Laguna Beach's Best New Getaway: Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa
Fresh, Historic Hotel Style in Laguna Beach
Stop the Southern California presses: Where one stays in Laguna Beach may now finally be as memorable as that one stays in Laguna Beach. It's true. From its early days as an art colony, Laguna's natural beauty has often outshone the hotels that dot the town's seven miles of tawny, hillside-guarded coves. And while high-profile resorts like the Montage have earned their moments in the sun, it's only recently that small hotels of high style have emerged along the streets of Laguna itself. The leader of that hotel pack is Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa. A popular hotel for decades, Casa Laguna is a Mediterranean-inspired cluster of 23 guest suites perched right above Pacific Coast Highway.
Historic Laguna Beach Informs the Outdoors
Recognized in the year 2000 as a Registered Historic Structure by the city of Laguna Beach, Casa Laguna in its new iteration has turned with deference and style to its historic roots. And for travelers who have been lucky enough to spend time in Laguna Beach over the years, the hotel's outdoor spaces, which contain a small and beautiful pool along with dining areas, will be an elixir of nostalgia.
Shown here: It does not, frankly, get more Laguna Beach than this little set of tile-lined stairs at Casa Laguna.
Design Magic from Martyn Lawrence Bullard
Casa Laguna has leapt into the design VIP lounge thanks to new ownership and to the buoyantly sophisticated vision of Los Angeles-based designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. The result: a hideaway-style hotel stripped back to historically appropriate, Spanish Colonial white walls and red tile roofs, encased by lush landscaping and infused with a sensibility revived directly from California's exotically informed 1920s. The magic moves from exteriors into interiors, beginning with the hotel's alluring public spaces.
Shown here: Casa Laguna's lobby, featuring tiled fireplace and Moorish design touches
Moroccan Design Influences
Echoing California's 1920s obsession with Orientalism (and in a nod to Laguna Beach's blossoming status at the time as a getaway for movie stars, plein aire painters, and other assorted bohemians), Bullard has summoned Moroccan influences as the soul-defining statement of Casa Laguna, including graphic ceramic tiles that brighten patios, wrap fireplaces, line baths, and create vibrant wainscoting. Midcentury California pottery, including Catalina tiles, and Bullard's own ceiling treatments and fabrics (many in oceanic blues) bring the illusion into perfect focus.
Shown here: Bullard's fabrics and assured use of blue in one of Casa Laguna's guest rooms
Bungalow and Exotic Style Meet in the Bath
A deep charm of Bullard's design vision for Casa Laguna is his understanding of Laguna Beach's twinned design vernaculars—both bungalow beach-cottage style and deep roots in Moorish influences. The two motifs play in sunlit balance here in a bathroom in the hotel's Bungalow Suite, a 600-square-foot enclave-within-the-enclave, where bold tiles with Morrocan-inspired patterns take over the floors, while whitewashed walls and open shelves take one to the barefoot pleasures of cottage life on the beach.
Shown here: Bath in Casa Laguna's Bungalow Suite
A True Hideaway
Casa Laguna contains its sybaritic magic—including a spa and a house restaurant that serves small plates on its intimate patio—behind its demure exteriors on Laguna Beach's famed Pacific Coast Highway: the hallmark of a true hideaway. Just on the other side of PCH, a short but steep walk leads to a hidden Pacific cove, which just heightens the sense of intoxicating escape. It only takes one trip to Laguna Beach to appreciate its magic; a night (or more) here may capture you for life. Rates start at $249;casalaguna.com;or 800-233-0449.