“Sleek and chic oceanfront hotel with groovy bar and restaurant, perfect for hipster surfers and romantics alike, 20 minutes north of downtown San Diego”
Tower23 takes inspiration from the elements and the ocean. Contemporary and minimalist, decor is impeccably white with crisp lines, marine accented fabrics, teak headboards, desks and shelves, lots of space and a playful disposition. Picture windows and glass walls in the bathrooms allow light to flood in. Gadget-wise, you get a flatscreen TV, and an X-box with CD and DVD capability. There is a DVD library of titles to borrow but most guests prefer to download high-def films via the TV. Each room also has electronic door keys and do not disturb indicators, and a well-stocked minibar (personalised on request).
Bathrooms have step-in rain showers, piles of fluffy towels, Boca Terry bathrobes, a hairdryer and H2O toiletries.
Spirit Pads face onto the Tower Deck with its Zen garden and water feature. Sky Pads are slightly larger with a private balcony or cabana patio and have partial ocean views. Serentiy Pads (which we’re yet to see) and Surf Pads each have a full ocean view and a balcony (the difference being the angle of the view!).
Sanctuary Suites have a sitting area with a sofabed and wet bar, as well as a private balcony overlooking the Tower Deck and garden, with Pacific views. Sweet Suites have the bedroom and living spaces in 2 rooms, each with a balcony. Suites all have a whirlpool Jacuzzi tub in their bedroom in addition to rainfall showers in the bathrooms. These can also connect to a Surf Pad to create a 2-bedroom suite for larger groups or families.
JRDN surf:sky:spirit restaurant makes the most of the oceanfront setting. Its 10,000 sq.ft. linear glass-fronted space is perfectly positioned for surf-and-sunset gazing, and the umbrella-clad patio that runs its entire length allows alfresco drinking and dining all year round.
Inside, the first section houses the buzzy Bar (which serves a daily special Martini and other excellent cocktails as well as the full gamut of beers, wines and spirits) and the Lounge (often heaving at weekends), with the raw food bar along the back wall.
The next area holds the sophisticated steak and seafood JRDN Restaurant whose wave wall continuously changes colour, theatrically setting the scene for a wonderful meal. For such a trendy spot, (menu options are entitled 'way cool', 'getting warm', 'burning up' and 'pure sizzle'), we were impressed with the excellent service, high quality of the food, the wine and the presentation.
We chose the delicately flavoured butternut squash soup and dungeness crab cakes to start, followed by a duo of duck breast and confit on a sweet potato and chard hash, and the pan-seared scallops on crab risotto with artichokes. And were well pleased with all our choices.
For a bespoke dining experience, choose a cut of meat of fish from the 'burning up' menu (Executive Chef David Warner only serves locally produced, hormone-free and humanely reared Meyer Ranch beef, organic produce and sustainable seafood), a rub (eg blackened, tri peppercorn, truffle butter), a sauce (such as bearnaise, salsa verde, beurre blanc) and 2 sides (perhaps haricots verts, fingerling potatoes glazed with blue cheese, mascarpone polenta or grilled asparagus).
We were full to the brim after two courses so opted to retire to our Pad and order an artisanal cheese plate from the room service menu, and enjoyed a nightcap watching the scene on the Boardwalk and listening to the sound of the surf.
Breakfast is a la carte, and during the week is served in-room only with brunch in JRDN at weekends. From the 'mornin' sunshine' selection we went for yoghurt and fruit followed by eggs benedict and the stuffed apple and cinnamon French toast, washed down with coffee and freshly squeezed juice.
At the far end of the restaurant is the private Wine Room which features a 1,000 bottle wall, and its own section of patio complete with another fire pit.
Other eateries in the 'hood include Gringos for Mexican fare, Moondoggies, an upmarket sports grill, and Kono's, next door as an alternative to in-house breakfast.
Children are welcome and under 14s are free. It's a great location but bear in mind that the beach opposite is best for surfing, not swimming, and there's no pool.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Stump up for a Sweet Suite and Surf Pad combo if you have 2 or more children as they connect, forming a 2-bedroom family suite sleeping up to 8 (if they will share a double bed). Or if you don't mind sharing a room, all twins have 2 double beds which can each sleep 2 adults on request. All pads can fit an extra bed for a child or a baby cot; Sanctuary Suites can fit 1 child on the sofabed, while Sweet Suites can fit 2, both can fit an additional baby cot.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Food is available all day through the room service menu; there are cafes nearby including Kono's, which is popular with families. None of the rooms have any self-catering options and if you're weaning or have a small baby, this might not suit you.
The bar can be loud at night - ask for a room away from it.