Pasadena Travels: Finding Your Calm in Laguna

Laguna Surf Lodge is not the place for your sales conference or grad party
Published on Jun 9, 2024

Laguna Beach, one of Southern California’s most exclusive (and posh) beaches, began as a collection of surf shacks for the artist community, and motor inns along Pacific Coast Highway, for a burgeoning SoCal car culture. While there are few remaining surf shacks or traditional motor inns along PCH in Laguna Beach, the Laguna Surf Lodge newly reflects that spirit, in 2024. 

Built in 1948 as the Laguna Riviera Hotel (The Laguna Beach City Council hasn’t quite gotten around to approving new signage) the Laguna Surf Lodge, just opened this spring,  underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation by Kelly Ogden of ELK Collective, and AC Atherton of Summit Seven D Architecture with a modern hippie surf vibe,  incorporating natural wood and woven rattan and textiles, in whitewashed tones.  

The property is one of two the company owns in Laguna Beach, just footsteps from each other. 

While construction was still being finished up when we visited in April, the mood was obvious. This is not where you go for your sales conference or your training session. 

This is where you come to leave all of that. 

There are 41 guest rooms and suites at the Laguna Surf Lodge, and I think we got at least the second best one. Our oceanfront suite offered its own secluded location (marked with a discreet chain) and a covered patio and wind break, looking straight out at a horizon filled with nothing but ocean.

Our room—which was decorated with a custom bed frame from MasayaCo, reclaimed wood tables from Coyote Custom Woodworks, and artwork from local artist Sunday Arvo Surf Club—was filled with the sound of that ocean, with no huge TV, (a refreshing change), but just enough USB chargers to honor your inner Digital Nomad.

The rooms are what SCP likes to call “Peaceful Rooms, designed to enhance relaxation and create a stress-free sleep environment by eliminating electronics and reducing blue light.”

All are furnished with zero-waste certified Avocado Mattresses and amenities like oil diffusers, air filters, sound machines, meditation pillows, yoga mats, and a curated selection of books.

And it’s more than that. 

As Laila, the manager on duty explained during a property tour, “Soul, community, planet. That’s the idea. As an organization, it’s all about sustainability for the environment, minimizing waste and contributing to your local community and giving back. There’s a variety of ways we keep that promise with the organizations that we partner with, whether that be One Tree Planted or the Miracles for Kids Foundation, and the Mely Youth Foundation. 

SCP’s “Every Stay Does Good Program” means global good works from Hawaii to Costa Rica, and there are little touches throughout the property like all-day free fresh coffee in a collection of ceramic mugs, with no plastic cups or spoons to be found anywhere. 

The beach is accessible by way of a dedicated walkway where you’ll find complimentary use of the hotel’s chairs, umbrellas and towels. 

Though the Laguna coastline is speckled with multi-million dollar homes, these beaches are deliberately accessible to all. On my Sunday beach walk, I saw families from all over Orange County, too many dog walkers, and happy kids taking their first dips into the Pacific. I laughed with a teenage couple smiling in tux and gown in ankle deep water, as they posed for their senior prom photos. 

But what you will mostly find at Laguna Surf Lodge is calm. Close the doors, draw the blinds, and even the whoosh of the ocean will fade away. Or it won’t. And you’ll be happy either way. 

The 411:

Laguna Surf Lodge, 825 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. (949) 494-1196.

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