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Reviewed 5 January 2014

How does one solve the dilemma of an absolutely beautiful facility with all the right amenities (well-appointed rooms, beautiful gardens with views from the rooms, small but well-stocked exercise facility, wonderful pool, nice-looking restaurants with places to sit inside-and-out), but brought down by staff that hasn't taken the most basic customer service course offered by a three-star motel and parts of the facility that just don't work (e.g., no hot water one morning, broken heater for the outdoor seating portion of the restaurant, etc.)?

That is why I gave the facility only 3 stars -- I probably would give it 3+ stars, but there is no way for me to do that. Clearly, this Hotel & Spa bills itself as a 4-to-5 star resort, and clearly it was designed as such. But with this aspiration comes that necessary tasks of meticulous staff training (and periodic re-training) as well as a rigorous preventive maintenance program for the facility with an onsite engineer for when things don't work properly. These are what were missing from the Estancia resort.

Examples of the service issues:

a) The most incredibly slow and inattentive service imaginable every time we ate at one of the restaurants (3 times at 2 of the restaurants). We even had to wait ten minutes twice for a server to appear to bring us a coffee refill. At a restaurant with fairly high prices, one expects a lot better.

b) When complaining on the phone that there was no hot water, the response was they knew about the problem, and run water for 5 minutes and that should make it better. We ran the water for 10 minutes without results. When we later complained upon checkout that we weren't able to shower that morning, the response was that he's sure it will be better next time we come there, which he hoped would be soon. Sad to say, these are not the kinds of answers I would expect at a high-quality resort.

c) We discovered that some restaurant credits that were not credited properly on our bill, the clerk said that we were mistaken. I am sure that we were not, and said that I would be contacting the manager. The clerk managed to find a way to make a mistake an even worse experience (note: as you'll see in the next paragraph, through a subsequent call to a manager, he immediately saw the mistake and credited our account).

A few days after our visit, I contacted the resort and requested a manager. I spoke with Aaron, who is the first person I encountered there that spoke in the way a would expect someone at a 4 or 5-star resort to speak with a guest. He (without prompting) apologized profusely, said that the staff should not have said what they did, would make sure that staff are sensitized more effectively, and offered me a credit. It's just too bad that I had to speak with the manager to make all that happen.

Last, a caution as to the hidden fees at the resort. Valet parking is required -- so if one wants to take the car out a few times a day, expect to have some singles for tipping the valet, and to have to wait for your car (it's pretty fast if no one else is waiting, but there are busy times). Oh, and they charge $25 per day for parking (frankly, they should have a big sign that says no tipping, and make sure the valets are paid enough out of the $25 fee). The resort used to have self-parking, but there were problems with that too.

Besides the $25 daily parking fee, there is a $17 daily resort fee, which covers such amenities as the Internet, exercise facility, pool, self-service morning coffee at the restaurant, etc. -- items that many places include in their fees, expect when they want the fee to seem less than it is.

Because we used a Travelzoo coupon, we received a half-price room with a few other bonus (free parking being the primary one); so we paid only $149 plus the resort fee and state taxes. I felt that the price was very good for what we received, and if I were basing this review on on place with these rates, I would likely have awarded it 4 stars. On the other hand, if I were basing the review on a 5-star resort, I would have awarded it 2 stars.

Oh yes, if you will be in your room in the daytime, it may pay to upgrade to a deluxe room, which will give you a small deck (instead of a French balcony and guarantee a view of the gardens). You still can get those rooms without the upgrade if they are available, but you won't know until you get there. The cost is another $25 per day. As you can see, there are lots of ways to add to the base price, so beware!

And if you want a relatively quiet room, be sure to get one on the third (top) floor (otherwise, you likely will hear children running above you -- it is a very kid friendly resort). Note the one enters the facility on the third floor -- the lower two levels are beneath -- the first one opens up to the garden and pool, which are off to the sides and the back.

My best hope for this resort is that they fix their glitches and take advantage of the wonderful facility that they have and support it with appropriate service and maintenance. If they can do this, it could be a great place to stay when in La Jolla.

Room Tip: Top floor is a must. To guarantee a good view and the top floor, you may need to upgrade to a deluxe room, which is an additional $25 per day.
  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank qualityseeker-019
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 January 2014

My wife and I booked 3 nights. Stayed only two. Left to find a better place. No hot water for two days. Internet not working for two days. Room service average. Valet great service. Bellhop, great service. Restaurant was fantastic (not the one for breakfast). Front desk doesn't quit get how to provide exceptional service. They need more training. Front desk did acknowledged the problems on first day - gave a $40 credit. Second day was excuses, front desk said "no one else complained about the water" -- insinuating that perhaps I was lying? I was told the manager would call me back -- never received a call. I wish they would have handled our disappointing experience with professionalism, and with a goal to have me return. I want to return, but just can't justify the cost for the value received. A 3-star experience. You are paying for La Jolla - not a 4-star experience. There are many La Jolla and San Diego hotels around $200+.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank MavTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EstanciaHotelManager, Manager at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 8 January 2014

Thank you for your feedback and your compliments for our valet team. We have shared your comments with the Operations team who will follow up with their departments and revisit policies and procedures as needed. We apologize for your recent experience which is not indicative of our service standards. We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience so that we may learn and become better. I’m sorry no one returned your call, however our Director of Front Office Operations would appreciate a conversation to learn more about your experience, please feel free to call 858.550.1000 and ask for Aaron Anavim.

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Reviewed 2 January 2014

We just got back from a great stay at Estancia La Jolla. The property is lovely, the rooms well appointed and ok in size. Our biggest issue with the room was that the air conditioning/heating system did not seem to work very well so we were either boiling or freezing. The amenities were good, nice heated pool, jacuzzi, etc. I did not take advantage of the spa services or the food as the restaurants were not highly rated and seemed very overpriced and there are so many good restaurants in La Jolla. The biggest disadvantage for us was the forced valet parking. There were several times when we were just running in and out of the hotel and it would have been nice to just be able to park quickly.

Overall a solid four stars and I would definitely recommend

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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Thank jensamsmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EstanciaHotelManager, Manager at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 3 January 2014

Thank you for recommending our hotel to others and for taking the time to post a review. We are glad to hear you enjoyed the guest room amenities such as the pool and whirlpool. I apologize about the air-conditioning system, next time please do not hesitate to call the operator and have engineering pop in to set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature for you. We hope to welcome you back soon.

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Reviewed 2 January 2014

Stayed here during a quick get away from Los Angeles to go Paragliding at the Gliderport less than a half mile from the resort. The hotel grounds are beautiful and rooms are nicely decorated as well. We got a good deal on bookit.com for the room which was about $20 cheaper than advertised on other websites and about $50 cheaper than listed at the hotel website. The weather wasn't cooperating (upper 70s with no wind) for paragliding so we spent time by the heated pool and hot tub. You can order drinks pool side or walk to the bar and get drinks a little quicker. The king bed was comfy and the bathroom adequate for the price point of the room.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank bjconr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EstanciaHotelManager, Manager at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 3 January 2014

Thank you for your review and for choosing Estancia La Jolla for your recent trip to San Diego. I’m sorry to hear the weather was not cooperating for paragliding. We are happy that you enjoyed your time by the pool and were comfortable in your guest rooms. We hope to see you again soon, and I hope the weather proves better for paragliding on your next visit!

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Reviewed 31 December 2013

Wow, this was my second stay and I likely will not return, although in LaJolla several times a year. This stay was awful. The moment we checked in the bad experience began. The process for room assignment is ridiculous, difficult and lacks any feeling of a luxury resort. The "ala carting" to death begins as well as the pompous attitude of the staff. I was told in an aggressive manor I was getting 50% off by "only" paying $25 per night for an upgrade. Well in fact the published rate for the given room was the $25 per night i was paying and not published at what would have been $50. As if I should even be having this conversation with a smarmy 20 something while checking in after a long day of travel. I was so turned off by the attitude that I said I was considering shortening my 5 night stay to which another staff member, who informed me she worked there for 4years, replied, she would have to know within an hour. The published policy states a guest has until midnight the night of check in to decrease the length of their stay. On our last morning we looked forward to a hot jacuzzi but found cool to lukewarm water and that was at 8am, the jacuzzi opens at 7am, why was the water not hot by 7am? In addition there were no towels. The bottle of wine that is 'given" with certain room rates, even though there is a $17 a day resort fee, drinks like a bottle of Barefoot from the gas station. Skip it. We booked a holiday rate that included Christmas brunch but rather than guarantee a reservation for the guests the hotel puts in fine print, "reservation not guaranteed" banking on the guests either forgetting or not making a reservation. And, if that is not true it certainly appears so, I would use another approach. During my first stay I had a spa credit with my rate but was unable to work out a reservation between my schedule and the booked nature of the spa but was told this time that "oh well you just forfeit the credit". Offer the guest a bowl of fruit, a nicer room or anything but saying oh well, are you really in the hospitality business? We did not have a hot shower on day of check out, and no internet for 2 days, the same as other guests. The $25 upgrade fee was waived, as it should have been as the upgraded room overlooked sewage repair that smelled like rotten eggs. Frankly, the resort fee should have also been waived. The wine bar is not a wine bar in the true sense, it feels more like a common area of a hotel that has some wine choices and it closes at 10pm. When it was time to check out, my bill was incorrect so I went to the front desk to have it reconciled. I was met with more smarmy attitude by the same young man, whose name I will protect, who apparently doesn't understand or care that he is the hotel employee and we are the guests. It is not really a matter of price here, as the rates are reasonable. It is a matter of giving the customer an experience of being nickeled and dimed to death and not treated as if you are actually at a luxury resort. There is no sense that anyone is in charge other than the young folks behind the desk who are clearly in above their heads when it comes to providing service to a mostly well educated well heeled crowd. In addition, the parking policy has changed so that valet is the only option. I was told the reason is that it was felt the arrival experience was diminished for the customers by allowing them to park their own car. I can understand and appreciate that viewpoint but I will say that after the initial arrival I would like access to my car because I find it inconvenient every time I need something to have to have an attendant go retrieve the vehicle not to mention scrounging for dollars 3 - 4 times a day to tip the valets. Overall very disappointing, very obvious there is neglect from senior leadership as well as desperation to generate revenue. It is too bad ownership has a laissez faire attitude, takes customers for granted and doesn't put more effort in to this property, it has real potential. I much prefer writing positive reviews.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank dunelandvirgo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EstanciaHotelManager, Manager at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 2 January 2014

Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. I hope that you receive the Direct Message we just sent via TripAdvisor as we hope to have the opportunity to speak with you further about your recent stay. Your experience is certainly not indicative of our service standards. We apologize for the lack of hot water, please know that we have identified the hot water issue and our Engineering Team is working on a solution to prevent this from happening in the future.

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