Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stay In Newport Like A Surfing Local

Newport Beach has plenty going for it as one of several dozen beachside communities up and down the California coastline. Anybody who loves art, water, sand, and waves will have a blast here.

When you live in Los Angeles, there are two ways locals stay and play. Sometimes they splurge for a weekend on some of the most exclusive hotels in the world. Other times they make a play for location — about one block from the boardwalk and the sand.

Bay Shore Peninsula Hotel is small done right.

The staff of the Bay Shore Peninsula Hotel knows they can't win on luxurious, but they can compete by being laid back. They look after the little things instead — friendly breakfasts served every morning and cookies made fresh in the afternoon.

They work even harder at it too, ever since service turned their 2-1/2 star hotel into the top rated on places like TripAdvisor. It's kind of a quirky cool anomaly given that it is in the company of four- and five-star hotels. The primary difference is consistency. They know who they are.

They want to make people feel at home so they add some high touch highlights that you would never expect from a small three-story hotel like a turndown service with complimentary chocolates. They have beach towels and boogie boards for their guests. They have 300 DVD titles that they share for free.

They have free onsite parking or will give you a pass to park at the lot across the street (plan on that). They even have a coin-operated guest laundry but are willing to give you the detergent free. And if that doesn't make you feel a little bit old school, then maybe all the art by John Severson will.

If you don't know who John Severson is, then you don't surf. The short story is that he is the founder of SURFER Magazine and Surfing Hall of Fame surf culture artist. He has done it all. Movies, posters, prints, paintings, and shirts. The hotel was smart enough to get their hands on a few choice pieces.

In more ways than one, it's a match made in heaven. The vibe is meant to feel like a modernized throwback without ever being overdone. And if anybody knows how to make that happen, it would be the Pratt family. They've owned the place for 50 years. Some of the nautical decor even tells some of the story, with additions to the collection made here and there over the years.

The location will lock in many guests the first time. 

Naturally the best amenity, alongside friendly service, is location. More than anything else, it is being one of the few nearby beach hotels in Newport. Almost all the restaurants are within an easy walk.

With the exception of nearby Balboa Island, the beach is what makes Newport tick. Everything else you want to see sprung out around it, like the Lido Theatre that originally opened in 1938.

It was such a close-knit community even then that the first movie ever played there was Jezebel with Bette Davis. As the story goes, she told the owner he better open with one of her films. She lived too close for him to refuse.

Another must see with deep historical roots is the Orange County Museum of Art. Like the hotel, it's on the small side. Some people see everything inside of about an hour. It took me considerably longer because I enjoyed taking in the history of it. It opened in 1962 and quickly caught national attention for the caliber of work on display.

Do keep in mind that the Bay Shore Peninsula Hotel is near the Newport Pier and not the busy Balboa Pier or Balboa Fun Zone. They are still pretty close as part of the Balboa Peninsula.

Bay Shore Peninsula Hotel Hangs 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

All in all, the rooms are small but comfortable. If you really feel the need for more room, ask about one of their suites. The hotel is literally one block from the harbor side and one block from the beach.

Of course, if you are looking for more Newport options, start by comparing specials against top travel deals at Expedia.com. It frequently runs specials on West Coast locations, including Newport Beach. The area has always been one of my favorite destinations and one of several reasons I moved here so long ago.
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