A little advice to anyone who has been planning a getaway for several weeks and has built up an idyllic vision of what it will be like – stop now and don’t overthink this. It will NOT turn out as planned. If it’s too late, just take a deep breath and go with the flow. It will turn out fine.
I, the overthinker, booked what I thought was a beach front, ocean-view room. What I got was a 2nd floor room facing PCH – but to be fair, the balcony did have a view of the ocean (no beach) over the 3 buildings in front.
Check in wasn’t until 4pm but I arrived early and left my car in the hotel lot ($34 a day about which I was not informed). I walked one mile south on PCH to Mozambique for lunch (The guy at the front desk said it was 2 or 3 blocks). I was the first one there so I had a very attentive waiter all to my self.. So for my first meal on my “vacation “, I had a shrimp Caesar Salad and Creme Brulee accompanied by 2 very tasty margaritas.
I checked in at 2pm, immediately changed into bathing suit and headed for the beach. This handy private beach was 3 flights of steep stairs, through the parking garage, down another 3 flights of stairs, then 2 more slippery stairs – voila!! A beach attendant set a lounge chair in whatever spot I desired, put up a large umbrellas and provided me with a beach towel. I spent the next couple of hours listening to the waves, dozing, and watching happy puppies playing in the surf.
I wasn’t expecting the nearby restaurants to be so crowded. I thought I would drop by The Deck for dinner at 6ish and wait a few minutes. The Deck is exactly what the name implies. The bar and dining tables are on a small deck overlooking the ocean. The place was packed with very friendly people.. I hadn’t realized just how small a restaurant this was. The diners at one table asked me to put in my bid for when the sunset was going to occur. He said the winner had to buy drinks for the table, so I said 8:30 which was 2 hours hence. They laughed but asked me to give them a serious guess. How about 8 minutes. They acted surprised, but 8 minutes later the sun had disappeared into the horizon. No one was more surprised than I.
Two hours later they had still not called my name. A waiter suggested that I ordered to go from the bar. I took the Beach Burger back to my room. It was really good and almost worth the long wait. Vermont Cheddar, Applewood Bacon, Arugula, Tomato with Chipotle Aioli on a Brioche Bun. The burger was cooked perfectly.. It wasn’t messy, stayed together, and I didn’t even need a napkin. So hungry – forgot to take a photo.
The next day I walked a block to Orange Inn. I had seen that sign hundreds of time as I drove south through Laguna. It was obviously a local coffee hangout, and I could see why. Everything was so fresh. I ordered a fresh quava juice and a very large croissant.
I actually spoke to a Laguna resident there, and he suggested that I walk along the water up to Main Beach and Forest Avenue shopping. What a great idea, and it was another beautiful sunny day. This was my route.
I walked up and down Forest, bought a birthday gift for a friend and had a light lunch at the Yard Bar in the Lumber Yard.
Back at the hotel, back in my bathing suite for another afternoon in the sun. Some scenes from my walk back.
About my room and besides the fact that it was not on the beach. The balcony was not very inviting. My plan to have happy hour there every night and listen to the waves was not appealing – no fun looking at a bunch of buildings. I never uncorked my wine.
My dinner at Driftwood Kitchen (The only reservation I could get was 5:15) was pretty amazing, and I think a must add to my favorite meals of all time. I enjoyed a glass of sparkling rose with a selection of 6 east and west coast oysters on the 1/2 shell. Then came a small Caesar Salad with anchovy in a delightful Caesar dressing. The perfect medium rare FlatIron Steak was on a bed of Chimchurri Sauce, Roasted Mushrooms and Crispy Red Onions. It came with Pork Belly which I did not eat. It was unnecessary and beautiful without it. Dessert was Sticky Toffee Cake with Warm Toffee Sauce and Chantilly Cream. A Cup of Decaf Baileys ended my perfect evening. My waiter Juan Carlos Acosta was my waiter extraordinaire. He was right there to attend to my every need.
It was a little overcast that night, so not much of a sunset.
Here is a shot of The Deck from my table at Driftwood Kitchen.
On the last morning I walked to The Pantry at The Old Pottery Place. I had a Breakfast sandwich of a Fried Egg, Home-Made Sausage, Crispy Applewood Bacon, and Sliced Gouda with Cracked Pepper Aioli on a soft Challah Bun.
The last of my view on the way back to the hotel for checkout. Cooler today and a little overcast.
About the hotel – here is where the disappointment lies. I guess it’s probably me. When I pay this much for a room I expect to at least get the normal amenities. Room service menu was on the dresser but there was none available. It is provided by Driftwood Kitchen but they were much too busy. No one ever answered the phone. There were no wash cloths in the very tiny bathroom, and the bath tub was very slippery. The Keurig coffee machine worked fine the first day but did not want to stay on the next day. My room key worked only the the first day and a half. There was no one to help with bags, and the elevator was not handy to where my room was located.. While I was trying to handle everything and not fall down the stairs, the maid took my overnighter and walked it down to the lobby for me.
The bed was comfortable with lots of fluffy pillows but the noise from the entire complex was so loud, I wasn’t sure what was going one. I was hoping to hear the waves at night but that was impossible. Everyone must have had their air conditioning on with their windows open. There was a disclaimed on my reservation that did not guarantee a noise free hotel – but this was ridiculous!
I found it interesting that no one at the hotel checkout asked me if I enjoyed my stay, or if everything was OK. AND apparently to get a ground floor beach-front room with ocean view is more than double what I paid. One final annoyance and totally my own fault…….I ordered a Spiced Pumpkin Chai at The Pantry to enjoy on my drive home. I left it on the window ledge outside my room.
Hotel stay a disappointment but the food, the sweets, the being surrounded by some of nature’s wonders was a pleasure!
The Other Thing – My Fitbit was happy with me. I walked a total of 19,630 steps. That is 9-3/4 miles for me.