We really looked forward to getting to our Dana Point hotel, the Doubletree Suites by Hilton. We’d booked a sunset whale watching cruise, and after a short drive from La Jolla, we’d all day to explore the beach and other delights of Dana Point. It seemed odd to be breaking our latest PCH drive just at the exact place where the Pacific Coast Highway officially starts – but that’s right here, less than a mile from our Dana Point hotel, at the junction of I-5 and Highway 1.
All Photos (c) Donna Dailey
The Doubletree was really easy to find, and that was a bonus. You do need good directions, but if you print them out from the hotel’s website, you can’t go wrong. There’s plenty of room to pull in, and the valet guy made us feel really welcome. He told us how to walk to the harbor, where best to cross the road to get to Doheny State Beach (which is right in front of the hotel: see map below), and where we’d end up if we walked south along the beach – the answer being San Clemente, about five miles away.
The friendly welcome continued inside the hotel at the reception desk, which sadly isn’t always the case these days. Here they clearly made an effort to treat you as a guest and not a job of work to be got out of the way. The reception area was big and bright, with some stylish décor, and there was a nice, thoughtful touch – chilled water, flavored lightly with citrus fruit, was always available just inside the door.
Our room was 416, which was right on the corner at the front of the hotel. With a balcony on each side, we had two different ocean views, which was fabulous. The walls were pale brown, and the chairs and bedding a delicate green. It was simple and relaxing. We liked the concealed fridge and microwave, the desk, the Jacuzzi in the bathroom, and little extras like some chamomile tea, and Wolfgang Puck coffee.
We didn’t get chance to sample dinner at the hotel’s Tresca restaurant, as we wanted to eat down at the harbor after our sunset whale watching cruise. But we did look in on the lively Vivo Bar on the 4th floor, with its ocean views (that's the view from our balcony, above), and in the morning breakfast in Tresca was excellent. The service again was friendly, the coffee terrific, and we both liked the sound of the ranchos hueveros. It’s a dish we know and love, and this was a tasty one.
We’d love to have stayed at least another day in Dana Point. We really enjoyed walking on Doheny State Beach, and wandering round the harbor. The whale watching cruise was fantastic, too. And the hotel was impressive. To be honest, we normally choose more intimate inns with character, family-run guesthouses, and the occasional luxury splurge. But someone local recommended the Doubletree to us – and we were glad that they did. It left us wanting more – the ultimate test. So we drove out of the hotel and right onto the start of the Pacific Coast Highway.
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Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends some of the top wildlife spots along the California coast.
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The Pacific Coast Highway wildlife on and off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington is one of the highlights of any trip: go whale-watching, bird watching, see elephant seals and sea lions.
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To help you in choosing your Pacific Coast Highway hotel, guesthouse, inn, bed-and-breakfast, resort, motel or other accommodations, we've prepared our Pacific Coast Highway Hotels Guide. In it we do mini-reviews of accommodations along the Highway, from Seattle to San Diego, through Washington, Oregon, and California.
In all there are over 200 hotels listed, complete with 8 pages of color maps showing the towns where our recommended hotels can be found. There are both alphabetical and geographical indexes, helping you plan your journey.
We also include color photos of all the hotels that are our Personal Favorites. Here's the link to read more about our ebook guide to Pacific Coast Highway hotels.
The 2016 edition of our Hotels Guide is available with maps and color photos (if you have a color reader) in the US Kindle Store for only $4.99 and in the UK Kindle Store and other Kindle stores worldwide at prices based on the US price.
If you want a paperback edition of the 2016 guide with only black and white photos and black-and-white maps, it costs $6.99 at the US Amazon Book Store and £4.99 in the UK Amazon Store.