Summary: IMHO, this is the best hotel you can find on Catalina Island if you're looking for a nice place with enough modern amenities to be very comfortable but you don't plan to spend your entire vacation at Catalina in the hotel. It's very cozy, rooms are modern and nicely furnished, friendly staff, close to town center but not in the middle of it. Get the ocean view (_01) or balcony view (_02) rooms but beware of the small _06 rooms.
This was my second visit to Catalina Island. The first was over 15 years ago while I was in college and stayed at one of the campsites (still a nice place). As much searching, comparing and reading reviews, I settled on The Avalon Hotel because it looked real cosy in the photos and not "stuffy". More importanly, it was located close enough the the center of Avalon but not right smack in the middle of it. I want to be close enough where I can walk to everything and party all night but can go back to a nice quiet room.
The rates included taxi transfer from the island ferry terminal (you need to find your own way to the island - the express is good). It's a coupon which is mailed to you in advanced which you and to the driver (tips - extra). It was just a short distance away but the island roads with 1-way streets and narrow alleys took almost as long if we had walked (if we didn't have bags) which was about 5-7 minutes.
The hotel did not look very impressive from the street but as you enter, things started to feel warmer. The reception area is small but adequate and the staff were very friendly. Check-in was very efficient and we were directed to our rooms on the 3rd floor in just a few minutes. There're always cookies/sweets and drinks (punch, water, coffee/tea) at the reception which is nice. The hallways and stairs are somewhat narrow but very charming. It looks like the hotel owners took this old building and remodeled it but retained a lot of the design but with "useful" improvements. The decor was just nice, not overdone with a few art pieces here and there. The useful improvement was the carpeting and sound proofing. Throughout our 3 night stay, we hardly heard the footsteps outside - quite a feat for an old wooden building.
We got to our balcony view room (you can see the ocean from the balcony) and felt relaxed rightaway. The room was just the right size (small by business hotel standards but we're not on business) and was very well laid out. The bed was comfy with extra pillows. A nice LCD TV on the wall, DVD player (you can borrow DVDs from the front desk) and CD player on the nightstand. Fridge, microwave and electronic safe available. Bathroom was simple but nice and very clean. Plenty of towels and 2 bathrobes were provided. The soap, shampoo and lotions were really nice custom brand stuff not the mass market types you get from the big chains. These are the best I've seen in any hotel (including W, 4-seasons, ritz, etc... - I travel a lot for biz). The balcony view was very nice though the room ahead of us (301) would've been better - I made reservations a little late so 301 was not available. Still it was nice outside and we could see bits of the city and the ocean. A small desk in the room was adequate for any little bit of "desk work" you needed to do but if came here with desk work, you might as well have checked into the Westin in LA.
Breakfast is served out by the garden just off the reception. They have a large fireplace which is great on cooler days and a fish pond with some very fat Koi that are always eager for a treat. The continental breakfast is pretty standard fare but if you want bacon & eggs, it's a 5-8 minute walk to many such options. No other food service options though you could have food delivered.
The roof top is open in the day for hotel guests. It's a nice place to hang out on the deck chairs, have a free drinks (free soda, flavored teas, water) in a self-serve fridge but you're welcome to BYOB. Nice view of the ocean and parts of the city - we're high but not nearly enough.
3 nights went by way too fast for such a great place and though we didn't spend a huge amount of time in the hotel, every minute there was pleasant and we'll definitely come back. Sure, the Avalon Hotel doesn't have all the fancy amenities that others nearby boasts of but I didn't plan my vacation at Catalina Island centered around a hotel. I had the whole island to go explore and other stuff to do. I already spend over 120 nights in hotel rooms around the world for work so I just wanted a nice, clean, cozy place with the necessary amenities to be comfortable and a great environment for my short vacation. That's the Avalon Hotel.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.