New York Times Hotel Review: In Newport Beach, Calif., Bucking the Tide
Oct 29 2018
The 135-room Lido House, which opened in April, flips the script of the standard, Southern California beach hotel. Instead of a hacienda-style sprawl of buildings or a glassy modern tower, the property is anchored by a newly constructed Cape Cod style mansion. That makes its fun, funky interior design accents all the more unexpected: graffiti-ish ceilings, art works made with neon tubes of light, chandeliers of wicker and twine. Also unexpected: the hotel happens to be a Marriott, part of the chain’s boutique-inspired Autograph Collection. Instead of cookie-cutter rooms, the developer Robert D. Olson, a Newport Beach native, hired five local interior designers to trick out the hotel in different styles that nod to the history of this boat and boardwalk speckled region — Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall used to vacation here — while pushing it forward as a tourist destination of today.
Fifty miles south of downtown Los Angeles, the hotel sits between Newport Beach and Lido Marina. Walk (or bike — the area’s preferred mode of transportation) half a mile west and you’ll reach a wide, sandy beach studded with umbrellas and volleyball nets. Less than a mile south, the Newport Beach pier juts into the Pacific and offers epic sunset views. The newly revived Lido Marina Village is a quarter mile north of the hotel; it’s rife with restaurants, breweries and independent boutiques. The marina is also a docking point for electric “Duffy” boats that are available for organized or self-guided tours of the picturesque bay and channels.
In addition to standard guest rooms, Lido House offers five cottages set back from the main hotel. My mother and I, visiting midweek in July, reserved one of the cottages (it was her birthday, and a few friends of hers came by to celebrate). The two-bedroom cottage offered more than enough space, although the uncarpeted stairs between the bedrooms and living area required careful negotiating. The interior juxtaposed pops of color — a coral nightstand, fuchsia throw pillows — with nautical accents and included a stack of vacation-ready paperbacks (“Saltwater Buddha: a Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea”).
The master bathroom came with free flip flops instead of slippers, given the hotel’s proximity to the beach. It was roomy enough for a stand-alone tub as well as a shower stall. The bath products, by the Italian grooming brand MoMo, smelled grassy and luxurious.
Lido House’s rooms frame a central courtyard with a Jacuzzi, saltwater pool and poolside cabanas. During the day, guests of all ages flock to the pool, which also serves lunch, snacks and drinks. At night, the crowd moves upstairs to Topside Roof Deck, Newport Beach’s only rooftop bar, which offers expansive views of the coastline. The hotel’s spa has a full slate of treatments, and its fitness center, open 24/7, contains state-of-the-art equipment like a Peloton spinning bike. Every room has a flat-screen television, and the hotel provides free Wi-Fi and capsules for the in-room Nespresso machines.
City Hall used to stand on the land now occupied by the Lido House, and the hotel’s main restaurant, the Mayor’s Table, pays homage to that history with a wall of framed, sepia-toned portraits of former mayors. The food, however, is very much of this era: produce-centric, fancifully plated dishes like charcoal infused pasta ($22) and deep-fried avocado with chili mayo ($12). Owing to the location, there’s also a lot of seafood (chilled spot prawns, charred octopus, lobster risotto). The hotel’s coffee shop and ice cream parlor, Crew Coffee and Cremerie, serves treats more typically found seaside, though there are also raw, vegan energy balls for the dairy-averse.
A beach house with benefits, Lido House combines the familiarity of a global chain with the eclectic touch of a boutique hotel.
Lido House, 3300 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, Calif.; www.lidohousehotel.com.