The Malibu Guide
At its heart, the city of Malibu is a small town—with its remarkable concentration of some of the prettiest hiking trails in the country, 20-plus distinct beaches, and a close-knit community of local-owned businesses, it’s also so much more than just “27 miles of scenic beauty.” There’s a lot of history here (the land was originally inhabited by the Chumash Native Americans and the ocean breaks were among the first to welcome surfers back in the ’20s), the best of which, many would argue, is still in the making thanks to a recent influx of fledgling shops, boutique hotels, and restaurants. An easy 25-minute drive from LA, Malibu is bisected by the Pacific Coast Highway (aka California State Route 1, if you want to get technical), which runs along the California coast from Orange County, through Big Sur, and all the way up to Mendocino, leaving the beach on one side and the stunning Santa Monica mountains on the other—in other words, road-trip gold.
The Surfrider23033 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
Who better to take on the tall order of preserving the iconic 1950s Surfrider Hotel than local son Matthew Goodwin, an architect who grew up surfing at First Point across the street? Together with his wife, Emma Crowther Goodwin, as creative director, and New York–based business partner Alessandro Zampedri, they’re hoping to infuse a bit of polished California nostalgia back into a space they’re treating as an extended living room for both locals in need of a staycation and visitors alike. The twenty-room hotel is luxurious, airy, and light-filled—you get the sense it’s the kind of place their friends will be hanging out. The rooms are thoughtfully laid out and beautifully appointed, each with its own ocean-facing balcony and hammocks, plus Grown Alchemist toiletries in the bathroom and Parachute waffle robes. (For a real treat, book the Surfrider Suite, which at 500 square feet feels like a serious home away from home thanks to a generously sized balcony, separate sitting area, and kitchenette.) They teamed up with LA-based Croft House and Malibu Market & Design for custom furniture, and each room features reclaimed teak floors, imported tiles, woven overhead lights, and Italian linens; a few have their own kitchenette stocked with locally made ceramics. There’s a guests-only roof deck bar and restaurant, which has uninterrupted views of Surfrider Beach across the street and a killer fire pit.
The Native Hotel28920 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 424.644.0517
Formerly known as the Malibu Riviera, and built back in 1947, a recent revamp has brought new life to this charming beach hideaway. Just steps from both Zuma Beach and Point Dume, thirteen rooms, all with king-sized beds (Casper mattresses, obviously), are sparse and resemble a fancy sleepaway camp; bathrooms are simple, but comfortable and outfitted with subway tiles and brass fixtures. (Don't miss the Dutch doors and private patios for unplugging amid the greenery-filled outdoors.) There's a beautiful collection of artwork, much of which was created by local artists especially for the hotel. Since the Native just quietly opened its doors in Spring 2017, more amenities, including a chef for their dining concept, will be announced soon.
Malibu Beach Inn22878 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 310.651.7777
Occupying an especially picturesque stretch of Carbon Beach (directly on the shore, to be exact), the Inn was the first luxury hotel in Malibu. And while others have joined the club since, its calming minimalist interiors, ocean-facing balconies—every single room comes with one—impressive art collection, and on-site spa suite are still a big hit with both out-of-towners and staycationing locals. The Carbon Beach Club restaurant, which blessedly welcomes non-guests as well, is a good way to get in on the action without booking an overnight stay—and enjoying a top notch seafood meal in the process. Note: The hotel is in the process of revamping all 47 guestrooms, so be sure to ask for a renovated room when booking.
Calamigos Ranch327 Latigo Canyon Rd., Malibu | 818.575.4400
If you're looking for a romantic getaway that's close to Los Angeles but feels entire worlds away, you won't find anything more fitting than the Calamigos Guest Ranch. Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, it’s also no wonder why this picturesque property has become a coveted wedding venue. The private bungalows and cottages, set within 200 oak-filled acres, offer guests a place to decompress and reconnect with nature. Built in 1947 and family operated ever since, this rustic gem features a vineyard and organic garden that grows strawberries and herbs. Beyond exploring their three pools and five restaurants, you can make a quick trip (twelve-minute shuttle to be exact) to their five-acre beach club for all manner of beach activities.
Nobu Ryokan22752 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 310.317.3080
While Malibu has long had a shortage of places to stay, that’s all changing now and a prime stretch of PCH is getting a modern update with the arrival of the Nobu Ryokan (a new hotel concept for the brand), just a few yards up the street from its namesake restaurant on Carbon Beach. Here, the intimate 16-room hotel is done up in a minimalist Ryokan-style. This translates to wraparound terraces, floor-to-ceiling windows meant to maximize ocean views, and teak, bronze and limestone detailing. The generously-sized rooms are a nod to both California and Japanese design with clean lines, tatami mats, and outdoor teak soaking tub. Guests naturally have priority booking at the restaurant next door, but there’s also a special in-room dining menu for those who don’t want to leave the comfort of their kimono robe, either. Photos: Interior, Barbara Kraft; Exterior, Patrick Janelle (@aguynamedpatrick)