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www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at
the Hotel Metropole in Avalon on Catalina Island, CA.
There was a computer with Internet access, but it cost $5 per day (we paid for access). It seemed one had to ask for everything, Lori saw the computer on a trip to inspect the rooftop Jacuzzi, and we had to call to inquire how to access it. An agreement to pay the fee and a password were required. We would have thought that would have been explained at check-in. There were separate, darker towels to be used with the rooftop Jacuzzi. Again, those had to be requested and signed for. If they were not returned, a fee was charged to the guest. As far as we could tell, that was about it for amenities, although they did store our bags when we arrived too early to check in, and when we had to check out hours before our trip back to the mainland (it would seem most of the hotels on the island offer this service as well).
The hotel did not have a restaurant. Continental breakfast was included. The reviews we had read prior to our visit weren’t strong on Hotel Metropole’s continental breakfast, so we skipped it and went elsewhere. There were vending machines with drinks, but they were expensive ($2!). The one thing that was free was ice. There was a minibar in the room with the usual fare.
The hotel did not have a bar or lounge; we brought our own. Of course, there are plenty of bars to be had in Catalina, as well as several stores that sold beer, wine, and liquor.
We have to be honest – we were disappointed with the people we encountered at Hotel Metropole. When we first arrived, it was 11:30 a.m. and we knew it was too early to check in; we were merely hoping to store our bags until later. First of all, they couldn’t find our reservation, and as Lori started digging around for it, they found it. Then they reminded us our room was not guaranteed to be ready until 3 (which we knew). They did store our bags and gave us a claim check for them. The staff on duty at the desk seemed to be very young and inexperienced, and we were surprised by this. We had just come from spending several days at a very well-run inn and the service was quite a let-down from where we had been. There is one person who stood out, and that was Jose, who delivered our bags. Every time we saw him, he smiled and said a few nice words. Of course, Jose was quite a bit older than the crew at the desk. On the day we checked in, we were sitting in the tub when Lori thought she heard a banging sound. We shut off the tub and after ascertaining it wasn’t our door, we ignored it. When we got out of the tub, we heard the banging again and it kept getting louder. We finally determined it was the room beneath us, and upon further investigation, we saw they were renovating the room and making quite a racket. The noise finally stopped at 6 p.m.
The following morning at 8 a.m. the banging resumed, must to our chagrin (we had been asleep). We understand it is sometimes necessary to renovate while guests are in residence, but the hotel seemed fairly full and we thought banging around loudly at 8 a.m. was downright rude. Keith picked up the phone and called the front desk. They said they would put a stop to it. A few minutes later the banging ceased and we relaxed. Just as we started to drift off, the phone rang, and it was the front desk wanting to know if the banging had stopped. We realized at that point it was futile to even think about sleeping any longer.
The rooms at this hotel are expensive and the facilities are very nice, but we think that management may want to consider staffing the front desk with staff who are a bit older and more mature and would have the common sense to know that having a vendor install carpet at 8 in the morning when the hotel has few vacancies is not a way to ensure repeat visits.
To get around Catalina, either rent a golf cart (cars are not available as they are limited on the island) or take one of the many fascinating tours. Catalina is also a destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Hikers and campers enjoy the island, as 88% of the land is public and permanently protected. There are two ways to get to Catalina: either by boat or fly. Getting there is half the adventure. We took the a href="http://www.catalinaexpress.com/index.php">Catalina Express from Dana Point, which is a 90-minut ride. The seas were calm and we rode outside on our way over to the island. There is even a golf course on the island. We really enjoyed Catalina and hope to get back there someday.
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Busy Bee – 306 Crescent Avenue, Avalon, CA 310-510-1983
Antonio’s Pizzeria & Cabaret - 230 Crescent Avenue, Avalon, CA 310-510-0008
Armstrong’s Fish Market & Seafood Restaurant – 306 Crescent Avenue, Avalon, CA 310-510-0113
Joe’s Place – 501 Crescent Avenue, Avalon, CA 310-510-0491
There is nightlife in Avalon, but you’re more likely to find it during the summer months. We went there the week after Labor Day, and already places were on their “winter” schedules. The bartender at Antonio’s told us there was karaoke at El Galleon, but when we walked over, the sign said no karaoke due to “winter hours.” This being California, we figured when the temperature dipped into the 60s at night they figured it was winter. We didn’t really go there for the nightlife, but if you look for it, you will likely find it.
We were there in early September, and the weather was beautiful. It was sunny and warm during the day, but it could get chilly in the shade. Nighttime temperatures were cooler (but not too cool). Catalina has a Mediterranean-like climate and does not receive a lot of rain.
Be sure to take several SCICO tours (depending on how long you are there). It gives you a unique perspective on the island. Definitely walk down to the Casino and take a tour if you can – it’s worthwhile and the building is stunning. Take a camera and expect to take a lot of pictures – the scenery lends itself easily to photography. If you are going by ferry, reserve your tickets in advance. You cannot take as much luggage to Catalina as you can check on a plane. Bags must be smaller in size. We took collapsible bags in our luggage and used them to carry what we needed to Catalina.