Laguna Beach is one of those landscapes so lavish in topographic gifts, grounds gilded in glorious views and air scented with sea salt, it’s where Southern California can’t help but get a little braggy. A killer coastline dotted with cafés and boutiques, where the sun likes to hang year-round, it warrants a refuge worthy of its geography.
Floored in Spanish stonework and paned in white wood, Hotel Joaquin came to answer the call. A pop of orange palm lets you know you’ve arrived; honey beams and bodacious views will carry you from there. Designed with true unwind in mind, this petite enclave perpetuates a feel both removed and relaxed. Retro with its record players and vinyl collections, decadent with its poolside double daybeds, a canvas of clarity invites you to unplug in all ways possible.
And they’re serious about that unplug. Not a phone or TV to be found. If that scares you, you’ll likely benefit from being here more than you realize.
The rooms capitalize on coastal views and clean accents, where we’re summoned to luxuriate in Le Labo and delight in the crackle of the record player. Individually furnished, each feature a fix of whimsy, hints of vintage, dotted in design unmistakably cool, they echo the soul is our style spirit of the Auric Road brand. (Have you not been to Korakia Pensione, in the desert? It’s theirs too. Go). Don’t look for TV’s or phones. They’re not there.
Outside, the café lights dangle, and the swimming pool glistens and for maybe just a minute, you forget there’s city right outside.
With only 22 suites, each gets a little personalization. My room’s name was Perche, and from beneath the vaulted ceiling, I could see out to an island (San Clemente, I later learned). And if I took a deep inhale, as the ambience more than encourages, I could take in the herb garden blossoming below. And in the bathroom, there seemed to be a spa. At least that’s what the open concept shower/tub situation felt like. With a massive oversized sink that was as much art as it was washbasin. With all the Le Labo I could lavish.
And as guests of the hotel, so many extras are tossed in it’s hard not get a little giddy. An all access pass to Adventure Post, where outdoor gear from boogie boards to bikes to kayaks are all yours for the exploring. Beach lounge service at Shaw’s Cove, a stunning stretch of beach, just a staircase down from the hotel. The pool. And breakfast. A gorgeous breakfast. All complements of the house.
Moment for the food. Saline. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I do not exaggerate when I say it is something extraordinary. For my Orange County contingency, I asked if non-hotel guests could pop by for a meal, sadly, they cannot. Exclusive to the hotel, this sea driven cuisine is a marvel in Mediterranean gastronomy. The crab gnocchi I had for dinner, served bubbling in a tureen (beautiful), with the aged cheddar, gouda, macadamia, and broccolini flower, sincerely, I need to know when I’ll be eating this again. That good. And breakfast, breakfast included in your stay, is a breakfast I’d drive a very long distance for. I really would. That egg white frittata with the kale, soft feta, ricotta and chervil greens? Unbelievable. And the rawnola with the blue majik almond milk and fresh berries? You’ll see.
I would also like to point out that while the ambiance at large leans heavily on couples (all beds are king beds), I took this trip solo. I can personally attest, as a sojourn, party of one, it is a destination to recommend. The lobby feels more like a living room, the dining room feels more like a sun porch over the sea. Company kept or otherwise, this is an escape to revel in.
Designed as a retreat for the traveller who reveres life in luscious detail, this Laguna refuge is robust in one resplendent feature after another. Every staff member seemed to have an informal finesse that hit just the right hospitable tone. The welcome beverage, the morning coffee or tea delivery, the pistachio blankets draped over the chairs in case of those Pacific breezes. Everything is just a little extra in its glisten. If it’s a seaside sanctuary you seek, or a getaway that grants a glow before you go, you will very much enjoy your stay here. Leaving is another story.
Hotel Joaquin, 985 North Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA.
Tel: +1(949) 494-5294
The hotel is located on the sea-facing side of Highway 1. Take the 405 South to the 133 towards Laguna Beach, to PCH. Free Valet Parking is available at the hotel. The closest train station is San Juan Capistrano, a 20-minute drive away. Trains run from Los Angeles’ Union Station. John Wayne Airport in Orange County is only 12 miles away.
Type of Hotel: Boutique Seaside Resort in Laguna Beach
Number of Rooms: 22 suites, including complimentary Wi-Fi.
Price Band: Medium to high
Insider Tip: Eat many meals here. And bring your cell phone. All communication is done via text. And in the spirit of unplugging, suites are television and phone free. Maximum of 2 guests per room, no guests under 18 allowed.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.
Photographs courtesy of Hotel Joaquin, taken by Roger Davies