Malibu, California

Photo: California Beaches

Los Angeles is not your favorite city. It’s skyline isn’t very pretty. There are traffic and smog everywhere. Plus everyone always looks perfect. Too perfect. Malibu is a different story, though.

Malibu is just 30 miles from Downtown Los Angeles. It, too, is full of movie stars, entertainment executives, and people who don’t seem to need to work for a living. But it sits along the Pacific Coast Highway. It has nearly perfect Mediterranean climate. Most importantly, it lies along 21 miles of gorgeous coastline. The beaches make all the difference.

The location in between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean was originally settled by the Chumash people. Few roads cut through the area’s private land, steep clay slopes, and dry brush before the longest highway in California arrived in 1929. Much of the Bu was set aside as state land. Gorgeous homes with water views, the Getty Villa (part of the J. Paul Getty Museum), and Pepperdine University are here, too. While a 1950s motel was recently redesigned as a boutique hotel with a beach-house vibe.

Photo: The Surfrider Malibu

That hotel is the Surfrider. It was designed by an architect who grew up surfing this famous coastline. It’s named after Surfrider Beach, a premier surfing spot, that’s right across the street. It’s steps from the Malibu Pier, a historic landmark lined with restaurants, shops, and usually fishermen. More beaches—and famous right breaks—are just a short walk or drive away. But once you see the view from the Surfrider, it’s doubtful that you’ll venture very far.

The Surfrider feels like an extended living room. Succulents and electric charging stations stand outside the low, whitewashed building. Raw materials—including limestone, teak, and white oak—natural light, and local artwork fill the interior. The lounge and library feature woven overhead lights. Organic Canyon Coffee and homemade banana bread are set out there in the morning. Twenty rooms are simply decorated with custom beds and Italian linens. Each one has a balcony or a terrace, a locally curated mini bar, and Grown Alchemist skin-care products, as well. There’s a Beach Club with chairs, umbrellas, coolers, and custom-made surfboards. Surfboard and wetsuit storage, in addition to a heated shower, are also outside. Your favorite spot will likely be the rooftop terrace, though.

The Surfrider Roof Deck & Bar is the perfect spot to both begin and end the day. The guest-only space serves breakfast—avocado toast, breakfast burritos, and a little bit of everything thrown in a “nourish bowl”—among overstuffed couches and chairs. A fire pit, live music, and creative cocktails—like the Endless Summer, a coconut-infused margarita—become the focus as the sun starts to set. You’ll only want to leave if a bonfire starts roaring by the waves later in the night. Southern California is finally starting to feel like a place you could call home.

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