It’s no wonder Huntington Beach, California, is nicknamed Surf City. With nearly 10 miles (16km) of golden beaches, and the rocky Santa Catalina Island enhancing the natural swells, this is one of the best places in SoCal to catch a wave. Its year-round popularity means there’s a wide selection of places to stay. So whether you want a homey studio or a luxe hotel, we’ve got a place for you.
While the surf is undoubtedly the headline attraction in Huntington Beach, don’t neglect the city’s other diversions, from the native wildflowers of Mile Square Regional Park to the rare birds of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. At day’s end, relax in one of the many beachfront bars and restaurants, sipping sunset cocktails or feasting on fresh seafood, then retire to one of these fantastic hotels.
As the name suggests, Kimpton Shorebreak has surfing at its heart: a boho-chic oceanfront resort where the rooms match what you see outside your window, with a maritime color scheme, wave-patterned carpets and headboards striped like deckchairs. As a guest, you’ll enjoy access to the resort’s beach cruiser bikes, surf guides and lockers. In the evenings, there are even fireside s’mores – the perfect way to warm up after a day in the surf.
Other than sleeping on the sand, Paséa’s Oceanfront Suites are as close as you can get to Huntington Beach’s famous surf – ocean views flood in from two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows, with a color palette that reflects the sun, sea and sand. There’s even a hand-painted acoustic guitar in the room, so you can channel your inner Beach Boy. And after a day on the waves, the Aarna Spa offers a range of rejuvenating treatments for those tired muscles.
For a supremely comfortable four-star stay just a few minutes’ walk from Disneyland, look no further than the Sheraton Anaheim. Kids will love the breakfasts, burgers and other treats at the American restaurant Savor at 1855, while adults can enjoy a well-earned drink at the SIP Lobby Bar after a day of theme park fun. The Splash Pool Bar, meanwhile, is perfect for cooling off on a hot Cali afternoon.
The upscale neighborhood of Fountain Valley shows there’s more to Orange County than sand and surf, and the classy Ayres Hotel fits in perfectly with its surroundings. The spacious lobby, with its elegantly faded oriental rugs and marble fireplace, sets the tone for a graceful aesthetic that extends to the rooms. While the beach is always one of the main draws at Huntington, don’t miss the lakes and native Californian plants of the nearby Mile Square Regional Park.
Just steps from the beach, you can virtually roll out of your comfortable, motel-style room and into the surf – and at the other end of the day, you’ll see why they call this stretch of sand Sunset Beach, as you watch the sun go down in spectacular fashion while enjoying a drink in one of several laid-back bars. Beach chairs and beach toys come as standard for guests.
If you get bored of the beach – or those sunburned shoulders need a break from the sun – the large indoor pool at Hotel Huntington Beach is a great place to work out. The nightly happy hour will tempt you into the darkly stylish Bar Rouge, while the cobblestone streets of Old World Village, just next door, harbor German delis and Oktoberfest-themed bars.
With balconies overlooking Huntington Beach – or, in the top suites, patios with private fire pits – the Hyatt Regency can’t be beat for location. If you’re planning on being out for the day, perhaps enjoying the surf or birdwatching up the coast at Seal Beach, then pick up fresh produce for a packed lunch at the on-site Surf City Grocers. Don’t miss the acclaimed Watertable restaurant, though – try the Chilean sea bass with rainbow cauliflower and chive mashed potatoes.
Embodying the chilled-out charm of a retro surf motel, with only the iconic Highway One separating it from the Pacific Ocean, Huntington Surf Inn is a place for those with salt in their veins. The rooms clearly got the memo, with vintage surfboards on the walls and tiki-themed bed frames – each is unique, with some also celebrating other icons of Americana (think surfing astronauts).
This stylish studio apartment sits seconds from the beach and is the perfect base for exploring Surf City’s famous sand and sights. Huntington Beach Pier is a stone’s throw away – if you’re more a spectator than participant when it comes to surfing, this is the place to get some of the best views – while ocean-fresh seafood is the order of the day at famous Duke’s, named for the legendary Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku who introduced surfing to the United States.