Stayed at The Avalon Hotel on March 21st and 22nd, taking advantage of a mid-week winter special that included transportation on Catalina Express. We hadn't been to Catalina for more than 25 years so we had no experience with Catalina Express. We left from Long Beach and were delighted with the quality, speed and ride offered by the jet drive catamaran designed by Incat in Australia. We upgraded to "Commodore" class for $10.00 each which meant that we boarded first, enjoyed upper deck seating, and got a free drink. The seats are similar to a European high speed train and drinks are provided by a Catalina Express staff member, served at your seat. The ride was very smooth and we saw a large pod of dolphin just off Catalina--they even surfed in the ship's wake.
We walked the short distance from the dock to the hotel, since we had rolling suitcases. We noted that Avalon had not really changed all that much since we last visited, even though a cruise ship was anchored off shore when we arrived. We were greeted by the pleasant staff at the hotel and were shown our accomodations, a garden view room on the second floor. While we did not have a balcony, we did have a sliding glass door and rail that allowed us to view the harbor as well as the garden below. As we read in previous reviews, the quality of everything at the Avalon is absolutely first rate. The wood furniture, fixtures, flat screen TV, bed, etc were the best available and made the stay very comfortable.
We rented a golf cart from the operator closest to the Catalina Express dock that offered an early bird special of 3 hours for the price of 2 (before 1:00 p.m.). You can break the time into segments, if you want to have lunch in between your touring. With the cart, we visited the Wrigley Botanical Gardens, the Casino, and drove on the road overlooking the harbor. Avalon itself if filled with interesting little beach houses, so it fun just to cruise around the neighborhood.
Enjoyed Steve's Steakhouse for dinner as well as Armstrong's Seafood at the beach. Steve's had one of the best iceberg lettuce wedges with blue cheese that we have been fortunate enough to enjoy. Armstrong's has a great deck over the water and their grilled seafood is excellent.
While we don't scuba dive anymore, we did enjoy watching divers entering the water at the Avalon Underwater Park next to the casino. The park restricts boat traffic so divers don't have to worry about being run over. There is a tank filling station right at the site, so divers don't have to walk all the way back to the pier for more scuba air. On our next trip, we plan to rent kayaks at the Descanco Beach Club, located just past the casino. The coast line west of Avalon is beautiful and the water is clear.
The mornings were overcast, with the sun breaking through around 10:00 a.m. We enjoyed the wonderful breakfast served by the Avalon staff in the garden behind the hotel. Fresh fruit, pastries, cereal, coffee, juice, etc was provided, making the morning relaxing. Humming birds joined us for breakfast, often sitting on the branches of the bird of paradise plants surrounding the garden. A fire ring sits in the middle of the patio, so you can warm yourself up if the sea air seems too cool.
Catalina is so different from L.A. that you think you have landed on another planet. To have a wonderful boutique hotel like the Avalon available makes the trip that much more special. We were told that the owners are completing construction of a new hotel, one block away from the Avalon. The new hotel (the Avalon is only two years old) will have, I think, 16 rooms similar in quality to the Avalon.
The Avalon Hotel is an outstanding example of what attention to detail can mean to a traveler. The entire experience was wonderful and the hotel can be recommended without reservation (even though you should have one if you are planning to go).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Avalon Hotel offers premier boutique hotel accommodations in the heart of beautiful Catalina Island. We invite you to discover an environment of understated elegance, where luxurious bedding, unique artwork and hand-crafted hardwoods and tile combine to create an enchanting experience. Located just off the Southern California coast, Catalina Island offers a resort experience that is very accessible. Most of our Catalina Island hotel rooms have breath-taking ocean views of Avalon harbor and its scenic surroundings. The breathtaking views from our Rooftop Getaway are sure to be a highlight of your stay at The Avalon Hotel. With a 360-degree vista of Avalon and its charming harbor, the Rooftop offers the ideal spot to sightsee and relax. From classic Craftsman styling and modern conveniences, deluxe bedding and upscale bath amenities, to an all-around relaxed atmosphere, The Avalon Hotel offers a unique hotel experience to every one of our welcomed guests. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- The Hotel Avalon
- The Avalon Hotel Catalina Island, CA