By Greg Aragon
The lobster ravioli was delicious, the bloody mary was spicy and potent, and the view of colorful boats bobbing in the water behind my table was incredible. Dinner at Café del Rey was a great way to end a wonderful day in Marina del Rey.
My getaway to the waterfront city began when I checked into a gorgeous suite at The Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles Marina Del Rey. Located across the street from the marina and beach, and within walking distance to restaurants, the hotel makes a perfect base camp while in town.
My suite at The Hilton Garden Inn overlooked the pool and featured a super comfy king bed, a spacious sitting area with sofa sleeper and two large TVs. Other room amenities included an office desk with complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, and a small kitchenette area with microwave, refrigerator, Keurig coffee maker and sink.
Beyond cozy rooms and luxury suites, the hotel boasts a Jacuzzi and heated pool with marina views, fitness center, 24-hour lobby business center, on-site bicycle rentals, a gourmet restaurant, and meeting/conference rooms.
But the hotel’s best feature is its proximity to the spectacular marina. Built in the early 1960s at the site of an old salt marsh, Marina del Rey is a modern wonder of construction. As one of the world’s largest man-made small craft harbors, it features eight basins and is home to approximately 6,500 boats.
In spite of its epic marina and quaint seaside location, Marina del Rey is still kind of a hidden gem. Located near the larger, more famous areas of Los Angeles such as Venice Beach and Santa Monica, the tiny city can be overlooked. But for savvy travelers from around the globe, the place is waterfront paradise.
Janet Zaldua, CEO of the Marina del Rey Convention & Visitors Bureau says, “Marina del Rey is an urban waterfront playground that offers tourists resort-like amenities, exceptional hotel accommodations, and dining experiences with breathtaking Marina views.”
To get an up-close look at the water and boats, and some of the luxury condos and new developments lining the shoreline, I rented a kayak from the Pro SUP Shop. Located in the parking lot in front of Mother’s Beach, the company specializes in stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking and offers daily rentals and lessons by professional ASI & WPA certified instructors.
During my hour tour of the harbor I paddled past million-dollar yachts and old wooden sloops. I waved to small boats passing by and barking seals sunbathing on docks. Kayaking is not only a great way to see the harbor; it is also a good workout and very relaxing. For those looking to get into paddle boarding or kayaking Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey is probably one of the best places in the Los Angeles area to learn.
After playing on the water, I walked over to the swimming area for Mother’s Beach. Here I laid out my towel and put my umbrella in the sand and relaxed. I then headed back to my suite for a nap. For dinner I walked 10 minutes to Café del Rey.
Set on the harbor, with memorable views of boats and sunsets, Café del Rey is led by Executive Chef Job Carder who has created an exciting menu highlighted by creative seafood dishes, along with top quality steaks, chicken, chops and salads. The restaurant has been recognized by Food Network and Wine Spectator.
My meal at the Café del Rey began with chilled large shrimp with fresh herbs and cocktail sauce. With this I had a spicy bloody mary. For the main course, I enjoyed lobster ravioli with poached lobster tail, lobster mousse ravioli, lobster truffle sauce, mushrooms, peas and bottarga. While devouring this succulent dish, I watched boats bob in the harbor just outside the window.
The next morning, I worked out at the hotel’s fitness center and then walked across the street for breakfast at Cafe Buna, a local favorite, known for its breakfast menu, which is served all day. Here I devoured Juevos Rancheros with flour tortillas, avocado, sour cream, over easy eggs, ranchero sauce, beans, rice and cheese.
The Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles Marina Del Rey is located at 4200 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, California, 90292. For more info, call (310) 301-2000 or visit: hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com. For more information on visiting Marina del Rey, visit: visitmarinadelrey.com.