Many times as we've headed for beachfront hotels, we've enjoyed stellar oceanfront views from the car. But at Tower23 Hotel, named for a former lifeguard tower, the drive from the freeway to the hotel winds its way through business districts populated by mini-malls, casual eateries, and chain stores. Although there's nothing glamorous about the neighborhood, the beauty of the hotel reveals itself once one gets inside, and again when guests see the sea.
The minimalist reception area is bright and clean, offering free beverages throughout the day, but no views. Entering the Tower Bar at JRDN restaurant allows visitors to take in the sights and sounds of the beach that is the main draw. The water is so close and inviting, you'll wish you'd have packed a surfboard.
The Graham Downes-designed three-story hotel is quite stylish due to its generous use of glass and geometric lines. The 44 sleek, neo-modern rooms are good-sized and offer amenities from well-stocked minibars, flat-screen televisions, Xbox entertainment centers and dual-line cordless phones to 24-hour room service and patios with stellar views of the Pacific. If the private patios are out of your price range, you can still enjoy the shared patio complete with fire pit. Our suite featured the hippest hotel bathtub we've ever seen, a whirlpool tub with "chromatherapy" lighting that filled from the ceiling. Wi-Fi is complimentary throughout the hotel for those who'd rather surf the ‘net than the waves. Spa services are available in guestrooms, but there is no spa on site.
The Pacific Beach neighborhood that seemed like a minus coming in is actually a plus. Guests without cars can easily walk to surrounding restaurants and shops and not be “stuck in the hotel” as in some remote beach properties. But JRDN, the hotel restaurant, is worth checking out, offering top steak and seafood along with the views. You'll see a mix of locals and tourists walking along the boardwalk that runs parallel to the beach. We also recommend a stroll on the nearby pier, which features a decidedly un-hip hotel with rooms perched above the water.
The extras available when guests book rooms say a lot about Tower23 Hotel. There are bike rentals and surf lessons for beach-lovers, Champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries for romantics, and — something we've never seen before — a "Naughty Turn Down Service" of adult toys for the hip and open-minded.
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