The best hotels in Laguna Beach

Just an hour south of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach has long been associated with the LGBTQ scene. Despite its location in conservative Orange County, the city has been an attractive vacation spot for gay men since the 1920s. Just a couple of years ago, the ‘bring the gay back’ campaign was launched to honour and celebrate the influence this influx has had on the Californian city. With such a storied history to its name, here Mr Hudson discusses Laguna Beach’s best gay-friendly hotels.

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Montage Laguna Beach is a resort hotel with a large ocean-facing terrace and pool area, and pristine airy rooms decorated with tranquil, neutral tones. The unbelievably spacious en suite bathrooms come complete with deep marble bathtubs and fluffy bathrobes, while the resort boasts three restaurants, a spa, boutique stores, and small art gallery. Monarch Beach Resort is located five miles away in the Dana Point area. Overlooking the mighty Pacific Ocean from its exclusive hillside position, the resort has an incredible seven on-site restaurants to choose from, alongside three swimming pools, a championship golf course, and private beach access. The spacious rooms include a balcony or private terrace on which to enjoy the fine California weather, and bathrooms fit for Hollywood A-listers.

Photo: Deon Fosu

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The 500-acre Resort at Pelican Hill infuses its suites and bungalows with an Italian Renaissance style

Pasea Hotel | Photo: D. Barrett

The 500-acre Resort at Pelican Hill infuses its suites and bungalows with an Italian Renaissance style which only adds to the beauty of the ocean-side grounds. Fifteen minutes’ drive from Newport Center, if guests ever opt to leave the luxury of their rooms, the resort includes the round ‘Colosseum’ pool and Pelican Hill golf course. There are also five restaurants, serving everything from the juiciest steaks to traditional Northern Italian cuisine. Although much smaller at only 15 acres, Balboa Bay Resort isn’t lacking in facilities either. Overlooking the bay from which it takes its name, in the Newport Beach area of Laguna Beach, rooms come with refrigerators, and granite and marble bathrooms that are worthy of a spa. There are three on-site eateries, with those on Huntingdon Beach just ten minutes away. Immediately adjacent to Huntingdon Beach Pier, the Paséa Hotel & Spa resort offers its guests the full gambit of spa treatments, as well as a number of water sports. Ocean views come as standard, with the marine-themed rooms also including coffee machines and comfortable button back loungers in which to find total relaxation.

Pasea Hotel

Only two miles away from the quieter sands of 1000 Steps Beach, located – as you may have guessed – beneath sheer cliffs accessed via a series of stairs, boasts a distinct Spanish influence. Colourful majolica tiles adorn walls and floors, while bathrooms boast elegant Victorian-style rolltop baths. Other amenities include an outdoor pool, shady terraces, and spa and wellness centre. The 24-hour fitness centre is just one of the many guest facilities available at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. Surrounded by forested hills to one side, and with views towards the Pacific on the other, this 87-acre property has a stunning location in addition to an outdoor pool, nine-hole 32 par Ben Brown golf course, and beach volleyball court. A variety of water sports, in addition to whale and dolphin spotting tours, can also be enjoyed.

The Ranch

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The most exclusive Laguna Beach stay must be the four-star Villa Lanai, however. Comprising just one bedroom with an extra-large double bed, and a sofa-bed in the villa’s living area, this cosy beach-front stay is perfect for couples seeking a little privacy right at the heart of Laguna Beach. Requiring just a minute-long stroll to reach the beach, Seaside Laguna Inn & Suites is also less than a mile from the centre of downtown Laguna Beach. Rooms have a welcoming décor and ambience, and facilities include a refrigerator and coffee machine even in standard rooms. Suites also incorporate a fully-fitted kitchenette, and a balcony looking towards the Pacific. In a very similar locale, Capri Laguna on the Beach – Boutique Hotel offers a small outdoor pool open throughout the year, in addition to a furnished sun terrace overlooking the beach. When it comes to the rooms, standard doubles have a very useful kitchenette with fridge and microwave, while the higher-grade rooms also come with ocean views and balcony spaces, because – let’s face it – being in Laguna Beach is all about the ocean location.

Photo: Sean Pierce

Photo: Tyler Nix

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