Regrettably, my arrival at typically sunny Laguna Beach in the last weekend of January brought rain (from light drizzles to periodic downpours) with it. Here for a board meeting, I used the opportunity to drop in for two nights at the Montage, where I had visited several years ago but did not have opportunity to stay. Then, I was struck by the dramatic views along with its trademark starburst pool and vowed I would come back and experience the hotel as a guest. So here I was.

montage

Montage Laguna Beach, an attractive shingled crafts-style resort located on 30 oceanfront acres, has consistently been ranked as one of the best resorts in the U.S. since it opened in 2003. Perched on a dramatic 50-foot bluff over the Pacific Ocean, the scenery is simply stunning.

The 250 rooms at the hotel come in the form of bungalows, suites, and residences in addition to regular guest rooms, all which provide ocean views. Gratefully, I was upgraded to an Ocean Surf King Bungalow which is located right on the cliffs, a brief walk down towards the ocean and outside from the main lodge. My bungalow was beyond spacious for one person and could have comfortably accommodated a family of four.  As the others in this category, my suite came with a sitting room with gas fireplace, and separate bedroom – both of which have floor to ceiling french doors and terraces to take in the direct views of the ocean and coastline. A massive walk-in closet and a generously sized marble bathroom topped it all off.  I was in heaven!

After my flight, I changed into the Montage plush bathrobe (the softest!), turned on the fire and sank into the divine feather-top bed (with goose down pillows and 400-thread count sheets!!), reveling in the peace and quiet. As much as I would have been content lounging in my room, I was drawn to the activity in the main lodge, where most guests gather in the evening. At The Loft, one of the hotel’s restaurants which serves food all day, I experienced one of the best chargrilled burgers I’ve ever had. As the hotel was fully booked that weekend, the expansive lounge in the lobby was bustling both nights with an excellent piano player and singer. Just glancing around me, It was evident that the hotel lures all varieties of guests – from several mini-groups of ladies enjoying their girls-only weekend and conference attendees to couples and families. Everyone was in good spirits and thrilled just to be there, despite the uncooperative weather outside.

mlb-lobby

Along the walk from the lodge to my bungalow (the lobby is located on the 4th floor so everything is a few floors below) after dinner, guests were braving the light drizzle and winds to enjoy the bonfire, hot P1300701tubs, and walking paths alongside and down to the ocean (there is a long stairway to beach). Taking the same path in the P1300696morning back to the hotel on my way to meetings, I enviably watched some guests participating in a boot camp class on the lawn while others wearing robes were on their way to the spa.

I put these and other activities (like whale and seal watching, which I overheard one guest say they saw a pod of whales from their room the prior day. A colleague told me rescued seals from the nearby Pacific Marine Mammal Center are often brought over for the guests to meet) all on a growing mental check list for the next time I return. I could only imagine how glorious the resort is on a sunny day. Looking at the Fitness Calendar in my room, there are several different complimentary activities offered each morning from Thalassic Beach Walks and Beach Boot Camps to SurfSET – which is exercise classes on a surfboard but on the ground. Very California.

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I was able to sneak in a wonderful 60-minute facial at the spa an hour before I departed the hotel. The 20,000 square foot spa is impressive by any means with its own lap and plunge pools, yoga studio, fitness center, outdoor relaxation area and relaxation rooms with fireplaces. I could have easily spent an entire day here (not to mention hanging at one of the three pools or beach) but Los Angeles was beckoning me.  If it was sunny, I don’t think I would have had the strength to leave.

As only one of two people with the courage to sit outside on the terrace at The Loft for breakfast, I braved the chilly weather (heat lamps helped) with some friendly seagulls as P1300693companions for an exceptional breakfast consisting of morning detox juice and a delicious egg white omelet joined by the hotel’s signature homemade banana bread (I found the recipe here – trust me, it’s crazy good).

I wish I had the time to check out the other restaurants – Studio (housed in a small building on the edge of the cliff) and Mosaic Bar and Grille by the pool – both of which I am told are excellent. All of my meals at The Loft during my brief stay were exceptional and the staff was friendly and extremely attentive.

My brief two nights at Montage was a tease, really. I had no time to dip in the magnificent centerpiece mosaic-tiled pool (other to gaze longingly at it) or the other two pools on the property, walk the beaches or look for whales, take advantage of any of the multitude of classes or spa amenities, jump in the hot tub (always full) or toast a marshmallow at the bonfire or even eat at the other two restaurants. But in the limited time I had, I loved everything (except maybe my bill :-)) about Montage Laguna Beach. I can’t wait to return with my husband and girls and experience everything I missed.

Loved Didn't Love

It was hard to find anything I didn’t love. Most impressive was:

  • The service was some of the best I’ve experienced. Attentive, friendly and warm.
  • My bungalow with its incredible views and possibly one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in.
  • The setting.
  • The food, especially breakfast – everything on the menu looked delicious.
  • The diverse range of activities (most complimentary) and offerings at the resort, both inside and outside.
  • The spa.
  • All of this luxuriousness comes at hefty prices but is worth it. (Note: spa services start at $300).
  • I wish there was some orientation to the resort and room amenities when I checked in.
Don't Miss Skip
  • The signature complimentary freshly-baked banana bread at breakfast. Divine!
  • The spa. Even if you don’t have time for a treatment, go for the sauna, steam room, hydrotherapy pools or more.
  • Take advantage of many complimentary daily activities offered such as yoga, pilates, beach walks and outdoor exercise classes.
  • Nothing comes to mind!
Rooms to Get Tips
  • I didn’t have time to inspect other accommodation categories but my Ocean Bungalow (#7243) was incredible. A short walk from the hotel, these suites are closest to the ocean, offer privacy and are very spacious at 1,000 square feet. They can comfortably sleep a family of four.
  • Uber is a very quick and inexpensive form of transportation in Laguna.

Montage Laguna Beach

30801 S. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach

For 2016, the Virtuoso Rate includes:

• Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
• $60 daily breakfast credit at The Loft or room service
• $100 USD Spa Services credit during stay
• Roundtrip private transfer to South Coast Plaza
• Late check-out subject to availability

Book This Hotel

Why book Virtuoso?

  • Personalized travel assistance
  • 24/7 online booking
  • Special rates & exclusive offers
  • Guaranteed Room upgrade*
  • Complimentary full American breakfast
  • Early check-in, Late check-out*
  • Exclusive on-site amenities (varies by hotel)
  • * based on availability on time of arrival

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