Laguna Beach House’s decor highlights California and surf culture. // © 2016 Laguna Beach House
Feature image (above): The expanded pool deck was part of the hotel’s recent renovation. // © 2016 Laguna Beach House
For some travelers, a day in the surf and sand is well-worth the effort it takes to get to the beach. For others, the need to pack — towels, umbrellas, chairs and coolers stuffed with snacks — plus the imminent sticky ride home are enough to sway them toward a museum instead of the sea.
I’m generally a member of the latter group, but when a hotel is oceanfront, my attitude can change as quickly as the tide. Laguna Beach House, a newish boutique property just north of Main Beach in Laguna Beach, Calif., is a fine example of a simple yet blissful seaside hotel that can make any guest’s vacation easy and breezy.
Once Laguna Cliffs Inn, the 36-room Laguna Beach House opened early last year after $1.5 million was spent on thoughtful upgrades, from all-white furnishings and slick surfboard decor to vanities with colorful sinks. Additional details ground the property in its picturesque location: Whether or not you plan to hang 10, it’s fun to read over the day’s surf report, written in chalk in the lobby each morning, and the tremendous California flag hanging nearby dishes out a serious serving of California pride.
The surfer vibes carry into the guestrooms through bold-colored surfboards hung over beds and custom-designed destination posters. White-shuttered windows reveal the hotel pool and/or the sea, and locally-inspired bites and drinks fill the minibar. There’s also the option of in-room shopping. A curated collection of beach necessities such as canvas totes, disposable cameras and paddle tennis sets are priced and available for purchase. Should you find yourself in need of other essentials, the front desk can assist. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to loan, and picnic lunches can be ordered for the next day’s outings.
While the overhead twinkle lights and fire pit make the property’s pool scene quite dreamy, guests will certainly wish to hit the sand, too. And that’s easy to do. The iconic Main Beach is just a few blocks downhill, and a few more steps brings you to the art galleries, shops and restaurants that have long made Laguna Beach one of Southern California’s most beloved destinations. Of all the local gems, don’t miss the sweet treats from Gelato Paradiso, where freshly made waffle cones and creamy gelato call crowds to an adorable brick alleyway just off South Coast Highway.
And in case you haven’t eaten your fill while exploring the town, Laguna Beach House serves treats in the early evenings. Guests might mingle with fellow travelers or ask the front-desk host for local tips during the complimentary wine hour in the lobby around sunset. Later, the alcohol is replaced with cookies and milk — a beloved part of the day for younger visitors. Suffice it to say, you’ve no need for a cooler here. Only friends or family and a little bit of California love are required.