By J.C. Lewis
On a sunny weekend, Huntington Beach really does look like the promotional materials for “Surf City, USA®” (its trademarked moniker, to the chagrin of rival Santa Cruz), complete with tanned surfers, pretty people enjoying the surroundings and plenty of places to pick up a new pair of cheap sunglasses. But you don’t need to be a surfer to enjoy this fabulous Southern California city’s delights, which are within easy weekend get away distance from anywhere in Los Angeles.
Among the plentiful accommodation options in Huntington Beach, the Shorebreak Hotel, which opened its doors in 2009, stands out for its unmatched location and thoughtful, thorough incorporation of the Surf City, USA® Brand. The 157-room property is owned by the San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre group, which has the largest collection of boutique hotels in California. Its location, where PCH meets the pier, is ideal – you can see the beach and ocean from the hotel, just steps beyond its awnings of sunshine-yellow sails and over the row of palms that lines “The Strand.” If you request a partial ocean view or waterfront view room, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars to watch the goings-on along the beach and pier from your own private patio or balcony.
During my recent weekend stay, I enjoyed the free entertainment of a surf contest (a scene I imagine is a regular one), followed in the evening by a display of pelicans scooping their meals from the waves. Shorebreak Hotel’s design inspiration — Huntington Beach’s surf heritage and culture — is a no-brainer of a source, but it is rendered in a way that combines equal parts class and coolness. The door of every guest room is marked by a box frame containing a bed of sand partially immersing a beach-themed photograph; the in-room guide is a portfolio of stunning surf photography; and a bright chalk board in the lobby displays the anticipated ocean conditions for the day. The in-house art gallery offers changing exhibits, and art installations throughout the hotel include a wall hanging composed of deconstructed wet suits and whimsical signageart. The guest rooms continue the combination of the upscale with the fun, boasting fine Frette linens, flat-screen televisions, iPod docks and sleek, modern furnishings alongside bright, botanical print and plaid textiles.
It’s modern and funky without any sacrifice of comfort. Pets are welcome at the Shorebreak, and there’s something endearing about seeing dogs enjoying their weekend away from home. Front desk staff will happily provide directions to the local dog beach. The Shorebreak Hotel very cleverly offers a complimentary wine hour every evening to appeal to the niche market of people who like to drink free wine. Ok, so that’s not a niche market, and the wine hour during my stay proved popular, for good reason. “The Deck,” a landscaped central courtyard area furnished with oversized seating, boardwalks and several fire pits, is an excellent venue for sampling local reds and whites, sitting back and just being happy to be on a vacation, no matter how brief. Shorebreak Hotel, 500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, CA 92648. (714) 861- 4475, www.shorebreakhotel.com.