The historic mission-style building at the corner of Cress Street and the Coast Highway, known as Hotel La Casa Del Camino, is described as a Mediterranean-style boutique hotel. I found it to be a delightful haven with historic charm mixed with modern day amenities. The hotel quickly became a local favorite for the Hollywood elite when it opened in 1929, and was the second hotel to open in Laguna Beach. Some vestiges of its early 20th century beginnings remain, such as the original wood framed mirrors in the hallways, beams in the lobby, glass chandelier and room numbers above the guest room doors. The aforementioned modern amenities include air conditioning, free wifi, flat screen HD TVs, safes and mini fridges in every room.

Speaking of the rooms, all are unique and vary in size and price. Rates begin at $149 in the winter and $189 in summer, a bargain considering the primo beach location. We stayed in the Billabong Men’s Room, a very comfortable and inviting space bedecked with a three-dimensional art piece with images of surfers, palm trees, and the Billabong logo cut into reclaimed wood; striking painted surfboard with an image of the sun setting over the ocean; a reclaimed-tree coffee table; and most importantly, a full-on unobstructed view of the ocean. The Spanish rooms are quaint and take one back to the past with intricately hand-carved cabinets and headboards made in Spain, hardwood floor and antique-like light fixtures, all of which are made to look old, but actually are not.

One of the main reasons to visit Laguna Beach is its beautiful beaches. Although the hotel’s website lists it as a block from the beach, it’s actually only mere steps to the winding stairway that leads to the intimate secluded Cress Street Beach, a sandy cove with a phenomenal view with the only rocks being the majestic formations embedded in the sand. The hotel provides beach towels, and helpful staff deliver and set up comfortable beach chairs and large umbrellas.

In addition to the free ocean views and gorgeous nearly private beach, other perks are that the hotel allows small pets, with an additional fee of $35 and refundable $150 deposit; offers free parking something very hard to come by in Laguna; and a complimentary full breakfast. Served in a room with al fresco dining in a lovely courtyard with Spanish tile and a soothing fountain, your morning meal choices include a wide range of options including scrambled eggs with spinach and asparagus, bacon, sausage, bagels, fresh fruit, yogurt, muffins and Danish. Making the meal all the more enjoyable is the delightful Alina, who oversees the room assisting guests with her welcoming personality and cheerful helpfulness.

Other culinary delights are provided by the hotel’s two restaurants: Rooftop Lounge and K’Ya Bistro. The Rooftop Lounge is worth the price of admission for the view alone, a sweeping 180-degree view of the surf and sand, and is equipped with wood floor, tables and chairs; heaters; and sizeable umbrellas. An assortment of sandwiches are served during lunch, such as Shrimp Club and Seared Ahi, and appetizers are served during lunch and evening hours. Be sure to try the Burratta Bruschetta, which because of its unique presentation, doesn’t get soggy since all of the toppings are placed in the center of the dish; Peruvian Style Crab and Shrimp Ceviche with corn, onion, peppadew, sriracha and an unusual but welcome addition of sweet potato; and the Hawaiian Ahi Poke, served with won ton chips, seaweed, onion, spicy soy and wasabi tobiko. The most popular cocktails are the mojitos, which come in flavors of strawberry, tropical, mango, wild berry, champagne, ginger and bojito Red Bull; and the house-made Sangria composed of red wine, peach schnapps, brandy, fresh berries and a splash of O.J. and ginger ale. Prices are extremely reasonable, with pricees ranging from $6-$12 for drinks and $6-$17 for food items, one of the reasons this lounge is a popular place for locals to meet up, especially during sunsets.

Located on the first floor off of the lobby overlooking the Coast Highway, K’Ya Bistro offers both indoor and al fresco dining. The décor harkens back to the roots of the hotel with historic black and white photos, wall scone lighting, warm colors of beige and red, black wood tables and floor-to-ceiling arch windows. Here you’ll find fine dining quality without attitude or high prices. Being a connoisseur of risotto, I gave my enthusiastic stamp of approval to the Lobster & Truffle Risotto, enhanced with asparagus, caramelized onion and white wine. The Spiced Garlic Shrimp was another winner, with an accompaniment of Spanish butter beans, spinach and scrumptious romesco sauce. Try to save room for the restaurant’s signature dessert, Banana Pecan Bread Pudding with vanilla ice cream and bourbon sauce. Like the Lounge above, the prices are surprisingly affordable, with most items priced at around $10. And, an incredible deal can be found during the daily happy hour from 4:30-5:30 p.m., with any food item offered for half off with purchase of any cocktail, beer or wine; plus $5 deals on select appetizers, beer, mojitos, martinis, well drinks and select wines by the glass.

Overseeing the kitchen, which turns out the menus for both restaurants, are Executive Chef Craig Connole and Sous Chef Greg Pugliese. Connole has been at the hotel’s restaurants for nearly 11 years and has been cooking in hotel kitchens since he was 19, with previous experience in well-regarded hotels including Four Seasons, Meridian and Ritz-Carlton.

This boutique hotel has much to offer with an optimal location and will prove to be easy on your pocketbook. You may come for the magnificent view, but you’ll want to return again and again for the high quality and very reasonable pricing of both its rooms and restaurants.

La Casa Del Camino Hotel
1289 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949-497-2446
www.lacasadelcamino.com