Sunset at the Huntington Beach Pier — Photo courtesy of Shorebreak Hotel
Scenery as beautiful as the Southern California coastline warrants equally special digs. Forget the big chains and hole up in these beautiful boutique hotels which provide a much more intimate and one-of-a-kind experience. These ten will each welcome you in their own, distinct way and have you feeling like an in-the-know local in no time.
In a perfect world, you would start in Los Angeles and ease your way down to San Diego, becoming more relaxed with each stay. Here are our favorite stays for escaping on the Southern California coastline.
Bigger Penthouse at The Standard — Photo courtesy of The Standard
1. The Standard
Living up to its name, this downtown Las Angeles landmark sets a whole new standard for boutique hotels. It’s quirky, with impeccable personal service, oversized rooms and a great sense of design. You can watch movies projected onto the building next door and take in the sights (which often include skinny dippers in the pool) from the rooftop bar. So what if you’re not on the beach? You’re in L.A., baby, and you’ve just joined the A list.
BATH room at Shade Hotel — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
It’s all about the bath at this gem of a hotel which is a quick walk from the pier and the beach. Tubs with personal Sanijet spas hold a place of honor in each guestroom, letting you set the mood through chromatherapy lighting and a flick of the wow-worthy cyclone fireplace. Relax on the rooftop Skydeck or feast on tapas at Zinc. Cake pops replace chocolates on your pillow, and a complimentary breakfast is served buffet-style every morning.
View of the Pier from a Shorebreak guestroom — Photo courtesy of Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel
Kimpton's oceanfront retreat in the heart of Surf City, the aptly-named Shorebreak is ideally situated whether you’re looking to catch a wave or the latest art exhibit. The surf-inspired décor is upscale dude, with a relaxed but totally luxurious vibe. Beach chairs, towels, toys, umbrellas and even cruisers are all there for you but bring along your own favorite beach accessory–your furry friend, who is also considered a VIP here.
Poolside cabanas at Hotel Maya — Photo courtesy of Hotel Maya
4. Hotel Maya
Gorgeously decorated with rich, Mayan-inspired colors and textures, this waterfront hotel–you can see the historic Queen Mary from your window–is full of delightful surprises including fresh-from-the-oven cookies, walls full of original artwork and the seasonal Latin Brunch Dine and Dance series. Go sightseeing via water taxi or park yourself in a floating cabana but make sure you follow your meal at the smoking-hot Fuego with s’mores at the fire pits.
Guestroom at the Inn at Laguna Beach — Photo courtesy of Inn at Laguna Beach
Close to the village yet steps from Main Beach, the inn is a perfect blend of land and sea. Pull open your plantation shutters to reveal the Pacific Ocean in all its splendor or take in the art galleries for which Laguna is celebrated. You’ll feel like you’re staying in a classic beach bungalow–but with wifi. All that salt air builds an appetite which you can satisfy in the hotel's popular Las Brisas or in the multitude of restaurants down the street.
Night swimming at Surf and Sand — Photo courtesy of Surf and Sand
6. Surf & Sand
Prepare to sleep like a baby to the lullabye of the Pacific. In fact, the waves are so close, you’ll actually find earplugs on your bedside table. Surf & Sand offers incomparable ocean views and bright, beachy rooms from which to enjoy them. Get pampered in the award-winning Aquaterra Spa or pamper yourself with the philosophy bath products and comfy robe in your room. Don’t miss dinner at Splashes, where Chef David Fune is redefining coastal cuisine.
Breakfast at the Blue Lantern Inn — Photo courtesy of Blue Lantern Inn
Staying here feels as homey and welcoming as having a best friend with an amazing summer house. Sitting pretty on a bluff above the Dana Point Yacht Harbor, this Four Sisters Inn takes the luxury of a boutique hotel and mixes it with the personal attention of a B&B. The result is happy guests lingering in the warm and inviting sitting area over complimentary breakfast and afternoon wine and hors d’ouevres.
Entrance to the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe — Photo courtesy of Inn at Rancho Santa Fe
Rancho Santa Fe
A staple of this exclusive area for almost a century, the iconic inn combines history and luxury with a quiet sophistication. Stroll along the winding paths of the property’s 21 acres of lush landscaping into the quaint village, where you must share a muffin at Thyme in the Ranch. Then settle into a spa treatment or stretch out with a book. With its atmosphere of peaceful elegance, time seems to stand still here.
Cocktails on the patio at La Valencia — Photo courtesy of La Valencia
9. La Valencia
Affectionately dubbed “The Pink Lady,” this rosy-stuccoed Mediterranean-inspired hotel has towered over the curvy California coastline for nine decades. It’s played host to film stars, writers and sun worshippers who appreciate its old-world charm and extensive amenity list which includes Frette linens and Molton Brown bath products. The pool provides an ocean view as does THE MED, beloved for its weekend brunch. See and be seen at Café La Rue, the new street-facing European bistro.
A new Skyline Collection guestroom at Hotel Palomar San Diego — Photo courtesy of Hotel Palomar San Diego
10. Hotel Palomar
A mélange of surf and turf, Kimpton's Hotel Palomar offers the best of sun-soaked San Diego in a vibrant urban environment. Check out unique packages featuring tandem skydiving, spa treatments and flights of local brews served on Grant Pecoff custom-designed skate decks. Or just curl up and enjoy the view from one of the new Skyline Collection rooms. Wrapped in the comfiest linens, you will finally understand the true meaning of laid back.