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Sometimes the pieces come together perfectly and a great getaway is formed without much planning. Such was the case last week when a friend and I drove down to Laguna Beach for the annual Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts extravaganza and were pleasently surprised when we discovered the historic Hotel Laguna in the process.
Set on the sand, steps from the ocean, the Hotel Laguna was built in 1888 as the first hotel in Laguna Beach. Today, after more than 125 years, the hotel is still welcoming guests to beach-front luxury, with lots of old fashioned charm.
Our getaway to the hotel began when we checked into an quaint 2nd floor room overlooking the beach. To get to our quarters we strolled through a bright and stately lobby with marble flooring, vintage photography on the walls and a piano in the corner. We then past the elevator and opted for the old wooden stairs to absorb more of the hotel’s historic allure.
Our room at Hotel Laguna came with great beach views
In our room we found cozy, minimalist comfort with a king bed, large TV, bright bathroom with tub/shower, and an incredible view of the ocean. It was a beautiful July day, so the beach below us was bustling with colorful sunbathers and swimmers. The sight was so tempting, we quickly unpacked and changed into our swimsuits and then found our own spot on the sand.
To get to the beach, we walked out the back of the hotel, through its lush Rose Garden with gazebo and lawn, and down the steps of its signature restaurant, The Ocean View Bar and Grill. While laying on the beach we got a good look at the “Laguna Beach Riviera,” a stretch of beach lined with hotels. And standing out amongst these structures is Hotel Laguna with its classic early Californian and Spanish architecture.
The beach is only steps from the hotel
The hotel, which was originally constructed during the California travel boom of the 1880s, was demolished and rebuilt and reopened in 1930 with fresh white paint, side Spanish arches and a bell tower that never had a bell! The hotel used to sport a huge neon sign on the top of the hotel that read “Hotel Laguna” to all those traveling north and south on the Coast Highway. It was a beacon of rest and relaxation, but was removed thanks to a 1996 ordinance law. In 1985 the hotel was refurbished with “an award winning establishment with a European flair.”
Hotel Laguna was originally built in the 1880s and then rebuilt in 1930s
One of my favorite pieces of history at the hotel is the actual Guest Registry Book from 1931 that is on display in the lobby in a hand-crafted glass case. The opened page of the book shows many travels who came from Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Los Angeles to sleep by the beach.
After relaxing on the sand, we walked directly across the street from the hotel for lunch at The Pizza Lounge (www.pizzalounges.com), where I had one of the best pepperoni and sausage pizza’s I’ve ever had. While enjoying pizza and a calamari salad, with tomatoes with honey mustard dressing, we watched an interesting array of locals and tourist walk by, along busy South Coast Highway.
We also admired the town’s colorful red and blue trolleys as they drove past the front of Hotel Laguna. Running free through summer, the trolleys take riders across town to all the art galleries, boutique shops, restaurants, beach areas, and to the world-famous Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts which is going on now through August 31 and is located a few blocks from the hotel.
Free city trolleys run past the hotel
Hotel Laguna is located at 425 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. For more information and reservations, call (949) 494-1151 or visit: www.hotellaguna.com