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Montage Laguna Beach, California

By:
Guest Writer: Melanie Hearse
 

Where Is It:  Set on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Laguna Beach, Southern California.

Why Go: It’s a full service resort with beach-luxe accommodations, direct beach access, a world class swimming pool and spa, and fine dining.

Best For: Couples seeking a relaxed-yet-elegant romantic getaway.

Three Things We Loved: The breathtaking view over the pool and ocean from the main lobby, the view of the pool and ocean from our spacious private balcony and enjoy Californian cuisine by the pool.

The Ultimate Factor: You’ve never experienced a lobby like it.

Overview:

Being a born and bred West Australian, I have a long standing love affair with the beach lifestyle; there’s nothing more relaxing and decadent than waking up, reading a book, sipping a champagne, or falling asleep to the waves crashing on the shore. So when we were looking at must-stay places on the Californian leg of our US trip, Laguna Beach was top of the list. We were seeking a seaside town offering relaxation and a little luxury, also for a romantic getaway, with Laguna Beach known for its artsy vibe and fantastic food, two further shared passions.

We arrived and instantly fell in love with the town; our noses were pressed against the car windows as we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway, past a number of art galleries, boutiques and packed restaurants. The Montage Laguna Beach is located towards the top end of the main drag, so we got to drive past everything on the way in, though it's a quick ride into the thick of the action, and you can make the most of the free trolley service leaving directly from the road outside our hotel into town every 20 minutes.

As we drove up the impressive driveway to the hotel entry, we were instantly greeted by friendly staff and ushered inside. To say the lobby area is majestic is a massive understatement. What is a ground level entry into the hotel from the driveway entrance becomes a fifth floor ballroom sized lounge, overlooking the spectacular mosaic pool and grounds with the ocean peeking out beyond.  The lobby has a feel of barely understated luxury; well stuffed couches dotted liberally throughout, a bar at one end and a library at the other. By one window, there’s a piano that tinkles out softly played classics throughout most of the day and jazzes up in the evenings. This is all framed by open shutters leading out to a massive balcony; the hotel is built into the cliff face, meaning the impeccably-manicured, 30 acres of tropical gardens, pool and ocean beyond are all spread before you as far as the eye can see. 

The Accommodation:

The resort offers 248 craftsman-style rooms, including 60 suites, all featuring ocean views. The rooms offer marble bathrooms with deep soak tubs, 100 per cent Fila Casa Egyptian Combed Cotton towels and bathrobes, feather top beds with Egyptian linens and a private patio or balcony. The rooms range from the ocean horizon, coastal or surf rooms (with self explanatory views), to the suites with the same name; as well as the Bungalow, Aliso, Sunset, Founder’s or the Catalina suites, and an additional four Private Villas.  

Where We Stayed:

Our home for two nights was an ocean horizons room, a 500 square foot space with a view of the lush gardens, and partial views of the ocean as it touches the horizon - very romantic. As you walk into the entryway, there is a drinks cabinet housing a fridge stocked with premium wines, beer and soft drinks, and a coffee machine with premium teas and coffees. To the left is a luxurious marble bathroom with deep soak tub, double sinks, separate shower and separate toilet and striped yellow and white walls to add to the beach luxe feel. The room features a bank of white shuttered cupboards providing ample storage, a King sized feather topped bed with Egyptian linens and a wooden desk. The rooms also included a large wall mounted flat screen and music system, which is tuned to play gentle music during turndown, and a comfortable but elegant stuffed chair and ottoman by the balcony doors. 

Floor to ceiling glass sliding doors lead the way to the private balcony area, with easily enough space for four people to sit at the wicker chairs and table set outdoors; two chairs were set for our booking, but there is ample room to seat more. The view was a highlight of our stay; sitting back and taking in the laid back luxury of the lush pool and grounds with a glass of cold champagne dusted off the earlier drive up the coast in understated and elegant style.

What Else Is There:

There are three key dining options at the resort besides room service aside, which is a tempting proposition when you consider the views for the balconies!. The Studio is a Modern French restaurant set into the bluff overlooking the best of the views offered by the resort, a craftsman-inspired restaurant is reminiscent of an elegant yet charming beach cottage, with a view through expansive doors and windows. Chef Craig Strong makes use of produce sourced from local organic farmers, and to complement the cuisine of Studio, talented sommeliers have carefully assembled an artful collection of more than 2,500 boutique and esoteric selections. 

The Loft is the resort’s all-day dining restaurant, situated on the fourth floor, featuring stunning panoramic views and some outdoor seating, offering American cuisine. Guests can also enjoy poolside dining at Mosaic Bar and Grille, located near the Mosaic Pool, which offers a range of California-inspired beach fare with choices of salads, grilled sandwiches or fresh daily seafood, along with healthy choices from the spa menu.

Spa Montage is the resort’s 20,000 square foot indoor/outdoor oceanfront spa that provides ocean-themed therapies. It boasts eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state of the art fitness center, movement studio and lap pool  with  stunning views of the Pacific. 

The Verdict:

As gorgeous as the general Laguna Beach township is, you could easily wile away a week at the Montage resort without once feeling bored or restless. From the easily accessible beach, to the evening piano playing in the main lobby, afternoons spent in the mosaic pool, and evenings in the nearby hot tub, the vast property offers the perfect blend of plenty to do for a romantic getaway, and the kind of relaxing, elegant environment that enables those that need it, to switch off and do very little. Being surrounded by world class art galleries, boutiques and eateries in the Laguna area is really just a bonus!

Montage Laguna Beach is located at 30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA, www.montagehotels.com/lagunabeach, 0011 949 715 6000.

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