Hotel Lobby Hang Outs (even if you are NOT staying there)
The best part about hotel resorts is the feeling of being in some exotic place or city, regardless if you live in the city of that very establishment.
You may be a local. You may be a tourist with certain hotels outside of your budget, or perhaps they were already booked, or you are looking for a break from the lobby of the hotel you are currently staying at. No matter the reason, this is a relatively cost free way of entertaining yourself through the magic of people watching and mingling with a crowd where you technically should not be.
The hotels (and lobbies within) are suggested based upon the following: dynamic guests staying at/frequenting the establishment; relaxed security; friendly non-threatening staff; chance of "hooking up"; networking opportunities; and if your feeling really daring, free amenities such as access to swimming pools and other common areas.
In all seriousness, most hotel resorts are aware of this practice and are happy to overlook it as long as you are respectful of the guests and premises and spend at least a little cash at one of the on-site offerings (cafes, restaurants, gift shop, vending machines, etc...).
P.S. We never had this conversation.
30801 South Coast Highway
Although the lobby and surrounding area of the Montage is of museum quality (a good museum, not one of those class trip deals) that both art and architectual enthusiasts alike could browse for hours, the real appeal of this "hang out" prospect is found in its entirety. With grounds that rival that of any multi-billionaire estate, complete with its own beach that sits below the watchful eye of Laguna's magnificient cliffs, the Montage is pretty much its own area code within this beach town.
Even as a non-guest, you could plan a whole day at the Montage right up until the sun sets behind the Pacific. With lots of nearby activities and sightseeing galore with amenities that rival, well...a city, you can truly play "millionaire for a day" without being bothered by overbearing staff. This place is BIG and given the proximity to the surf and sand, checked in guests are dressed down in casual beach attire into the evening, so there will be little to "give you away" to any suspicious eyes.
Celebrity sightings are also plentiful and any TV show or movie set in the southern vicinity of Orange County will mention the Montage at some point, making this place the perfect conversation piece.
647 South Coast Highway
Pacific Edge Hotel is now a Joie De Vivre property (that means something) as of June 2010, which we suppose adds some pizazz, or at least gains more positive PR for the establishment.
The lobby lends to the whole vibe of Pacific Edge Hotel, as a true Orange County structural resident, with its surfy beach decor and laid back personel. The lobby does not provide for hours of hang out time by any means but its the gateway to California Dreams as Pacific Edge Hotel is by far the best in the area with respect to beach front fun. Make your way out to the wooden patio area on the ocean side and you can almost jump into the surf its so close to the lapping shorebreak waves. There is zero pretentiousness at this upscale but friendly place, so you will never feel out of sorts, guest or otherwise.
Be camera ready if you are an inlander and want to show friends and family what the California lifestyle is all about via photo montage. Pacific Edge Hotel is about as SoCal as you can get!
1555 South Coast Highway
If the Montage is all about upscale class, and the Pacific Edge Inn about upscale fun, then The Surf & Sand Resort is the upscale contemporary hot spot for the nouveau rich in Southern California.
Surf & Sand Resort beckons the beautiful deep pocketed people of the world to come mingle pool side over martinis and a background overlooking a pacific paradise. Many functions are booked at the Surf & Sand so the traffic flow is steady and makes for great people watching. Networking and introduction opportunities are abound if you fit in (dont walk in with sandy toes past 5pm).
This is another celebrity hotspot and Lauren Conrad (L.C.) has been known to frequent this establishment in the past. If you dont know who she is, we applaud you.