La Jolla’s Pantai Inn: An Enchanting Coastal Retreat
by Susan Montgomery
We stepped into our lovely suite at the Pantai Inn in La Jolla, California, and were immediately transported to the shores of a charming beach resort in Bali. From the enchanting Balinese décor to the dramatic waves that awed us from our second floor balcony — it all came together to create the tropical ambiance of a land far away. We learned that the owners went to Bali and picked out the paintings, sculptures, and furniture that are featured throughout the Inn and its grounds. Staying at the Pantai Inn is truly an exotic, artistic experience.
Appropriately, the word “Pantai” describes a special kind of fluffy, white sand found on Indonesian beaches, similar to the sand on La Jolla beaches.
The Pantai Inn is ideally located, not only right on the coast, but also within easy walking distance of the wonderful restaurants and shopping that make La Jolla such a desirable destination for travelers. Of course just staying at the Inn is appealing too. There’s nothing like enjoying a glass of wine while taking in a spectacular sunset viewed right from the comfort of your own beautiful suite.
The Pantai Inn was originally the Shell Beach Motel, founded by successful shoemaker Max Heimburge who had immigrated from Germany and created the motel with a combination of La Jolla’s classic turn-of-the-century cottages and Art Deco buildings. The Pantai Inn is now operated by Heimburge’s grandchildren, Laurnie Durisoe and Larry Jackman, who have recently completed an extensive and impressive renovation and redesign.
The Inn is located a bit off-the-beaten track and its lush gardens with soothing waterfalls provide a luxurious but casual coastal getaway. Accommodations at the 30-room inn include ocean view studios, and one-bedroom cottages to three-bedroom suites.
Co-owner Laurnie Durisoe says, “After working so hard to restore the legacy that was our grandfather’s, it’s been a chance to create something that is now a real jewel for La Jolla. We’ve taken these historic buildings and lovingly renovated them so they really shine. The joy for us is to see that our guests feel the same way we do about the results. They are so amazed — it’s so satisfying and that’s our reward.”
And we were definitely amazed. We stayed in a spacious one-bedroom suite that included a stunning, custom stone bathroom; a sumptuous bedroom with a king-sized bed featuring exquisite Italian linens; a large living room with a Murphy bed that folded out of the wall, a fireplace, and a huge flat-screened TV; and a balcony with comfortable furniture facing the ocean. All the amenities you could desire were provided, including air conditioning, coffee makers, high speed internet access, daily newspapers, complimentary transportation within the village of La Jolla, snacks and beer in the refrigerator, and wine to purchase. A delectable fruit and dessert tray awaited us and can be purchased in advance of your stay.
An added benefit is a delicious, complimentary full breakfast served every morning that can be enjoyed in the Inn’s lovely courtyard. Each day’s breakfast is specially created by talented Chef Scott Ingenito who brings extensive experience in restaurants and catering to the Pantai Inn. We thoroughly enjoyed the robust coffee, fresh juices and fruit, cereals, yogurts, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, breakfast enchiladas, and banana chocolate chip muffins served during our visit. There were also freshly made cookies served throughout the day in the Inn’s lobby.
We found the staff to be especially friendly and helpful. We were given a nice tour of the property when we arrived and then guided directly to our room. Later staff members came by with bottled water and chocolate.
Although we only live an hour away, we are so glad we discovered this enticing, romantic retreat. I can see coming back again and again when we are craving an escape to the coast.
Reservations at the Pantai Inn, can be made by calling 858-224-7600 (local) or 855-287-2682 (toll free). Prices range from $295 to $775 and specials are sometimes available.
Why La Jolla?
Now that you know where to stay in La Jolla, why go there? For readers who do not live in Southern California, the seaside village of La Jolla, which is only 14 miles north of the San Diego International Airport, is a wonderful travelers’ destination whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or a family adventure. Walking along the La Jolla Cove is an iconic coastal experience with its tidepools, children’s pool, and seal rock (yes, with lots of seals and sea lions). All kinds of water adventures are available, including kayaking, canoeing and, of course, surfing. Besides fabulous cuisine, boutiques, and galleries, the village also offers visitors easy access to the Scripps Institution of Oceanograpy, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Torrey Pines Golf Course, SeaWorld of San Diego, San Diego Zoo and much more.
Photos with this article taken by Todd Montgomery.