Editor’s Note: As you may know already, I chose to be a “secret guest” at the Montage Laguna Beach recently to report back to my faithful LagunaBeachBest.com readers. See related articles at the bottom of this article.
I love sitting in the Montage Resort’s Lobby Lounge in Laguna Beach. As I tap away on another LagunaBeachBest blog entry on my little Mac Air, a parade of people marches past me, heading to the enormous open slider doors, entranced and enchanted with the open ocean right out there.
Because I live on the same beach as the Montage and have the same views from my own living room, I forget what it’s like to be a stranger to this town and see the Pacific Ocean framed in this fashion. As I sit here, I see people from Brazil, Cape Cod, and Casper, Wyoming make their way to the deck here at the center-point of the Montage Lobby Lounge. Although there are many establishments up and down our coastline that work to show off our beautiful blue sea and skies, the Montage has done a fabulous job framing this memorable picture.
Between the two gentlemen at the top – James Bermingham, the VP and Managing Director of Montage Hotels, and Todd Orlich, the General Manager – someone must have been listening when it was said, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.”
When you first enter The Montage Laguna Beach hotel from the street, this sprawling Lobby Lounge is … well … breathtaking. At the same time, though, it’s terribly comfortable. To one side, you have an enormous fireplace with cushy chairs, couches and small tabletops. And to the other side, you have an opulent bar stretching from one side of the room to the other. Throughout this expansive Lobby, you have more couches, and sinkable chairs around low-slung tables. And, if standing in awe at the ocean-side balcony isn’t enough, you’re welcome to grab a table and chairs at the patio, which sits just to the right of the front-and-center balcony.
I love the Lobby Lounge at the Montage because its staff treats royalty, dignitaries, guests and local schlepps like me all alike. (In fact, Michael and Toni, the husband-wife team of the fantastic Café Zoolu in Laguna Beach, normally pull up the same chairs at the bar every Monday night because it’s approximately where their living room used to be when they once lived at the Treasure Island Trailer Park years before the Montage began building.)
While I never want to impose or overstay my welcome, I’ll often trot up to this renowned Laguna Beach hotel’s Lobby Lounge in late mornings and early afternoons to simply sit, observe and bask in the flow and vibe while writing yet another column for this blog o’ mine.
While there are any number of languages moving around this Lobby at one time, and while there’s really no rhyme or reason to sudden swells in thirsty patrons, the servers are sophisticated, friendly and fast. No, the drinks aren’t cheap, but I’ve paid similar prices at other restaurants and bars in Laguna Beach that don’t have anything close to the view or cosmopolitan energy of this great place. While I favor the Montage Lobby Lounge’s Cucumber Cooler, the Lounge bar reads like a small phone book –
- 20 wines by the glass,
- 22 beers from every point of the globe,
- Full, single pages devoted to vodka, whiskey and single malts (including the 25-year Macallan at $100)
- Rum, gin, tequila, cognac (read: Hardy’s Perfection at $850), brandy and port in profuse assortment and offered in mixed drinks or straight,
- And a large assortment of specialty drinks, martinis, margaritas, etc.
With live piano music in one corner, a roaring fire in the far corner, and a wealth of some of the most interesting people you’ll see and meet, it’s no wonder the Montage Lobby Lounge is a favorite for local Laguna Beach residents, too.
For related articles I’ve written about the Montage Laguna Beach, see:
The Montage Laguna Beach: Weekly Wine Tastings (for guests and locals alike)
© 2011, Diane Armitage, www.LagunaBeachBest.com