By J.C. Thomas
The seaside village of Del Mar, just north of San Diego, is surely one of the loveliest spots in all Southern California. More than 2 miles of sandy beaches bound Del Mar, encompassing coastal parks, playgrounds, top-notch surf spots and a dog-friendly beach. The bluffs abutting those beaches are high and craggy, scattered on top with chaparral and the occasional gnarled Torrey pine, notable as the rarest pine tree in the United States.
The tony urban enclave of Del Mar only enhances this remarkable natural landscape, welcoming visitors from near and far to spend leisurely days amid its beauty. Shopping at Del Mar Plaza, playing golf on championship courses, whale watching, kayaking, surfing and events at the iconic Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds are among the local attractions. The countless tourist destinations of San Diego are within easy reach too, making Del Mar a wonderfully serene hub for a vacation in the city.
L’Auberge Del Mar
Standing out among Del Mar’s impressive accommodation options is L’Auberge Del Mar, a family-friendly and pet-friendly luxury hotel set on a 5-acre stretch of coastline. The hotel has earned the AAA Four Diamond award every year since 2004, and in 2018 the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards named it the No. 4 hotel in Southern California. Such accolades highlight L’Auberge Del Mar’s glorious setting, which has borne a series of fine hotels dating back to 1910. The current property had its grand opening in 1989, with a $25 million renovation in 2008 adding the spa, restaurants and outdoor terrace as well as updating the décor. A more recent overhaul brought back the renowned designer Barclay Butera, who again updated the hotel with his signature coastal chic aesthetic.
Our arrival for a recent one-night stay hosted by L’Auberge Del Mar for my family of four (two adults and two small children) coincided with a fabulous and rather large wedding taking place at the resort. Impeccably dressed guests mingled pre-ceremony in the lobby, a few seeming nervous while most were understandably joyful. Welcome glasses of champagne for us and cupcakes for the kids put our pleasure at checking in to such a stunning hotel in line with the wedding party ambiance.
The airy lobby, accented with topiary and beach tones, is fully open to the terrace of Coastline restaurant. Beyond that is the swimming pool lined by cabanas and loungers, then the shift of turquoise gradients where the Pacific meets the sky. It’s a spectacular spot for a wedding; equally so for any weekend getaway.
L’Auberge Del Mar offers 121 guest rooms including seven suites. They range from 300 to 1,222 square feet, all with a balcony or patio and views of the coast, gardens or village. Some rooms and suites have a fireplace, and all are luxurious furnished with a 42-inch LCD-screen television, iHome stereo system, plush bathrobes and slippers, and a Keurig coffee maker. Our coastal guest room with two double beds (you can also select one king bed) offered an ocean view from the private, furnished balcony. Sitting in one of the comfy balcony seats, taking in the view and breezes is a treat, whether it’s with a hot cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine while awaiting sunset.
The whole guest room, from the squishy beds to the marble-topped refreshment center, was delightful. The décor balances beachy and refined, with calming tones of sand and sea, impressionist art and accents including organic coral ornaments and a fluffy stuffed starfish. The most memorable feature of all, though, was the bathroom. Huge and gleaming in floor-to-ceiling marble and glass, illuminated by high-tech lighting embedded in the mirror like a frame, the bathroom was a stunner. So was the dreamy shower with a dinner plate-sized shower head and built-in marble bench.
L’Auberge Del Mar presents several dining options: the all-day restaurant Coastline, the poolside Bleu Bar, and the Living Room, which offers breakfast in the mornings and live music with a full bar menu in the evenings. In-room dining is available too.
We enjoyed dinner at Coastline, grabbing a table on its outdoor terrace with ocean views not long before sunset. The single-page menu focuses on sustainable seafood in creative preparations, rounding out the offerings with classic American comfort food. Main courses, among them a cioppino, steak frites and roasted Mary’s chicken with cauliflower, Castelvetrano olives and hazelnuts, share equal space with starters, chilled seafood items and salads. You can add rock crab, grilled shrimp, salmon or grilled chicken to any salad for a substantial, summery meal. Coastline offers a children’s menu as well.
We shared the crispy calamari starter with yuzu-wasabi aioli and lemon for a seafood fix. Calamari is a straightforward dish – although the complex aioli is a gourmet touch – but one that takes some precision to perfect. Coastline capably achieves perfectly tender, crisp calamari, and demonstrates equal expertise with the other classic dishes we choose. The BLTA, a towering sandwich on country sourdough spread with herb aioli, with generous layers of sugar cane-cured bacon, heirloom tomato, avocado and bibb lettuce, proved an excellent choice. I picked fries on the side (other choices are mixed greens or seasonal fruit), because the sandwich is practically a salad, right? My husband went with the grilled Angus burger on a brioche bun, topped with cheddar, avocado, pickles, onion, lettuce and tomato, plus an optional add-on of the same thick-cut bacon that starred on my BLTA. By appearances and his trustworthy report, it’s a superb burger.
L’Auberge Del Mar offers the following amenities:
- Spa L’Auberge, a full-service spa offering massages, body and beauty treatments. The spa features 10 treatments rooms, a couples’ suite and outdoor relaxation areas, all with an inviting beach house vibe.
- Fitness center
- Outdoor pool and whirlpool spa
- Complimentary cruiser bikes
- Surf lessons and equipment rentals through a local surf school.
- Two lighted championship tennis courts. Lessons with a pro are available.
- All dogs are welcome (a fee applies) and receive a special doggie bag with treats and bowls.
L’Auberge Del Mar
1540 Camino Del Mar
Del Mar, California 92014
Disclaimer: California News Press and its contributors received goods, services and/or other professional courtesies to facilitate this review. All opinions are those of the author.