Made famous by celebrities and loved for its beach towns and luxury yachts, Orange County has come to define the Southern California lifestyle. This is a place to try surfing for the first time, shop ‘til you drop, and splurge a little to enjoy the luxuries of the rich and famous. But to truly enjoy the OC’s beautiful weather, excellent restaurants, and arts community, you’ll need a great place to stay and come home to each night. Here are our top picks for hotels in Orange County, California.
Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa (Prices & Photos)
This top-notch OC resort is located on top of a dramatic bluff overlooking the Pacific and embodies the true Southern California spirit. Stay here when you plan to visit the Dana Point area. There are 378 accommodations here that come with flat-screen TVs, in-room movie channels, work desks, and oceanfront balconies and terraces. The onsite Vue Restaurant specializes in dishes like Italian meatloaf, linguini pomodoro, and freshly caught seafood. Meanwhile, the Overvue Lounge is a beautiful space with water features, a fire pit, heat lamps, and great sunset views. There’s a 14,000-square-foot spa here, onsite bike and surfboard rentals, walking and jogging trails, ping pong, two outdoor heated pools and whirlpools, and a children’s splash zone. Pets are not allowed at this resort.
Surf & Sand Resort (Prices & Photos)
As the name suggests, this resort is located right on the ocean in Laguna Beach. Here you’ll find 167 beachfront guest rooms, including 13 suites, and all of them have awesome ocean views. If you’re celebrating something special, consider booking one of the three penthouses for a true VIP experience. The Aquaterra Spa has eight treatment room, including mani/pedi facilities and an ocean view couples’ room. Splashes is the onsite restaurant that’s great to dine at for breakfast, lunch, or dinner while you watch the waves roll in. Meanwhile, the Splashes Bar offers a casual spot for light fare and cocktails, 15FiftyFive is a nice nightlife spot, and Pacific Perk is your go-to spot for morning coffee.
Blue Lantern Inn (Prices & Photos)
Another highly recommended place in Dana Point to stay is the Blue Lantern Inn, which is a boutique hotel that has all of the standard features and amenities of a bed & breakfast. It’s located on a bluff above the Dana Point Yacht Harbor and by Cannon’s Restaurant, which occasionally hosts events with music. There are just 29 guestrooms here, and each of them has a fireplace, sitting area, large bathroom with jetted spa tub, and king or queen bed. Some rooms have private balconies or patios with views of the water. Your stay here includes a signature breakfast for two, wine and hors d’oeuvres in the afternoon, fresh cookies and hot beverages, bikes to borrow, fitness center access, and Wi-Fi. While you’re here, you can also book a massage or reflexology treatment at the onsite spa.
The Resort at Pelican Hill (Prices & Photos)
This Newport Beach resort is perched atop the California coastline and about 15 minutes from Orange County’s John Wayne Airport. You’re also just 45 minutes from the Los Angeles airport when you stay here. It’s fun to stay in one of the bungalows here, with their cozy fireplaces and private furnished terraces. You can also stay in a villa tucked away in a gated enclave for longer stays or just for a little extra privacy. Golf enthusiasts can play 36 championship holes on the course, and there’s a five-star spa with 22 treatment rooms here as well. The resort will also transport you to Crystal Cove via shuttle and supply you with a complimentary beach bag, plush towels, beach chairs, and umbrellas. The six restaurants offer al fresco dining and heated ocean-view terraces for meals. Another highlight of this resort is the Coliseum Pool, with its poolside cabanas and food and beverage service. For parents traveling with kids, there’s Camp Pelican for children ages 4-12 with fun activities and programs. There’s also a teen program that offers lessons and excursions for surfing, hiking, biking, and kayaking.
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Ritz Carlton is also a good name to know when you’re visiting the OC. This is a great place to stay to experience Laguna Beach, soak in ocean views, and take family-friendly eco-adventures. Most of the rooms here have breathtaking ocean views from private balconies and patios, and ocean view rooms with outdoor fire pits are located on the first floor. This is a pet-friendly hotel with a $50 per night pet fee. There’s a spa onsite with 12 treatment rooms, an oceanfront fitness center, wellness classes, two tennis courts, two outdoor swimming pools, two outdoor whirlpools, and two restaurants onsite. Raya serves Pan-Latin coastal cuisine, enoSTEAK serves prime beef and local produce, and 180blũ offers cocktails and small plates. Your stay here requires a $40 resort fee that includes various amenities and services.
Montage Laguna Beach (Prices & Photos)
Montage Laguna Beach offers various room and suite options that fit with the resort’s Arts & Crafts heritage. Montage also offers custom ocean estates with private entrances, beach access, and awesome ocean views. Dining options include The Loft and poolside fare at Mosaic Bar and Grille. There’s a spa here to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul while on an Orange County vacation, and plenty of recreation to keep you entertained. Popular guest activities include stand-up paddleboarding, jet ski rentals, snorkel rentals, sailing, kayak tours, and golf.
Ayres Hotel & Suites in Costa Mesa (Prices & Photos)
Here’s a boutique hotel in Costa Mesa that puts you right in the heart of Orange County and near Newport Beach. The Le Chateau Garden Bistro is the onsite restaurant that’s famous for its Monte Cristo sandwich, and the hotel also offers a spa, fitness center, and heated pools. Conveniently, Ayres is only a half mile from John Wayne Airport and a few miles from Newport Beach, Disneyland Resort, and a couple local golf clubs.
Monarch Beach Resort (Prices & Photos)
This AAA Five-Diamond luxury resort is a great introduction to the serene coastal lifestyle of Southern California. The rooms are decorated with coastal palettes and private balconies, and the AVEO Table + Bar serves up delicious Mediterranean-inspired flavors. Miraval “Life in Balance” Spa offers massage, yoga, and Pilates, and there’s an 18-hole course for travelers who like to play golf.