What: One of the loveliest hotels in Los Angeles County isn’t in the City of Angels; it’s 22 miles off the coast of California, high atop a hill on Catalina Island that overlooks Avalon Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Inn on Mount Ada was once the private home of William Wrigley, Jr., founder of the famous Wrigley chewing gum company and owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. After the Wrigley family lived there, it was used as a tourist attraction and later a conference center. The current innkeepers opened it as a hotel in 1985, and through careful restoration, much of the historic charm and sensible décor that Wrigley and his wife, Ada, put into their 1921 home is still reflected in the bed and breakfast’s six guest rooms and public areas.
Where: In 1919, Wrigley bought 99 percent of Catalina Island sight unseen — needless to say, he was surprised to find that his private island had tree-studded mountains rather than tropical beaches. Undeterred, Wrigley spent the next several years developing the city of Avalon, starting with his own home 350 feet above the bay. Today, Avalon exudes the casual glamour of a Mediterranean seaside village, with scores of shops and restaurants lining the small cluster of avenues that sit just before the deep blue waters of Avalon Bay. After you’ve spent a suitable amount of time admiring the view from the inn’s patio, hop in a golf cart (guests are given a cart to use during their stay since cars are restricted on the island) and carefully make your way down Wrigley Road to enjoy a sophisticated dinner at Avalon Grille, gourmet candy from Lloyd’s of Avalon or souvenir shopping at Two’s Company of Avalon and The Steamer Trunk.
When: The Inn on Mount Ada closes each January for maintenance and upkeep, so you’ll have to change plans if you were planning on booking a visit then. Advance reservations are highly recommended, as last-minute availability is a rarity for this small lodge, especially for its most popular rooms: The Grand Suite, which includes an expansive private patio and living room, and The Windsor Room, a cozy corner space that offers equally stunning vistas of both Avalon Bay and the Pacific Ocean (in fact, this was the preferred guest room for dignified guests of the Wrigley family, including presidents Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding). Summer is always a popular time to travel to Southern California, and Catalina Island is no exception — skip the crowds and book your visit for September or October to enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere throughout the island. As an added perk, two of the island’s biggest cultural events take place around this time: the Catalina Film Festival (September 18-22) and the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival (October 3-6, 10-13, 17-20).
Why: It’s not every day that hotel check-in involves a tour of the kitchen, an impromptu golf cart driving lesson and an open invitation to enjoy all the beer, wine and snacks that you desire — but those are just a few of the unique qualities that make The Inn on Mount Ada such a special place. The amenities here are old-fashioned in the best way. Help yourself to the freezer to make an ice cream sundae. In the morning, come downstairs and enjoy a beautiful home-cooked breakfast in the dining room (on a recent visit, we feasted on banana-pecan French toast, sausage links and a fruit, yogurt and granola parfait), and at lunchtime, snag a patio table as you peruse a menu of sandwiches, salads, Mexican entrées and juicy burgers. The innkeepers’ gracious hospitality makes The Inn on Mount Ada feel like your own private home.
Photos Courtesy of Inn On Mount Ada