Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Review 912: Owner, Casasol (#999)
3+ bedroom/4+ bath villa in La Jolla, California
June 2002, 5 nights
The location of this lovely home, Casasol, is outstanding for anyone wanting to see the La Jolla/San Diego/Southern California area. We could not have asked for better! Casasol is set in La Jolla, California, less than 1/2 mile south of La Jolla Village. It is a very short walk through lovely neighborhoods to the beach. The house is set on a corner, and while it doesn't front on La Jolla Blvd., the walled yard does.
LA JOLLA VILLAGE - need I say more? The Scripps Oceanography Museum (a must-see), San Diego, Coronado, Laguna, Torrey Pines, etc. I could go on forever. One thing that I sort of regret was that in the short time we were there, we didn't take just one day to laze around the pool and thoroughly enjoy the house itself and all its many amenities.
When we first drove up, I was shocked at how big the house looked. Everything seems so much smaller in a photograph! Then, I thought about how the owners were trusting us with a real treasure and certainly a home that few could ever afford to live in!
Yes, Casasol is historical. The home was designed by the same architect who did the Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. It is what I call "early California" architecture, and some call it Mediterranean. The exterior is stucco, and the room is Spanish tile. I believe the home dates back to the 1920's, and the current owners have lovingly modernized some amenities (the kitchen), while leaving some things charmingly original (the art nouveau bathroom tiles). The floors are gorgeous hardwood, and the furnishings and accoutrements are top-notch. The owner has not "cheapened" the house with K-Mart dishes and appointments for the guests - everything is first class right down to the dishes, silverware and cookware.
You enter the house from the street through a unique wooden door with stained glass inserts. The owner explained that the inserts were all of explorers - Christopher Columbus, etc.
This house has been on La Jolla Garden Club tours, so need I say more? It has a lovely HUGE heated swimming pool. Around the pool is patio with fountains and gardens where they grow roses. The area is very large - about 1/4 acre I would think, and it is walled with a stucco six-foot wall. There is a large wooden swing in one corner of the yard that our kids enjoyed. There are a couple of covered patio areas near the pool where we enjoyed dining al fresco, and my husband and I ate breakfast there in the mornings. All along one edge of the walled area are tall trees that the owner explained to me were ficus trees - like the kind you grow in pots in your home!
Furnishings were all top notch throughout the house, and much of the furniture was antique. Art work in the home is lovely, as the owner works as a museum curator.
The living room had a couple of couches, several chairs and lovely decorative touches. The living room was just off of the open entry-way, and it had sliding glass doors out onto a covered patio by the pool. It was a very soothing room, and it remained cool all day long. There is a fireplace, but we did not use it. Also in the room are several bookshelves with good reading material.
The dining room, a huge wood-panelled room, has a table that could seat eight or more. I believe I remember that this furniture was original to the home. There were all sorts of table linens, so we had fun each night setting a pretty table.
The downstairs den had a nice comfortable wicker couch and chairs as well as a game table. This room had a large television and VCR, so it's where our teenaged son hung out a lot. I believe that this room could serve as a fourth bedroom, and there is a full bathroom off this room that opened to the pool.
Off the kitchen, there is a nice breakfast area with a table and six chairs. This area also had fun table linens that the girls loved playing with at table-setting time.
Upstairs, there were three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The master bedroom is set overlooking the pool, and it was lovely. It is entered through a short hallway with closets to one side and entrance to the master bath on the other side. I admire how the owner has retained the original tile and fixtures in the bathrooms, resisting the urge to modernize and "out with the old" some areas. The master bedroom was very large and very comfortable. The bed, a queen, was made up with lovely linens, and we had no trouble adjusting to a "bed-away-from-home," so it was (as Goldilocks said) "just right." Everything was scrupulously clean, something that I have not always found to be the case in home rentals.
The third bedroom had a queen (or was it a double?) bed. It faced west, and it had a lot of windows. It was a large room with a lot of boy-like things. I think I remember that the bedding in here was denim. The bathroom for this bedroom was beautiful blue tile. Also in this room was a high-speed internet connection.
The middle bedroom had two twin beds, and imagine my surprise when I walked in and saw the same Sheridan Boticelli bed coverings as we have in our master bedroom here at home. The furniture in this room was probably also original to the home --- it was incredible old maple that is probably something like Heywood-Wakefield, or something equally fine. Not being a furniture expert, I don't know what it was, but I was able to recognize it as fine, fine, fine. This is the bedroom where our two teenaged girls slept - our daughter and a friend she brought along. Their bathroom was also lovely - old white tiles.
Omigod - the kitchen in this house is to die for! It has fine appliances - all topnotch brands. There is a central granite island, and I think I remember that the other counters were Corian, but they might have been granite as well. The kitchen sink has a window over it, and it looks out onto the street at the front of the house. We often opened this window as we were cooking (we love to cook in homes we rent). There are stools at the island where the kids often sat and ate breakfast.
Off the kitchen is a laundry room with washer and dryer. Also off the kitchen is another bathroom which probably at one point in time was a maids bath.
All of the dishes, glassware, pans, etc. were top-of-the-line. I remember thinking that I would have a hard time letting renters use my good dishes, but I think it's a credit to the owners that they trusted us that much! We felt very very comfortable in their lovely home, and we appreciate them sharing it with us.
Problems or Bonuses
The big surprise to me was how NICE this house was. We were able to rent it for less than a one-week period and pay a per diem rate, another plus. The house is something that most people can only dream about living in, since homes in La Jolla are so expensive, and there just are not that many of this caliber anywhere around.
There is a two-car garage with garage door-opener.
There is a gas grill barbecue.
The owner is available and lives nearby in case of problems.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We rented this home directly from the owners through the VRBO website. I cannot quote the price we paid, because frankly I don't remember and prices may have changed in two years. We were able to rent for five nights versus the customary seven. The owner was very accommodating about deposits, etc.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Things to do in this area
San Diego is a tourist's dream. We ran out of time before we ran out of things to do. We went to the Zoo (of course). We went to the nearby Scripps Aquarium. We went to Coronado. We went to lots of shopping centers --- remember, two teenaged girls who are inveterate shoppers? We went to La Jolla Village many times to shop and to eat.
We went to Laguna and took three reluctant kids to the Pageant of the Masters, a must-do in the summer months. They all admit that it was the highlight of the activities. The Pageant is something that has been going on every summer in Laguna for many many years. (I remember going when I was a kid, and I am 50, so that's a LONG time.) Art works are depicted by real-life models on an open-air amphitheater stage. It is hard to get tickets, as they sell out fast, but I think that most people get lucky if they show up and buy them from people at the door. We sold an extra ticket we had bought that way.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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