Orange County’s Laguna Beach could be a caricature of all that is Southern California: sandy beaches, chic cafes, upscale shopping and lavishly landscaped foothill mansions. It’s somewhat smaller and slower-paced than neighboring Pacific Coast Highway towns, with a close-knit arts community. Laguna Beach hotel guests can hit Laguna Beach’s famed surf breaks, search tidepools for miniature marine creatures, catch a show at the Laguna Playhouse, or relax poolside with a glass of California wine.
The boutique hotel Seven4One, located in downtown Laguna Beach, offers guests the chance to escape busy Pacific Coast Highway and crowded beaches. Tiny Seven4One, once the location of the historic Eiler’s Inn, features 10 guest rooms and two one-bedroom suites. For a pampered beach experience, book a Seven4One “sand valet” attendant to set up beach equipment; proffer chilled, herb-scented towels and water mists to parched skin; and check whether sunscreen is properly applied. Seven4One, an energy-efficient venue, provides earth-friendly bamboo towels, offers newspapers on a request-only basis, and utilizes native plantings to reduce water consumption.
Southern Californians, famous for sun-kissed good looks, don’t necessarily come by their manicured appearances without professional assistance. Join the ranks of Orange County spa enthusiasts by staying at Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, which offers on-site spa treatments. Spa services are restricted to registered guests, cutting down on wait time. Hotel visitors can choose from three types of massage, including a couples’ massage featuring champagne and garden hot tub soak. Hot stone treatments incorporate warmed stones placed on the body’s pressure points, and aromatherapy essences accentuate papaya salt glow scrubs. The hotel offers a breakfast menu that includes salmon crepes with fennel oil.
Laguna Beach can be a picturesque place to get married, with its ocean views, palm trees gusting in the sea breeze, and garden terraces. Hotel Laguna, located directly on South Coast Highway for convenient access to the beach and shopping areas, caters to lovebirds with romantic staging areas for weddings. Hotel guests can wed before a rose garden gazebo; on a balcony banquet room featuring ocean views, private bar and dance floor; or in the hotel’s intimate wine cellar. Amenities include complimentary breakfast, newspaper and a private beach. History buffs may be interested to know that the hotel’s original structure, Laguna Beach’s first hotel, burned to the ground 60 days after opening and was rebuilt in 1888.
For families or business travelers remaining in Laguna Beach for extended stays, the Pacific Edge Hotel offers one- and two-bedroom apartments equipped with living room areas, kitchenettes and dining room areas. Amenities include free Internet access, coffee maker, fridge and microwave. Ask about the hotel’s “pillow menu” for specialized sleeping -- hotel guests can request puffy down pillows, hypoallergenic pillows, memory foam pillows or buckwheat pillows. For sunbathers, Pacific Edge Hotel’s two heated pools feature daybeds for dozing in the sunshine and ping pong tables for friendly competition.