Shandelle Battersby checks into the Grande Colonial La Jolla Cove, San Diego.

Getting there:

I arrived via the I-5 from Huntington Beach north of San Diego by car, which took me an easy 90 minutes.

Check-in experience: The valet took my keys and whipped my Jucy Trailblazer quickly out of sight. Be aware that if you have a car — and you'll need one in this part of San Diego — valet parking is a necessity and it does not come cheap on our Kiwi dollar (at the Grande Colonial it's US$30 per day). One thing you don't pay at this hotel, however, are resort fees.


Room: An Ocean View Room with a fetching red and green colour scheme in the main building of the hotel. It had a comfortable king bed, a coffee maker, two complimentary bottles of water each day, a writing desk and a cool charging port thing by the bed for all devices

Price: Rooms start from US$239 ($347) per night. A bit of history: The elegant Grande Colonial is La Jolla's oldest original hotel, opening in 1913. What's so good about this place? It's a lovely retreat from the world in a beautiful part of Southern California.

Heritage hotels have such a charm about them and the Grande Colonial has definitely worked out how to accentuate its finest features.

And the bad? To get anywhere else is a car ride away — you can drive to the beach communities along the coastline but you'll need to get on the freeway for the rest.

What's in the neighbourhood? The Coastal Walk is worth tackling more than once — you will be treated to gorgeous views of the steep bluffs and local wildlife, including sea lions, seals and birds such as cormorants and pelicans, and some great people-watching.

Kayaking and snorkelling is popular, especially in and around the La Jolla Sea Cave where you can see garibaldi and harmless leopard sharks. If you're after shopping, food and bars, the Westfield UTC is a little over 10 minutes away by car — try to find the hidden bar inside curated bottle store Raised by Wolves. Further afield are multiple attractions, from Disneyland and Legoland to the north, to San Diego's many attractions (the zoo, Petco Park, Balboa Park, the Mexican border at Tijuana, the Gaslamp Quarter, the USS Midway) in the south. Toiletries: A nice range from Gilchrist & Soames. Food and drink: Some of the rooms have kitchens or kitchenettes but if you can't be bothered cooking, the award-winning fine dining farm-to-table Nine-Ten Restaurant, which runs the room service menu, is on site — sit outside and watch the sun set.

Bathroom: Long and narrow with a shower over the bath.

Noise: You may be able to see the ocean but you definitely can't hear it.
Perfect for: A relaxing pause by the sea and as a base for exploring the beautiful beaches of Southern California.