The Ranch at Laguna Beach may have opened its doors for the first time last autumn, but its golf course and grounds have been a staple in this chi-chi part of Orange County since it opened as a country club in California's glamorous 1950s.
Centred round the original club house, the hotel is set between two canyons. You’re less than 350 metres from the ocean, here, but you wouldn’t know it – the canyon walls create the same stillness as you find in the sand-padded Coachella Valley, and it’s so close to nature that, during my stay, I saw a couple of deer roaming near the herb garden. The one- and two-storey blocks of rooms, meanwhile, are arranged around a volleyball pitch and the pool, giving it more of the typical retro Southern California feel.
The new-look ranch has stuck to its country club origins with the golf course still taking pride of place (these days it’s named Ben Brown's after a former owner). The other main draw for the revamped property is that it’s family-friendly. There are a number of “junior ranger” programmes planned throughout the year, involving everything from hiking to sessions with the local birds of prey club.
The hotel is a short drive from downtown Laguna Beach, where beachside restaurants line the strip of sand and galleries showcasing local artists line the streets. There’s plenty of surfing, of course, and the number of cove beaches makes it perfect for beginners. Rockpile beach is one of the hot spots to test your moves before heading into stronger waves, while Brook's Street is where the more experienced head. For a hike with a view, try the canyons.
Rooms give the feel of a modern (and luxurious) take on the rustic outdoors, with an earthy palette of terracottas and greens matched with dark wood furniture. All rooms have incredibly comfortable beds and huge walk-in showers. Entry-level Canyon Rooms are located in short, bungalow-style terraces, each with individual patios. The Creekside Studios are larger with space for a sofa-bed and the choice of a furnished patio or balcony, while the twin-level, two-bedroom Cottages are popular with families.
Then there’s the Treehouse – a two-storey hexagonal building once occupied by none other than Ben Brown and his wife. It ramps up the retro SoCal feeling with floor-to-ceiling windows and a fire-pit overlooking the canyon and the golf course.
The Ranch at Laguna Beach, 31106 S. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. 001 800 223 3309; theranchlb.com
Doubles from $425 (£343), room only.
Access: 13 accessible rooms
Value: ***Reuse content