In the early 1900s, Casa Laguna was designed by one of California’s premier builder/architect teams, Frank Miller and Arthur Benton, for Miller’s wife, Marion. Perched high above the Pacific Ocean, the Spanish-style space has gone through many iterations — a private estate, an artists’ colony, a bed & breakfast inn, and now a hotel.

In 2014, Casa Laguna was given new life when sold to PRG Hospitality. The team envisioned the destination as a luxury boutique hotel, and brought in the one and only Martyn Lawrence-Bullard to reimagine the iconic property. Bullard’s extensive redesign is everything you’d hope for, yet the rich history is still front and center. It reopened in April of 2016 and has already redefined the meaning of “must-visit”.

Entering the lobby on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we realized we’d found our happy place. Bullard used plenty of Moorish tiles and ceramics alongside vibrant, plush furnishings for a result that feels more Marrakech than Orange County. The blues and yellows throughout pay homage to the iconic landscape outside, while the rich woods and terracotta offer a nod to the original design.

There are 23 guest rooms, including five suites. For something more private, there’s the Bungalow, a stand-alone guest house with a private patio, relaxing clawfoot tub and steam shower, a separate living room, and large kitchenette. The rooms boast artisan Moroccan tiles and thoughtful details, like patterned ceilings, beds draped in Bullard’s own fabrics, and exquisite light fixtures. (What a view to wake up to!) Of course, traditional amenities apply as well — each room has garden or ocean views, Cowshed bath amenities, and a Dean & Deluca mini bar.

The outdoor gardens are a highlight — so much so that we nearly forgot the ocean was across the street. With a bellini in hand, you can wander the elaborate pathways, relax in a quiet corner, or stop at the pool to catch the sun set over the ocean. The service is wonderful, so that bellini can — and will — be replenished often. (Bonus: the restaurant has a European style continental breakfast daily, and has just started lunch service. We suggest the cheese boards!) For those who prefer something more active, the locals-only Victoria Beach is just a short walk and the perfect spot to enjoy a good book or a dip in the ocean.

For those of us in Los Angeles, it’s such a relief to know a design-lover’s haven is just a short drive away. But truth be told, we’d cross the country for this gem! We can’t wait to visit again soon. Perhaps next time we’ll indulge at the spa??