The sunny, unfussy rooms at the Surfrider don’t try to upstage the picturesque bend of coastline outside of your window. But the light, beachy tones and uncluttered, refined design are still fit for a magazine spread without ever feeling too precious—this is still a room equipped to handle the water and sand you’ll track in from across the street, with a comfy bed you’ll sink into after a day in the sun. Everything smells lovely, too, thanks to the hotel’s custom-made candles and the Grown Alchemist soaps in the rain shower.
While your private balcony adds a bit of living space to the bed-sized rooms, the street noise along the Pacific Coast Highway will keep you from lounging on the provided hammock for very long (the thick sliding glass doors thankfully buffer the sound to a faint hum inside). But no matter: Most of your time on property is likely to be spent on the hotel’s rooftop terrace anyway.
The reason to stay at the Surfrider, this low-key, privileged perch is only open to hotel guests (who are welcome to invite two additional visitors per reservation). We had a late-night cobbler sent to the room, but otherwise most meals were spent out here, chatting up the affable, attentive staff and staring at Malibu Pier in a perfectly reclined chair with a citrusy, mezcal-and-amaro L.A. Woman in hand. Make sure to order the local catch-of-the-day ceviche bathed in a Thai coconut broth, and generously spread some bone marrow butter on fresh slices of sourdough driven over daily from Gjusta (the Venice bakery makes an appearance on the morning menu, too, with crackly croissants that come with a carob-based, Nutella-like spread). Even on a cold, cloudy day in Malibu (it’s way more common than you’d think), the patio felt perfectly cozy thanks to heaters and blankets (a hot toddy didn’t hurt, either).
Malibu doesn’t have a downtown, per se; it stretches along PCH and into the canyons. But the Surfrider Hotel, situated across the street from Malibu Pier and just down the road from Malibu Country Mart, is about as centrally-located as you can get. You’ll be only a few steps from one of SoCal’s most famous surf spots at Surfrider Beach, though we’d recommend hopping in the car and driving west at least once toward Point Dume or El Matador for some more dramatic coastline.
1. Malibu Farm Cafe: For casual farm-to-table fare served on the end of the pier
2. Adamson House: For a tour of a 1920s Spanish-style estate and its elaborate decorative tiles
3. Broad Street Oyster Co.: For the best damn lobster roll in the city
Time Out tip:
While there’s no pool or fitness studio, you should definitely take advantage of the hotel’s ocean adventure amenities: You’ll find towels, blankets, umbrellas, sunscreen and surfboards on loan, with wetsuits available to rent, too. You can even borrow a hybrid Mini (with a roof rack to stow your surfboard) to cruise the canyons or scope out farther-flung beaches; you’ll only need to pay for