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Coming Back: The Whaling Bar

The classic La Valencia Hotel is bringing back the storied bar where legends were made
Courtesy of Bay Bird Inc.
La Valencia Hotel Exterior San Diego

La Valencia Hotel

Courtesy of Bay Bird Inc.

When Dr. Seuss wasn’t dreaming up my childhood and foreshadowing all the places I’d go, he was a regular at the Whaling Bar at La Jolla’s epic La Valencia Hotel. The community grew attached to the nautical-themed cocktail bar, so news of its closure in 2013 (after six decades) hit like a bitter divorce. Now the Whaling Bar will return once again.

The Whaling Bar Vintage Interior

The Whaling Bar circa 1940

Courtesy of Bay Bird Inc.

The La Valencia Hotel (affectionately dubbed “The Pink Lady”) is a Spanish-style hotel that sits a block away from the coves on Prospect St. in the heart of La Jolla. It was built in 1926 with enough charm and glamour to outlast The Great Depression, a pandemic, and all the years in between. The original concept was as an apartment hotel, Los Apartmentos de Sevilla, but adopted its long-standing name in 1928.

La Valencia’s team will drive The Whaling Bar’s design. Although still brainstorming the final concept, the hotel promises some vintage touches, like the original 1940s-era Wing Howard paintings. “We are excited to return the paintings to their original home and in a place that’s already full of so much history,” says La Valencia GM Summer Shoemaker.

Whaling Bar, ad

Whaling Bar, ad

Courtesy of Bay Bird Inc.

The Bar’s day-to-day operations will be handled by operating partner SDCM (Kettner Exchange, Grass Skirt, Waverly), while the hotel will continue oversight of all other on-site food and beverage concepts.

“This is a really important project for us and the La Jolla community,” says Shoemaker. “To have those doors on the Prospect Street side of the property open again will mean a lot.”

The Whaling Bar is projecting a mid-fall reopen.

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By Jared Cross

Jared Cross is a writer who grew up near the US-Mexico border in San Diego. He credits this experience with refining his appetite for food and culture.

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