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WESTERN TRAVEL | SLEEPOVER

A beach-side rendezvous at Tower23

December 31, 2006|Valli Herman | Times Staff Writer

San Diego — A slick boutique hotel called Tower23 bills itself as a sophisticated seaside resort for upscale travelers. Named for a not-so-nearby lifeguard tower on Pacific Beach, the 44-room hotel perches on the bike path along a stretch of beach usually populated by surfers and cash-strapped families.

Bunking down: The hotel's rooms and suites are done in a cool, minimalist style and seashore tones. The bed is a soft blue platform of pouf, padded with fat pillows and down. You can slip into the low-slung chaise and twiddle on the Xbox video game console or bliss out with the plasma-screen TV and lots of movies on order. A quality mini-bar assortment (Dean & DeLuca chocolates) tempts from beneath a long plank that stretches across the drawers, desk and refrigerator.

Hanging around: The horseshoe-shaped hotel surrounds the Tower Deck, an outdoor cocktail and sunning lounge with ocean views that will be either your favorite meeting spot or your source of late-night grating music and shrill giggles. JRDN (pronounced "Jordan"), the hotel's vowels-optional restaurant, has become the destination for boisterous birthdays and pink-martini toasts. The restaurant's beach-side patio is a busy spot, day and night, for locals, hotel guests and other tourists who can watch the parade of humanity and eccentricity wheel past on the bike path.

Going out: If you have sophisticated tastes, you'll want to stick to the hotel's restaurant or sushi bar, because the neighborhood offers mostly beery bars. During the day, activity centers on the beach; the hotel doesn't have a pool, a spa or a lobby large enough for lounging. SeaWorld and other San Diego attractions are a reasonably short distance away.

Perks and peeves: Built on a former parking lot near a Smart & Final, Tower23, which opened last year, is an oasis in a sea of asphalt, but it's not a resort and not really a family place. It's a well-designed hotel that offers the young and party-prone a fashionable escape on the beach. Some suites boast hot tubs with aromatherapy, but the least expensive rooms may not even include a bathtub. Spa services, such as a $120 hourlong massage or a $110 yoga lesson, are available in the room, but not all rooms can comfortably accommodate them.

Although the ocean air is properly fresh and briny, it's difficult to feel immersed, because the hotel is removed from the beach, with sidewalks, cliffs and stairs as barriers. There are no beach towels at this beach hotel, and you may not wish to spoil your pristine bath allotment or periwinkle bathrobe.

valli.herman@latimes.com

Tower23, 723 Felspar St., Pacific Beach, CA 92109; (866)-TOWER23 (869-3723), www.tower23hotel.com. Rooms $199-$469, suites $579-$1,800.

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