Best Hotel Orange County 2009 - Hotel Laguna
Readers' Choice: Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa
It's funky, and your walk is uneven in places. What do you expect from a "world famous" building that opened in 1888? But the fancy restaurant and fancier cocktails (Claes Restaurant boasts a menu just for vodkas) are killer, and there is no beating the view out the north-facing windows of Main Beach. Why? Because you're on the damn beach! Hotel Laguna smells of early California (so that's what it is!), and the setting—crashing waves, rocky coastline, Daddy's Mercedes zooming by—reinforces the oft-held notion that this is the Golden State version of the Riviera. Think of Hotel Laguna as a mini Del Coronado with more, ahem, colorful guests. Rates for the 65 rooms—which run from $150 per night for a village view to $350 for a mini-suite with an ocean or garden view—are pricey but more than reasonable when compared with the more upscale resorts down coast that draw the AIG businessmen and your bail-out dollars. If you can't afford the ocean views, or those rooms are all booked, go for the Rose Garden view, which will immediately put you in the mood to relax. Wherever you drop your bags, this is the perfect place for a quick romantic rendezvous, and if you enjoy a few cocktails from a bar that must pour the stiffest drinks on the coast, you'll appreciate knowing the comfy landing spot for your passed-out carcass is a mere elevator ride and a few creaky steps away. (Take that, CHP!) You'll awake to a complimentary breakfast (or at least you will if you get up by 10 a.m.) and free Register at your doorstep (unless its Sunday, in which case you must order it from the front desk for $1.25). Umbrellas, beach towels, chaise lounges and a wait staff await you on the beach, where food or a little hair of the dog that bit you can be delivered to your towel. Or pony up for a massage. You'll never want to leave.