Produced in partnership with Marriott International.
Above the sunshine-yellow clawfoot tub in the Lido House presidential suite hangs a piece of artwork that perfectly summed up AD cover photographer Douglas Friedman’sstay at the Newport Beach hotel. “The only good suit is a wetsuit,” it says, a phrase that quickly became the unofficial mantra of his vacation. It’s also practical advice, considering Lido House’s waterfront location at the convergence of Lido Isle, Lido Peninsula, and Balboa Peninsula—it’s only a 5-minute stroll to the surf-perfect waves of the Pacific.
Even since relocating to Marfa, a fountain of creative inspiration in the desert of West Texas, Friedman often finds himself craving Southern California. “There’s nothing like shooting in that California light,” he says. “The way that the sun bounces off the sea and into the hills—I haven’t found that anywhere else in the world.” Highly regarded for his skilled eye for superb design, Friedman’s discerning taste navigated his lens towards the town of Newport Beach this time.
The ultimate base to take in SoCal’s irresistible essence during his trip? Lido House, which, as a part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, offers more than just an impeccably designed place to sleep, but bespoke local experiences that leave a lasting imprint long past check-out. As a New York native, Friedman appreciates the distinct lifestyle of Newport Beach, whose residents savor any opportunity to be outdoors. “It’s such a charming place to be. Whenever I make new discoveries like the Lido Marina Village, I remember how much I’d love to be part of an intimate beach community,” he says.
Speaking of Lido Marina Village, the revived destination brings a delightful energy to Newport Beach, with a curated selection of shopping and al fresco, farm-to-table (and ocean-to-plate) dining. On Wednesdays, an open-air farmers’ market blossoms through the Village’s main street, showcasing California’s freshest bounty of produce, fresh-cut flowers, and artisanal goods from nearby vendors. Anchored by the lively Lido Marina, the finest aspects of life in Newport Beach mingle here under blue skies. Just a quarter-mile down the road is Lido House, where visitors can continue to feel like a local, even if just for a few days.
Standing regally with a nautical, Cape Cod-meets-Newport Beach exterior, there’s no doubt about the hotel’s East Coast architectural inspiration, especially when gazing up at its iconic five-story lighthouse. When the old Newport Beach City Hall was relocated in 2013, Lido Beach owner Robert Olson’s development company won the bid to build the 130-room hotel, a place meant to feel like home for the entire community. With dark roof shingles and clapboard siding, Lido House could actually almost be an extension of Olson’s personal Cape Cod-style home on Little Balboa Island, built back in 2006. The doors are painted in Cottage Red, the same color as Olson’s own front door (and one of seven colors permitted under Nantucket’s strict housing regulations). Even the barrel vaulted ceiling in Lido House’s restaurant, The Mayor’s Table, is identical to the ceiling in Olson’s dining room.
Still, the hotel’s design is intended to harmonize with the surrounding neighborhood and the community’s personality. When constructing the property’s five premier beach cottages, local designers were tasked with manifesting their ideal beach houses. Named after the islands that make up Newport Beach, the cottages capture a unique aesthetic interpretation of coastal Orange County.
According to Friedman, it’s not just these architectural elements that stand out, but the rich moments that accompany a stay at Lido House. “The moment I arrived at Lido Housewas just incredible. From being greeted by name as I exited my car to diving into one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in, it was easy to fall in love,” he recalls keenly. “I like to approach photographing hotels like shooting a home, which felt effortless to do at Lido House.”
As a visual storyteller, Friedman admired the attention to detail at every corner, like the exquisite wood moldings and shiplap that create a sense of warmth in a nautical setting. “It brings me back to summers on the Cape, but the palm trees outside the window remind me where I am.” The New England-inspired design is certainly a treat, but Lido House’s offered experiences are what fully immerse you in the destination, starting with your taste buds.
Friedman suggests making time for indulging at the colorful poolside cabanas, alternating between sips of Piper Hiedsick champagne (a bottle produced in partnership with Lido House’s executive chef, Riley Huddleston) and melty cheeseburger bites. Who couldn’t do that all day? Next, be sure not to miss Topside, the city’s only rooftop bar, for margaritas and boozy fruit popsicles served with an unparalleled view of Newport Beach. Friedman’s culinary voyage culminated at The Mayor’s Table: “I love that the menu reflects the design of the property, all inspired by New England and peppered with California flair. I can still taste the butter-drawn lobster and the Dungeness crab donuts—oh, and the sea scallops were the sweetest I’ve ever eaten.” And what to order for dessert? “The deconstructed cheesecake, hands down.”
While that dessert may seem like a reward in itself, Friedman also made time for a well-deserved pampering session at the Boost Spa, the ultimate cherry on top. The extensive treatment menu is rooted in the delicate chemistry of natural botanicals, like nourishing Frangipani Monoi oil, and top-of-the-line dermatological technology. It’s all an ode to relaxation, California-style. “The aestheticians took great care in making me look my freshest with a facial and massage.” An afternoon at the spa is the perfect prep for sailing Newport Harbor, one of the tailored excursions that Lido House’s concierge can organize by request. Seen from the water, Newport Beach really shows off.
“The 3 hours sailing at sunset around Newport Beach energized my creative flow. Seeing the sculling teams rowing by, school kids taking part in a regatta. Spotting dolphins and sea lions nearby. There was so much fodder for inspiration, and that’s why I love it here.” As the sky’s colors kaleidoscoped at sunset, Friedman took out his camera to capture one last shot in that dreamy California light. “Lido House has proved that it is exactly the hotel that Newport Beach needed, in design and in experience. And coming from the desert, it was what I needed, too.”
This is Douglas Friedman’s story. Now it’s time to write yours at one of Marriott’s 300 independent hotels.