You can't just jump in the car and drive to the Hotel Metropole. It takes more planning than that since it's located on Catalina Island, in the city of Avalon, 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. A Catalina Express high speed boat is the best bet for visiting this picturesque town and Catalina Island.
These high speed boats leave up to 30 times per day delivering passengers from Long Beach and San Pedro to Avalon Harbor in about an hour. The boats are fast and comfortable, although the ride can be rocky when seas are stormy. Seats are available inside and outside for that wind in your hair excitement.
Catalina Island was made famous years and years ago in this song by the Four Preps: 26 Miles (Santa Catalina). Today it's a great weekend getaway from the hectic lifestyle of Los Angeles.
It's an easy walk from the dock to the Hotel Metropole. Cabs are available if you have lots of luggage. Along the harbor path you will see several gift shops, restaurants and bars.
The Hotel Metropole offers four mini-suites with excellent views of the ocean and Avalon Harbor. The rooms overlook the street, but you won't hear much traffic. This review is of Suite #215, which is the lower left room in the above photo.
The hotel entrance is along the side, just up a small hill. You will notice the golf cart above. Very few traditional cars are allowed on Catalina Island, but golf carts and other small vehicles are popular. You can rent a cart for a few hours and drive around town for fun. Avalon is a small town, and very walk-able.
The two story lobby is small and simple. Check in was fast and easy. Access to room #215 was either by elevator, then walking across the hotel, or the fast way -- exiting to the sidewalk, entering an unmarked side door, and climbing a flight of stairs.
Rooms at the Hotel Metropole are lovely. This mini-suite is one very large room with a comfortable bed and a romantic fireplace. I've also stayed in a "Superior" room overlooking the courtyard and found it to be equally well appointed.
A cocktail table and two chairs look out over the balcony to the ocean beyond. Moving the balcony chairs to the side improves the view when inside. The dark wood floors add a modern, elegant feel to the room.
A balcony overlooks Avalon Harbor and the ocean. All four mini-suites at the Hotel Metropole have a similar view, but the second floor units have a balcony above. So if you want full sun exposure, ask for a third/top floor room.
From the balcony it's easy to spend hours watching the water, boats, and passersby on the street. This is one of the best hotel room views available in Avalon.
It should be noted that this room is located next to an outdoor bar. After dark the music shouldn't have been an issue, but the speakers for the bar are screwed into the exterior wall that makes up this part of the hotel. The wall vibrated with the music all evening. Front desk had no solution.
Bath is spacious with a jet tub and separate glass shower. It also has a sliding door that opens up the view out to the ocean.
The Hotel offers a variety of basic amenities. You can find more information about the Hotel Metropole on their website.
A few other rooms have ocean views; most have courtyard exposures that are nice. But they are not as spectacular as the views the mini-suites offer.
Open the window, turn on the fireplace, pour two glasses of wine, and the view from the bed or the balcony will last a lifetime.
Many visitors leave on the evening boat, only spending the day on Catalina Island, and missing the evening stars and the morning sunrise.
A large variety of tours are available for those that want to explore this vast Island. It is controlled by the Catalina Island Conservancy, which limits development and tries to keep the area outside of town as wild and natural as possible.
Take one of the tours of the area and learn about the history of Avalon and Catalina Island. On the pier -- a two-minute walk from the hotel -- are a variety of water sports and boat tours. A few small sandy beach areas are found along the harbor. One is just opposite the Hotel Metropole. You might want to ask first before swimming in the harbor; water pollution from the large number of boats has been a problem in the past.
The Casino Ballroom is in a beautiful, historic structure and a must-see for anyone visiting Catalina. It also houses a movie theater that plays current releases. Arrive early for the show and take in the beauty of the classic art deco movie house.
Catalina Island is a magical spot. It might be just minutes from the City of Angels, but it will transport you back to a time when things were slower and simpler. If you make the extra effort to visit this charming place, you might want to stay at one of the finest hotels in the harbor town of Avalon -- the Hotel Metropole.