A Stay at the Serene Hotel Joaquin

Hotel Joaquin

Nestled among the cliffs of Laguna Beach, Hotel Joaquin is everything you could possibly want in a boutique hotel. What used to be The Motor Inn Laguna Beach, Hotel Joaquin, inspired by the Mexican land grant of Rancho San Joaquin, is now a “seaside sanctuary”.

The Decor:

The decor and design immediately caught our eye upon arrival. Think the perfect mix of natural elements and modern design that play so well together to create an open and inviting bungalow where no one feels out of place. Featuring one-of-a-kind vintage pieces scattered throughout, the designers drew inspiration “from the island of St. Barths, the 1950s Southern California beach culture, and the timeless and prestige aesthetic of the Mediterranean coast” to create a dazzling hillside community.

It’s the little things:

The attention to detail is apparent in the best way throughout this hotel. From the welcoming staff, who is available via text to bring you your morning coffee or tea, to the complimentary spritz upon arrival and their very own record library which guests can browse through and grab their favorite album to play in their own room.

Once settled into our room, the lack of TV’s allowed time for us to unwind without all the noise. Instead, a Tom Petty record spun in the background as we sipped our spritz and got ready for dinner at Saline.


Arguably the most memorable time from our stay at Hotel Joaquin was dinner at Saline. Think less of a sit down meal and more of a complete dining experience you’ll surely never forget. Saline is exclusive for those staying at the hotel. You’re welcome to bring guests as long as it’s a 1:1 ratio, which made it feel all the more special.

We ordered all of the most popular appetizers and two entrees to split among five people. Every single thing was out of this world BUT if we had to choose a favorite it would have to be the Truffled Tuna, like a poke with a truffle oil incorporated and served with a flaky almost croissant like pita or the Sea Bass, cooked to perfection, that it almost melts in your mouth and served on a bed of forbidden rice with a coconut milk sauce. And yes, all the others dishes where this decadent.

Believe it or not the food wasn’t even the best part, the chef, Leo Bongarra, former executive chef of LA’s Sunset Tower Hotel, sat with us after we had finished eating for at least an hour chatting and telling his story. The way he speaks of Saline, his passion for cooking and his love for the special community of Laguna Beach was truly something and it’s no wonder they’ve created such a special place to gather. We then got a tour of the kitchen, which reminded me of a New York City vibe of a kitchen, tiny, hot but magic taking place everywhere.

If you stay at this hotel only to experience Saline, you won’t be disappointed. Breakfast is also on the house and of course chef Leo isn't offering up any old usual hotel breakfast, this was just as good as dinner! French toast, Fritatta & the smoothie of the day the perfect meal to get you going.


The hotel offers yoga on the terrace at 9am and they also had the option to meet in the lobby at 9 to head off for a group hike. Although our favorite perk was to head to the beach where the hotel will set you up with chairs, a picnic and an extra-large umbrella to enjoy the amazing beaches of laguna.

All in all, if you get the chance to stay at the very special Hotel Joaquin, don’t pass it up.


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