Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

The Spa at Estancia La Jolla - Review

The Little Spa That Could

by Kim Fay

Relaxation lounge and cozy fireplace at The Spa at Estancia La Jolla in La Jolla, California
Relaxation lounge and cozy fireplace
on the terrace

The trend in spas these days seems to be the bigger and more elaborate the better. But there’s something to be said for simplicity, informality and—especially given the intimate nature of spa going—an atmosphere where you feel at home.

Like the property it inhabits — the Estancia La Jolla Hotel — The Spa at Estancia La Jolla is a low-key, welcoming place. It is situated beyond the swimming pool at the far end of the grounds, and although UCSD and a residential community lie just beyond, it manages to maintain a feeling of seclusion. Many of the treatment rooms open onto small garden patios where light breezes rustle through bamboo, and a combination of walls and foliage separates them from the rest of the world—if you’re in doubt, just ask members of the spa staff, who have armed themselves with binoculars and gone as far as entering neighboring buildings (with permission, of course) to see if spying is possible. It isn’t.

An outdoor treatment area at The Spa at Estancia La Jolla in La Jolla, California  
Outdoor treatment area

The spa is just a short walk from the Pacific, but it doesn’t focus on the ocean/seaweed-based treatments that are popular these days. The hotel capitalizes on the area’s rancho history, and the spa follows suit with an organic, earthy approach to wellness. When selecting products, Spa Director Marissa Edwards did her research; she chose products that reflect the garden atmosphere and then hit up the entire hotel staff for their opinions. This is the kind of symbiosis that is relied upon throughout the hotel, and the result is a signature product list so natural that you can—as Marissa assured us—eat it. Although we didn’t sample any of the products, we did do some serious sniffing. The pumpkin-orange masque will make your stomach growl.

A steam room at The Spa at Estancia La Jolla in La Jolla, California
Vichy shower at The Spa at Estancia La Jolla in La Jolla, California
Steam room
Vichy shower

Of the two product lines used, botanical-based Astara incorporates organically grown, raw, enzyme-rich foods with an emphasis on antioxidants. The second product, Eminence, uses organically grown herbs, fruits and vegetables (active ingredients are as varied as Hungarian paprika and wild plum), handpicked and hand-mixed with water from the subterranean thermal Lake Hajduszoboszlo in Hungary. An interesting aspect of the Eminence line is that you can actually see and feel the fresh fruit pulp and seeds in the potions.

Despite its small size, the spa has everything you’d find in a bigger space... steam showers, separate men’s and women’s dressing rooms and Jacuzzis and a coed relaxation room, stocked with "elixr" tonics—Mind Over Muddle is particularly good. The relaxation room leads to a series of treatments rooms for massages, body scrubs, wraps and masques. The spa also offers manicures and pedicures, and is becoming popular with locals for events such as bridal showers, wedding showers and couples’ escapes.

Among the many "garden treatments" is the Garden Vegetable Wrap, which uses Eminence’s Stone Crop Masque. This masque contains the whole leaves of the Stone Crop Plant, a succulent with healing qualities for damaged skin. Once the leaves are washed away with hot towels—a remarkably relaxing procedure in and of itself—the skin feels wonderfully soft. We took this treatment in the late afternoon, and we followed it with a cup of chamomile tea by the fireplace outside on the spa’s private patio: sublime, but something we only recommend if you plan on heading straight for bed afterward.

Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
9700 N. Torrey Pines Rd.
La Jolla, CA 92037
858-550-1000, 877-437-8262
Visit The Spa at Estancia La Jolla official website


Take movie night to a steamy new level with GAYOT's favorite sexy flicks, featuring hot blockbusters like 50 Shades of Grey.

A stylish synthesis of power and performance, GAYOT's favorite muscle cars boast big, athletic engines and aggressive design cues.