6 Fresh SoCal Hotels to Stay at This Fall
One could argue that Southern California has set the standard for luxury hospitality for more than a century. As more and more people ventured west during the 1800s and discovered the mild climate, citrus groves and soft, sandy beaches lapped by blue waters, grand European-inspired hotels and resorts were built rapidly to meet the demand. The glittery glow of Hollywood only heightened interest in the region — and that has never really faded, says hotelier Avi Brosh. Brosh, an avid equestrian who grew up on the East Coast and attended Boston University, decided to establish his hospitality company, Palisociety, in Southern California. He opened his first East Coast–preppy-meets–SoCal–style hotel in West Hollywood in 2008, and the brand has since expanded with properties everywhere from San Francisco to a new hotel in San Diego.
“We tried to bring in San Diego’s casual, effortless sense of place. Southern California is where we started and where we’ll always draw our inspiration,” says Brosh.
Competition is stiff, and hotels continue to reinvent themselves. Here are six stunning new or newly renovated hotels that showcase what makes Southern California history, lifestyle and style so intriguing.
There are now more reasons to leave the beaches in Santa Monica and the stylish shopping in West Hollywood to explore Downtown L.A.’s museums, restaurants and sophisticated hotels like The Conrad (from $356 per night). It opened last summer in a Frank Gehry–designed tower that is part of The Grand LA, a shopping, dining and entertainment destination. The structure, an example of West Coast modernism, is inspired by natural forms. Guest rooms are the opposite of cookie-cutter boxes — there are 27 room types, from corner units with balconies and freestanding tubs to spacious suites. There are no bad views; many rooms overlook the glimmering Walt Disney Concert Hall. Gehry selected London-based Tara Bernerd & Partners to do the interior design, and the team has created spaces that feel natural and modern with linen wall coverings, floor-to-ceiling windows and details like leather drawer handles.
So Wes Anderson
Santa Monica’s iconic The Georgian Hotel (from $700 per night), where celebrities like Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were frequent guests, was featured in the book Accidentally Wes Anderson in 2017. While many hotels might claim to epitomize the director’s cinematic style, few do so with such aplomb. The hotel development company BLVD, behind L.A. hotels like Ace Hotel DTLA, bought the 1933 landmark in 2020 and embarked on a significant overhaul.
Guests walk on a Havana deco–inspired floor as they cross into the historic lobby with high ceilings, art deco chandeliers and decorative reliefs. Topiaries flank the Sunset Terrace, covered with a navy-striped awning. The Library is a fully stocked study with modern bestsellers and vintage books highlighting the history of art and culture in Los Angeles.
Preppy Meets Coastal
Brosh and the Palisociety design team control the design of each hotel in the Palisociety portfolio. Palihotel San Diego (from $225 per night), the largest Palisociety hotel in Southern California, with 122 rooms, is the reimagining of the 1912 Hotel St. James in the lively Gaslamp Quarter. The design team preserved original details like tin ceilings in the lobby, the grand marble staircase, the original floor tile and the elevator, one of the fastest in the world when it was built. Designers have paid homage to San Diego with details like a deep blue color in the lobby, whale tail door knockers on guest room doors and nautical stripes. Inspired by a classic French brasserie, the restaurant specializes in expertly mixed cocktails and impeccably cooked steaks.
San Diego’s Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club (from $299 per night) was built in 1946 when Hollywood A-listers like Ava Gardner, Lana Turner and Bob Hope would regularly cruise down the 101 to San Diego to decompress. At the half-acre Colonial-style property they could swim in the Olympic-size swimming pool and sip martinis. As the century went on, the Lafayette lost some of its luster. San Diego–based hospitality group CH Projects — behind many of San Diego’s most cinematic bars and restaurants — purchased the hotel three years ago and reimagined it as a city within a city, harkening back to its heyday, but with contemporary features.
Open since June, it has a lobby inspired by grand European hotels, with mirrors and an atrium. The 141 rooms have custom linens and in-room bar setups. There are seven distinct culinary venues, including a historical re-creation of a 1940s Worcester lunch car; a bowling alley and cocktail bar; and a Mexican-inspired restaurant and agave bar with a 110-year-old historic altar salvaged from a Mexican church. “We like environments that are independently operated and designed, so you can feel the heart and soul of the people behind the project,” says CH Projects founder Arsalun Tafazoli.
Newport Beach is known for its beaches and beautiful harbor, but the brand-new Pendry Newport Beach (from $395 per night) feels more like a sophisticated city hotel than a beach retreat. The 295 guest rooms, including 114 suites, designed by Studio Munge, Italo-Canadian designer Alessandro Munge’s conceptual architecture, landscaping and interior design firm, have couches and lounge chairs that are the colors of green olives, while silver accents like mirrored lamps and black-and-white carpets grace the suites. Green is a prominent feature throughout the hotel, and tall palm trees and other foliage surround the expansive pool deck and add to the vibe.
The hotel is also the home of The Elwood Club, a modern members’ club in a private wing that Studio Munge also designed. The Entertainment Room bar resembles a piece of jewelry with its champagne brass and metal canopy.
Surf Lodge Meets Positano
Part of the Auric Road Collection, a boutique hotel group known for considered properties like the Korakia in Palm Springs, Hotel Joaquin (from $478 per night) in Laguna Beach, which opened in 2018, is a seaside stay that stands out in SoCal. It’s neither a sprawling beach resort nor a surf-side motel. It’s a Mediterranean-inspired adults-only hideaway that feels current and timeless at the same time. Rooms have vinyl record players instead of television sets, as well as one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, while the bathrooms boast hand-cut tile and brass fixtures. Public spaces like the lobby and restaurant Saline open onto terraces that cascade down to a pristine pool deck. The property’s crisp white walls, curated art and ocean and island views (Catalina Island can be seen from some vantage points) could almost trick you into thinking you’re on the Amalfi Coast.