Arabella Laguna: A Not-So-Secret Garden by the Sea

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As you approach Arabella Laguna, you may not be sure you’re in the right place. Soaring elm trees line the front of the property with only an unmarked wooded walkway to enter through. Once inside, guests find themselves transported from the roar of daily life to the quiet shade of a large English garden. Chirping songbirds and floral scents welcome visitors all day while twinkling tree lights enchant at night. A glorious centerpiece, this garden naturally connects the four buildings that make up Arabella Laguna, a cottage-style resort and an idyllic event locale.

Comprised of studio rooms, suites, and full cottages, the property is unlike any other in Laguna Beach. It could easily be separate homes and apartments, but the owner instead created a home-away-from-home style resort. Even the smallest studio includes a full kitchen stocked with everyday essentials for preparing one’s own meals (Pavilions is just a short walk away) and a laundry facility is on-site. Housekeeping is neither included nor performed daily, so guests enjoy privacy and a genuine at-home feel.

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Perhaps that is why families and couples alike are drawn to the convenience and spaciousness of these cottages, as well as for their Gallery Row location. Residents have discovered them for staycations and a place to retreat to when their house requires work or a plumbing disaster strikes.

There’s no restaurant, resort fees, or staff to deal with, it’s just your own charming cottage, a short walk to the beach, with a dreamlike garden.

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Indeed, the garden serves as a common gathering place with plenty of chairs and tables. Wedding parties and other events are also drawn to the property, because as pretty as the flowers and trees are during the day, thousands of white lights turn it into a nighttime wonderland come dusk. Up to 100 guests can be accommodated in outdoor seating, and the property’s indoor hospitality area (the Verandah) includes a chef’s kitchen for caterer use. Up to 24 guests can stay overnight in the property’s rooms and suites, starting at $199 with a two-night minimum.

Small vintage homes can be found all over Laguna Beach, but before luxury resorts and golf courses dotted the coastline of California, the entire state was known for its seaside cottages. Hundreds of practical residences played host to coastal drivers like the quaint and rustic abodes at nearby Crystal Cove State Park. Arabella Laguna’s homes are similar to those being restored through the Crystal Cove Conservancy, located a few miles south on the inland side of PCH. Arabella’s elegant cottages were lovingly remodeled to a soft elegance in 2002.

Brimming with unique furnishings and color schemes to match their floral names, the plush rooms burst with personality. In a beach town like Laguna, these cottages and their lush greenery stand out from a sea of surf and mermaid themes. But with Diver’s Cove Beach and Heisler Park just a few blocks away, the Pacific Ocean is never too far away. Arabella Laguna is another landmark in the midst of all the city’s distinct resorts, and a gorgeous reminder of why people love to vacation here.

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Victoria Kertz is a journalist and the co-founder of Third Street Writers in Laguna Beach. She loves local theatre, traveling, and dining out. Follow her on Instagram at @victoriakertz.

Photos by: Grant Puckett.