The story of Laguna Riviera dates back to 1914, when only a few homes and stores dotted the hillsides of Laguna Beach. It was then that a family, The Williats, from Los Angeles fell in love with this beachside community and decided to build a home. Then in 1938, when visiting Laguna Beach they decided to make a permanent move and bought the Brickles Farm House, which was the future site of Laguna Riviera. In the ‘50s and ‘60s Laguna Riviera took shape to what guests now know and love. The mid-century architecture that is reminiscent of a cruise ship came out of the Williat’s love for travel. They chose to build the hotel that way, so when one stands out on one of the terraced decks pointing out toward the ocean, you are able to gaze out at a spectacular unobstructed view.
As Laguna Beach became popular with the Hollywood crowd in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, many celebrities began frequenting Laguna Riviera. One of their most noted guests was Hanna Barbara. The current owner and grandson of original owners, Kort Pearson, remembers Hanna doing Yogi Bear impersonations while visiting to entertain the guests. Author Pearl S. Buck wrote several of her novels from the deck off of room 508. President Richard Nixon was also a frequent guest of the hotel before and after he became president.
The sense that I got when visiting Laguna Riviera was that the guests who return year after year to the hotel are the ones that the owners truly cherish. “People became my friends when we were kids because they came here with their parents year after year. They came here for 10-15 years and then we all went away to college. Then 10 years later they began showing up with their kids. Literally people have been coming here for 50 years,” says Kort Pearson. In fact, families become attached to certain rooms and book their reservations a year in advance to ensure they get the same room year after year. That’s the kind of special place Laguna Riviera holds in the hearts of its many guests.
Laguna Riviera has just over 40 rooms, many with ocean views, private decks and kitchens. As a guest you receive complimentary continental breakfast, free WiFi and HBO. You also have direct access to the beach with complimentary chairs, towels and umbrellas.
If you have a larger party and are looking for a more intimate and private stay, you can rent the Beach Bungalow. This is a free standing 1,500 sq. ft. house built in 1932 that still retains much of its original charm (original handcrafted front door, fire places and a custom built-in china hutch) with all the modern conveniences you would expect. You have panoramic views of the ocean from the living room, and a private deck from which you can feel the spray of the waves crashing below you.
With its rich history, Laguna Riviera is a place that you grow nostalgic for and yearn to return to. It is the instilled memories of long summer days and the sound of crashing waves lulling you to sleep that keep bringing people back to Laguna Riviera year after year.
825 South Coast Highway
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By Anne-Marie S.