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La Valencia Hotel

Size 10,” I disclose into the phone. On the other end is the personal butler assigned to me for a one-night stay at La Valencia Hotel. This whole manservant arrangement is prevalent here in La Jolla. I’m initially hesitant to commit to the concept. Then the discovery: I forgot something sartorially imperative for my scheduled romantic dinner in the hotel’s Sky Room. So here I am, calling my butler, requesting loaner dress shoes. Desperate times breed unbounded elitism.

Butler Adam Kerr arrives 10 minutes later. He’s got a brand-new pair of black Banana Republic shoes. “At first, I thought I was going to be walking around barefoot for two hours,” he says, when I demand to know how he procured fine footwear so quickly. “But I asked the front-desk guy for shoes. I figured, they’re behind a desk. They don’t need shoes. But he happened to have a pair he’d just bought.” They are exactly my size. And still in the box. A green Jackson goes to my new Jeeves.

Also just out of the box: 15 new ocean villas, bringing the number of rooms at the venerable La Valencia to 117. To get a butler, you need to be staying in a villa. These rooms range from 400 to 1,200 square feet. As luck has it, Villa 15 is available for me. It’s the biggest—and comes with a La Jolla Cove view, wraparound patio and a stocked pantry with separate entrance for Kerr and company.

Other niceties that almost require a butler in the vicinity: Indoor/outdoor fireplaces. Three TVs and a digital audio system. White fir–beamed raised ceilings. Steam shower with two overhead, oversize rain showerheads. Icing on the cake, as it were, complimentary Häagen-Dazs (and chocolate-frosted cones).

Rock group Pearl Jam recently rented four villas during a local appearance. The lead singer, Eddie Vedder, once worked night security at La Valencia, says Kerr. The story goes that he was fired—with no lingering hard feelings—for playing his guitar instead of patrolling the grounds.

Kerr divulges that he’s delivered many a bottle of champagne to Villa 12, home to an ocean-view Jacuzzi. And if your idea of a romantic weekend includes a steam shower with room for eight bodies, request Villa 14.

He’s full of good information, this butler. “I’m here to do whatever you want—no task is too menial,” says Kerr. “I’m all ears and no mouth if need be.” And he’ll disappear, if you desire. “When couples come for romantic getaways, a lot of times we don’t see too much of them. They’re in the room most of the time.”

Back to those rooms. Not previously mentioned about the villas: Italian marble floors. Crystal glassware. Complimentary use of CDs. It’s like a home away from home—and is literally that for one La Jolla woman who’s signed on for a three-month stay while her home is renovated.

Saving the most romantic room aspect for last, there’s the bed. It’s a king, with Egyptian cotton sheets and down duvet. “It’s crispy,” says my wife, which is her highest praise for bedware. If you’re not inclined to leave this nest for break-

fast or brunch—don’t. Grab the ostrich skin–covered directory of services and have Kerr deliver breakfast in bed. The butler will do it.

IF YOU GO: La Valencia is at 1132 Prospect Street in La Jolla. Ocean villas range from $550 to $3,500 per night. For reservations, call 858-454-0771.                

—Ron Donoho