I’ve stayed in lots of beach-front hotels, some five-stars and some motel-like. But until a recent stop at the historic Pierpont Inn in Ventura, I had never encountered anything on the waterfront with such a mixture of luxury and rustic charm.
Opened in 1910, the Pierpont Inn was designed by legendary architect Sumner P. Hunt, who also designed The Southwest Museum, the Los Angeles County Club, The Raymond Hotel in Pasadena, and the Lummis Adobe home in East Los Angeles.
Hunt was hired by Josephine Pierpont to create a Craftsman bungalow style inn to welcome drivers of the recently invented automobile, traveling up and down the coast in their new-fangled horseless carriages.
Today the Pierpont is the oldest operating hotel in Ventura County and is Ventura County Landmark No. 80. Through the years the property has added two 1925 English Tudor Revival cottages, a 1935 Spanish Revival Banquet Center and a 1950’s modern retreat.
My getaway to the 77-room Pierpont began on a recent Saturday afternoon, when I checked into the majestic Austen Suite. Overlooking the 101 Freeway and the Pacific Ocean, with sweeping views of the water, the suite is highlighted by the aforementioned rustic charm.
The living room features old-fashioned leather and wood furniture, a fireplace and an office area. The bedroom has a California king-size bed, 23-inch television, and a large Jacuzzi tub. Both bed and Jacuzzi offer also great ocean views. In fact, while taking a bubble bath I was able to watch surfers ride the waves and bikers pedal along the coast.
Besides great rooms, the hotel boasts a state-of-the-art racquet club and day spa services. The club features 12 championship tennis courts, racquet ball and squash courts, indoor and outdoor pool, spa and sauna, fitness and weight equipment, and yoga and pilates classes. The spa has a variety of massage and body treatments, custom skin-care and hair salon.
But of course the hotel’s biggest draw is probably its proximity to the ocean. The beach is a couple minute-walk down the driveway and under the freeway. When not gazing at the water from my room, I spent much of the weekend on the sand, enjoying Ventura’s historic pier and never-crowded beaches.
And when it came time for dinner, I discovered another piece of Ventura history: The Sidecar Restaurant (www.thesidecarrestaurant.com). This unique dining experience is found inside a 1910 Pullman railway car, which was originally a “pie car” in the circus.
After arriving in Ventura in 1933, the box car went through various restaurant incarnations before becoming an historical landmark. Today the Sidecar serves an eclectic seasonal menu.
For dinner, a friend and I enjoyed Spanish-styled, vegetarian bouillabaisse and clams in garlic and white wine butter sauce appetizers. We followed this with lemon rosemary chicken breast, with braised onions, peas, Yukon potatoes; and braised veal cheeks.
The Pierpont Inn is located at 550 Sanjon Road, Ventura. For more info, current specials and reservations, call (800) 285-4667 or visit: www.pierpontinn.com. For more info on Ventura, visit www.ventura-usa.com.