This is the toughest review to write that I have ever attempted. Overall, our room for two nights was not so good compared to other hotels on the island in which we have stayed. But on the other hand, compared to other areas in which I have stayed, this stay is toward the bottom of the list for some very glaring reasons. If you could exclude the bathroom, I would give our room a 3, but all things considered, I've rated this property a two.
Upon arrival on the island, you take your luggage to the Hermosa Hotel, a sister property. You place it in an unsecured room with the luggage of other guests who are checking in and those who have checked out but not yet departed the island. The staff here at the Catalina Beach House work only as necessary to accommodate guests in the check-in, check-out process and room cleaning. The rest of the time, they are at the Hermosa. You return to the Hermosa around three pm to identify your bags, have them loaded onto a shuttle and you are given a lift to the Catalina Beach House, space permitting on the shuttle. They then return to the Hermosa. If you have any problems during the course of the rest of your stay, you have to call the sister motel for help using what is referred to as ‘the bat phone’ located in a box in front of the office.
The grounds, if rated by themselves, would receive one star, or less if possible. Peeling paint, lack of maintenance, the only ice maker being out of order, all cry out to a seasoned traveler to use caution when staying here. There are a few ‘patios’ or decks, all of which are in disrepair. Some of the trim is peeling and some is completely bare. One does have a bar-b-que for guest use. There are exposed wires on the back side of the building. All of this really is too bad because the place definitely has the potential to regain its lost charm of yesteryear.
This review is primarily on the grounds and room 8. No two rooms are alike. The clerk who checked us in told us that our room is only one of two which has an ocean view, and the other costs three times as much. Well, our room had only a partial ocean view, most of it being blocked by houses and trees between the motel and the ocean.
Most of our room has been remodeled but the bathroom is lost in the 40’s. Open the bathroom door and two feet in front of you is the door to the stall shower. You must make a hard right turn to face the small sink which has no vanity or countertop. You have to turn to the left and squeeze between the sink and the corner of the shower to get to the toilet. A plus here is that after a long night of drinking, you could sit on the throne and throw up in the sink without moving an inch. By the way, make sure you lift the flush handle after flushing or it will run forever. There are wall mounted soap and toothbrush holders which have corrosion on the top of each, if that tells you anything. The faucet aerator was seen down in the drain since it had no stopper. An ‘over the door’ towel holder was screwed to the wall.
Lighting in both the room and bathroom was minimal. With the kitchen light on, you could barely see the sink/countertop or stove. Since there was no horizontal surface in the bathroom, I was forced to put my contacts in in the kitchen, despite the low light. The bathroom was even worse, and was so small, my wife couldn’t put make up on in there and there was no other mirror in the room.
The television is wall mounted next to the bathroom door. There is no bed, nor any seating directly across from it unless you move chairs from the table nearby. The outlet for the tv is above it, high on the wall.
The curtains are something else… Old, tattered, thread-bare and well worn are all accurate adjectives. They are tied back to the sides of the window with strips of the curtains which have been cut off and tied in a plain knot. The curtain rods sag. Two windows still have the brackets indicating they once had some kind of mini-blind, but that was years ago. The window next to one bed has no screen.
The room has a kitchenette, but the mini-fridge is located on a short chest-of-drawers next to one of the beds, about 12 feet away. To use the coffee maker, you must bring it down from a shelf to plug it in. The microwave, on the other hand, is plugged into an outlet through a hole in a layer of sheet rock which is small enough to expose only half of the outlet. There are no doors on the front of the kitchen cabinets.
One of the two queen beds in our room was quite comfortable. The other wasn’t and was also noisy whenever you would turn over. There were no headboards nor were there nightstands. The clothes closet was very small and had no door.
At about 9 pm on our first night, I discovered the ice machine was broken. Using the bat phone, I called the afterhours clerk and asked if there was another on grounds. I was told no, but that Vons market sells ice and is open until 11 pm. That’s fine, but it’s quite an uphill trek back up the hill to the room while making the 5-6 block round trip.
For check-out, you leave your key in a drop box and, if you wish, you can take them to the Hermosa Hotel and they will store them for you until your departure time.
From the main street and the beach, it is a fairly steep walk up the street to the hotel. If you have any medical problems such as history of heart attack, COPD, or mobility issues, it would be wise to take a cab back to the property. After an active full day consisting of a 2 hour bicycle ride, walking back to the hotel twice, and walking around downtown, my knee started acting up, giving me a lot of pain. We stopped at the Hermosa Hotel to get a shuttle ride at about 3:20 and were told all guests had already checked in and that every one of the staff was too busy to give us a ride back to the Catalina Beach House just because we were tired. We were told they could call a cab for us. After re-explaining that tired wasn’t the issue, but I was hurting, they relented. Upon arrival at the CBH, there was a guest waiting there to check in, so not everyone had already done so.
During the course of our stay, I was able to see other rooms while the maids were cleaning up and by talking to other guests on the patio. Room #1 seems to be the room to ask for, unless the ocean view is a really big deal to you. It was like being in a totally different hotel. Etched glass doors on the tub, new cabinetry and new flooring made this room shine. Room B and room 1 are really nice. Each has a tub and remodeled kitchen, though both are a bit smaller than room 8. Room 9 was OK, and 10 & 11 were only so-so.
Don’t trust the pictures you see on Booking.com and only trust member photos submitted recently on TripAdvisor. The older photos and the ‘professional’ photos are very dated and don’t show this property accurately.
The short story is that if you are looking for a place to lay your head at the end of a long, tiring day of sight-seeing, this isn't too bad. But if you're looking to spend any amount of time in the room and can't get room B or room 1, look elsewhere.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This charming property is located one block uphill from the beach in a quiet residential area still walking distance to the shops and restaurants. Modern kitchenettes and our sunny patios set the scene for relaxing barbecues with family and friends. Store your bikes in our lush courtyards or enjoy lounging on one of our public or semi-private decks with sweeping harbor views. We have some pet friendly rooms. This is the perfect setting for intimate weddings and small events and celebrations. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Catalina Beach House Hotel Avalon
- Catalina Beach Hotel
- Catalina Beach Avalon
- Catalina Boat House Catalina Island/Avalon, CA