30801 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
This five-star beachfront hotel toes the line between being a hub of activity and a luxurious, only-in-Southern-California hideaway. For restoration, head to the sprawling spa for a customized wellness-oriented treatment or a meditation class. Mind cleared, make your way to the on-site outfitter Compass Sports—where staff will coordinate local mountain biking, paddleboarding, hiking, and surfing expeditions—or to the palm tree–lined, mosaic-tiled pool. Big ocean views and a light, airy design define the 250 rooms; for guests seeking extra solitude and space, there are bungalow suites, which are essentially private beach houses. At the hotel’s three eateries, it’s all seasonal all the time, from the fresh morning juices to evening cocktails. That ethos peaks at the fine-dining restaurant Studio, where executive chef Craig Strong creates elegantly plated French-meets-California dishes using locally sourced fish and meat, along with vegetables picked from the hotel’s 1,000-square-foot garden. Pro tip: In a setting this transporting, you almost want to break into song. Good news—the hotel will rent out mini guitars to guests for the duration of their stay.
3300 Newport Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663, USA
Location, location, location—it’s an adage that holds true at Lido House. Opened in 2018, the boutique hotel took over Newport Beach’s former city hall complex—putting it in the center of town and, most notably, right down the street from the stylish shopping and dining hub Lido Marina Village. The hotel’s rooftop bar (the only one in Newport), spa, and cabana-lined saltwater pool have also become destinations in and of themselves. An upscale Cape Code sensibility prevails in the 130 guest rooms and suites; there are also five three-story cottages, each with a private roof deck and one-of-a-kind furnishings selected by a local interior designer. The Lido Limo provides surfboards, bikes, and shuttle service to the beach a few minutes away. At the hotel’s restaurant the Mayor’s Table Pacific Pub & Kitchen, it’s worth splurging on the eight- to 14-course no-menu meal at the chef’s counter, where executive chef/partner Riley Huddleston makes magic with the freshest ingredients available. Fair warning: Morning mimosas from the champagne cart and Dungeness crab doughnuts at night might become hard-to-break habits.
21500 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA 92648, USA
You know you’re in Southern California when you have your own “beach bonfire concierge” who brings you warm drinks, blankets, and fresh marshmallows under the stars. Distinctive and without pretense, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach creates seamless only-in-Surf City experiences for its guests. Its on-site outfitter, Toes on the Noes, rents surfboards, cruiser bikes, and even GoPros to guests. The hotel also offers private surf lessons and yoga classes. The sprawling Spanish-style property has several pools—for serenity, hit the lagoon-style Mankota’s; with kids, make your way to the water playground—as well as a spa where treatments incorporate ingredients from the sea. Of the five restaurants, Watertable is the one not to miss, especially in the fall and winter months when it hosts its California-fied version of Sunday supper, a family-style feast that includes sumac-crusted branzino and whipped goat cheese tartlets along with innovative cocktails. The 517 rooms and suites were recently reimagined in Andalusian style, with grass cloth–covered walls, coral sculptures, and hand-painted tiles; opt for one on the ground floor to have your own private fire pit. Pro tip: On Saturdays during the summer, the sandcastle concierge—yes, there’s one of those, too—gives tutorials on building architectural wonders by the surf.
1600 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA
The first Disney resort built inside one of its theme parks, the Grand Californian puts you in the epicenter of the happiest place on Earth. And being on the inside has its benefits: Hotel guests get extra time at Disneyland before normal visiting hours, as well as a special entrance for Disney California Adventure Park. The upscale hotel’s 948 rooms, which were redesigned in 2017, blend the park’s playful magic—you’ll find subtle murals of Disney characters throughout—with an authentic arts and crafts motif (for views of the park, choose a deluxe or premium room). At the Storytellers Café and Hearthstone Lounge, kids can hobnob with Mickey Mouse and friends. No less notable is Napa Rose executive chef Andrew Sutton, who connects with diners at his Chef’s Counter, where personalized menus are available alongside the seasonal prix-fixe selection. More than 50 servers with sommelier training can help you choose from the 17,000-bottle wine cellar. Pro tip: Recover from a long day at the park with the Zen Buddhist tea ceremony and Balinese massage at the Mandara Spa.
One Ritz Carlton Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629, USA
Total immersion is the draw of the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, which sits on a bluff 150 feet above the Pacific’s craggy coastline. The hotel delivers Ritz-Carlton’s trademark luxury—two pools with bucolic garden views, beach butlers on the sand—but also an authentic sense of place. Naturalists lead whale-watching and snorkeling excursions, as well as an ocean-inspired art program that was developed by marine-life artist Wyland. Spa treatments include seaweed wraps, marine collagen facials, and a foot massage inspired by the rhythm of the ocean. Even the resort’s marble-bedecked interiors integrate the environment, including a sculpture in the lobby by artist James Aarons made of 225 ceramic and gold pieces inspired by American cliff swallows, which migrate through the area. Shuttles take guests to and from the swimmable, surfable Salt Creek public beach below. Meals at the six restaurants are indulgent but never fussy, whether it’s pasture-raised beef and artisanal cheese at enoSTEAK, or pan-seared scallops with morita-glazed pork belly at the pan-Latin restaurant Raya. Pro tip: Before the sun dips below the horizon, grab a spot by a fire pit at the lounge 180blu, order a tamarind-togarashi margarita, and enjoy the views of the Pacific.