Pasadena Travels: A Sweet Secret Hidden in Plain Sight

La Jolla’s Orli is a subtle jewel on the coast
By EDDIE RIVERA, Editor, Weekendr Magazine
Published on Apr 6, 2023

For more than a dozen years now, the second weekend in February of each year has found me in San Diego, spending time with longtime friends at a Super Bowl party. The gathering is always memorable, but it’s exploring new lodgings in the San Diego area every year that’s become one of the highlights for me. 

This year, after two nights in a row in two Central California Coast hotels, I eagerly motored south more than 300 miles to the exquisite North San Diego County burg of La Jolla, for a weekend at the unique Orli La Jolla.

Making my slow way from the 5 south to the tip of the coast (not an easy task. Let’s leave it at that), I eventually pulled up right in front of the Orli. I took this to be a very good sign.

The white, cubist-style 1910-era landmark building sits discreetly just across the street from the postcard-perfect La Jolla Cove and Seal Rock. 

Scoping out the property, I searched for a front door or a front desk, but found only a side gate that led to a friendly, open patio, with a smartly dressed agent holding an iPad, sitting casually in the corner. 

Rising immediately, he said, “Mr. Rivera?

Yes, I said, and he tapped his iPad here and then there, and check-in was essentially completed.

He then led me into a lush library-like sitting room in the property’s front building, where coffee and fancy water and snacks and books and music were readily available, and then led me back out through the courtyard. 

“You’re in the penthouse,” he said, matter of factly. 

That would be the two-level Irving Gill penthouse, named for the one-time residential apartment building’s original designer and architect. 

He handed me a card with my name and door code on it. No keys here, the door code handles everything. Need anything? Text them. They’ll respond. 

The discreetly luxurious penthouse features a bedroom the size of some apartments I’ve known, with dark woods and tones, high ceilings, black stone countertops, and a window seat overlooking the courtyard. The first level bedroom also features an oversize circular chair that would comfortably fit two, a pair of cozy slippers, a Nespresso machine with a handful of coffees, a mini-bar, some protein bars and a Marshall bluetooth speaker and a large flat screen TV, along with chic designer furnishings and a pretty magnificent bed, designed to never let you leave.

Upstairs, an intimate cocktail lounge opened out to a private ocean view terrace. Inside, the lounge contained a dark velvet couch and a designer coffee table that held fresh flowers, baked treats, and other accouterments, courtesy of the management.  

The Orli LaJolla has that unique character of a modern and retro stylish boutique hotel with the comfy convenience of a homestay. 

Though the evening was chilly, I ventured out onto the terrace to gaze at a glorious sunset that was just getting ready to show itself off. Wanting to get a little closer to the sky, I went downstairs, crossed the courtyard, then crossed the street to the La Jolla art museum, perched on some of the most perfect cliffs in the world, to watch the waves perform their dramatic dance on the rocky shores. 

When night fell and I’d watched anything vaguely worth watching, I lowered the shades, climbed under the covers, and sank into a deep, dark silent sleep, my sign of a memorable hotel. I remember closing my eyes and then awakening. None of that dream stuff. I was in a luxurious cloud. 

When morning appeared, I brewed a cup of coffee, opened the almond croissant that had been left for me, and sat out on the terrace in a perfectly sunny and warm mid-winter La Jolla morning, watching the seagulls patrol the skies and hearing only the sound of the waves.

Suffice to say the refined Orli La Jolla is unlike any hotel you might visit. It’s a bit like staying in a friend’s guest house, but your friend has a really luxurious guest house. 

There’s no pool, there’s a courtyard. 

And you don’t stay there. While you’re there, you live there. Isn’t that how hotels should be? 

The Orli La Jolla is at 7753 Draper Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037.  (858) 727.2776.

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