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What Makes a Great Hotel? Our Readers Let Us Know

Lodgings: Responses show the extras count. Preferences range from romance and aromas to views and decor.


Attention, hotel managers and marketing departments. Your customers want clean rooms, responsive service, a handsome location and bargain prices. For starters.

Beyond that, as the list that follows will show, we have myriad preferences, many of them highly individualized, some of them mutually exclusive. The following entries were typed, printed and scrawled on the nearly 900 nominations this section received when we asked readers to name their favorite under-$100 hotel in California. (This week's cover story reveals the 71 hotels cited most often.)

Terry Segura of Colton likes the Casa Tropicana at the San Clemente pier for "the view, the room, the view, the breakfast, the view, the people, the view, the patio, the view, the coffee and the view."

Robert and Noma Harks of Tujunga like the Miramar Hotel in Montecito because it "provides the ambience of peace and elegance of 1920s America."

Mary Thompson of Canoga Park endorses the the Tree House Best Western in Mount Shasta with two words: "Swinging beds!" (Desk clerk Carol DeClusin offers a clarification: In one of the hotel's 95 rooms, "there's a queen-size bed that is attached with chains to the ceiling. A lot of the locals rent it for their wedding night or anniversary. That kind of thing.")

Alta Yanofsky of Los Angeles likes the Days Inn on East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs because "it is close to a synagogue so we can pray on Saturday."

Victor Wong of Pasadena admires "the innkeepers and the romanticism" of La Mer European Bed & Breakfast in Ventura--so much that he and his wife got engaged there.

Karen Fiore of Westlake Village likes Santa Maria's Rose Garden Inn for the "jillions of roses on [the] property."

Bette Crist of Torrance singles out the Hyatt Regency Suites Palm Springs because "as a handicapped person, [I find] the personnel at this hotel make me feel mainstream."

Mason McNeil of Kingsburg likes the Casa Laguna Bed & Breakfast in Laguna Beach for its "bird aviary, bell tower and secluded patios."

Judy Fujita of Rancho Palos Verdes likes the Caboose Hotel in Dunsmuir for its unorthodox design: "a circle of bright red cabooses, lovingly renovated into comfortable motel units."

Barbara Nanney of the San Fernando Valley likes Ojai's Theodore Woolsey House because visiting is "like a trip to grandma's house."

R. Brand of Calabasas recommends the Cal Neva Resort Lake Tahoe (on the California-Nevada border), a "quiet hotel with gambling.".

In a somewhat related spirit, Michele Parker of Toluca Lake names the Spa Hotel and Casino in Palm Springs: "Fun casino playing at night all on sacred Cahuilla Indian land." (The Spa Hotel is owned by the Cahuillas.)

Mary Ann Mucita of Camarillo prefers the Royal Scandinavian Hotel in Solvang, especially in December, "because the hotel has more ambience than any other we've been to--Xmas cookies, cider, warm fireplace, beautiful tree, carolers and spacious rooms, all within walking distance of all the decorated Xmas shops of Solvang."

John Court of Montecito, who prefers "no BS" from his innkeepers, lauds the Ojai Manor Hotel. There's "no frou frou," he explains. "No stuffed animals or dolls on the bed. Innkeeper doesn't chat unless chatted to. Great breakfast."

Similarly pragmatic, Mrs. R. Phillips of Ridgecrest points out the "extra pillows, plenty of heavy towels, good reading wattage in lamps, outstanding breakfast" at the Crown Sterling Suites, El Segundo.

Deb Wansel of Hermosa Beach likes the Cambria Shores Inn, in part because it's clean, but mostly because "they allow dogs (well-behaved) of all sizes. My two had a lot of fun."

Marsha Litter of Los Angeles likes the homemade granola at Mariposa's Fifth Street Inn, just outside Yosemite National Park; G. Munnecke of San Marino prefers the blueberry pancakes at White Wolf Lodge at Tioga Pass, within the park.

Tina Esposito of Santa Monica casts her vote for the Metropolitan Hotel in San Francisco because "it's OK to be a smoker here; sorry, it's not for nonsmokers."

On a contrarily odorous note, Jackie Roth of Pomona likes the potpourri in Solvang's Chimney Sweep Inn.

Melissa Annis of Laguna Niguel likes the Willows Bed & Breakfast in San Francisco because the furniture is handmade willow.

Belinda Gonzalez of Torrance likes the La Quinta Inn of Irvine because "the rooms were once an old grain silo."

Ramin Zahed of Los Angeles prefers the Lorane Manor Spa Motel in Desert Hot Springs because it's "way out in the middle of nowhere" and free of "smog, noise, mean Hollywood types, traffic and bad attitudes."

And finally, we have H. Festner of Van Nuys, who calls our attention to the Motel 6 Lost Hills (in Kern County) for two rock-solid reasons: "It's cheap and you can drive to Wasco in half an hour."

Reynolds travels anonymously at the newspaper's expense, accepting no special discounts or subsidized trips. To reach him, write Travel Insider, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053; telephone (213) 237-7845.

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