If you didn’t know better, you might mistake Ojai’s Emerald Iguana Inn for the nicest house on the block. Tucked in a cozy residential neighborhood among big oak trees and blooming plants, it doesn’t fit the typical Southern California hotel mold. Located about two hours from Los Angeles, instead of glitz and glamour, you get quiet and quirky.
With just 13 rooms, it’s more like a bed and breakfast than a hotel. No two rooms are alike and instead of a number, every room is identified by name. I spent two nights in Acorn. The king size bed and elephant mosaic headboard grabbed my attention when I turned the key. Yes, key. They use the real deal at the Emerald Iguana Inn. The key ring is a beaded piece of art in its own right and includes a tiny flash light to help you find your way when walking on the property at night.
With a spacious, open floor plan, Acorn is huge by hotel standards. To the left of the bed is a separate living room with sofa, chair, fireplace, television and dresser. To the right is a dining room table that seats four. And I bet it gets put to good use, because Acorn also has a full, well-stocked kitchen. The room, just like the other dozen, is decorated with one-of-a-kind art and furniture. Apparently the owners like to travel and they’ve picked up much of the Inn’s distinctive décor along the way.
Acorn’s bathroom is split into two rooms. The vanity is large with plenty of room for toiletries and there’s an impressive amount of storage space in addition to a tradition closet. But to reach the shower and toilet you have to climb a few stairs. High windows in a light well above give the space a bright and airy feel, but this is the one spot in the room where space is tight. The toilet is squeezed in between a wall and the shower. You know how much knee room you have when you fly economy? It’s like that.
But it’s easy to forget about the close quarters when you walk outside to Acorn’s patio. It’s bigger than many hotel rooms with a table for four, two lounge chairs and plenty of room to move around in between them. The patio backs up to the entrance of the neighboring apartment complex’s parking area, so there is some street noise, but all in all it’s one of many quiet nooks and crannies on the property.
A generous breakfast is served near the pool every morning starting at 8am. Along with an assortment of breads and pastries, there’s fresh fruit, yogurt, granola and for non-coffee drinkers a nice selection of teas.
When you grab breakfast, you may be inspired to spend some time poolside. There’s a nice mix of sunny and shady spots, along with a hot tub. The Emerald Iguana Inn’s no pets and no kids under 14 policy, for the most part, ensure a splash-free quiet zone. The area is bordered by a blooming garden and a number of artistic touches including lanterns and sculptures. The pool is open 8am to 10pm daily.
The hotel is less than a 10 minute walk from Downtown Ojai’s shopping and restaurants. Things tend to close earlier as opposed to later in Ojai, so don’t think you’ll be able to wander after dinner. The property is also an easy 20 minute walk to a number of scenic hiking trails. There is an information binder in all of the rooms. Along with important need to know tidbits about the Inn, it contains a handy Ojai Valley hiking guide for inspiration. The guide lists 25 hikes, their distance, difficulty level and a brief description.
The office is routinely open from 8am to 8pm, but if you need something when it is closed there is a phone number to call for assistance.
All rooms at The Emerald Iguana Inn are non-smoking. Most rooms have private patios or balconies, a fireplace and kitchen, but a few rooms only have a microwave and mini-fridge, so be specific about your needs and wants when you make your reservation. Internet access is complimentary.
Rates to stay in Acorn range from $219 to $329, depending on the time of year.
Dana’s stay at The Emerald Iguana Inn was organized by the Ojai Visitors Bureau, but as always Dana’s thoughts and opinions are her own.