Shorebreak Hotel, Huntington Beach: Follow the Rules for Fun in California’s “Surf City”

Beach view, Shorebreak Hotel, Hungtington Beach, California

“It is against regulation to have socks on with any kind of sandal.”

If you find yourself in Huntington Beach, California, an oceanfront community that bills itself as “Surf City USA,” you may wonder about proper surf etiquette.

Chill, dudes — the Shorebreak Hotel has got your back.

In every room at this 157-room boutique property, located opposite the city’s broad sandy beach and iconic pier, is a handwritten list of “10 Tips for Surviving Huntington Beach.”

Number 1 is that wearing socks with your sandals is a big no-no. In case you didn’t already know that.

Surfers on the guest room doors, Shorebreak Hotel, Huntington Beach, California

“Yes! All Huntington Beach locals surf every day!”

I may not be the World’s Hippest Mom, but I knew enough to leave my socks at home when my daughter and I spent a couple of late winter days at the Shorebreak. This beach-y boutique hotel lived up to its surfer-cool billing.

Opened in 2009 as part of The Strand, a multi-use development that encompasses the hotel, shops, and other businesses, the Shorebreak carries its surf theme throughout the decor. Photos of surfers — all local residents — adorn the guest rooms doors, while opposite the check-in desk is a wall-sized art installation made entirely of colorful neoprene, the same material as surfers’ wetsuits.

At the street level entrance, a small gallery showcases the surf photos of California artist Aaron Chang. There’s also a rack for storing your surf board, if it’s traveling with you.

Guest room, Shorebreak Hotel, Hungtington Beach, California

“If you get thrown out of your room for partying, the HBPD have plenty of rooms available.”

The Shorebreak draws a mix of couples, groups of friends, families with older children, and business people, and while we did hear people passing through the halls who were obviously having a good time, we saw no evidence that guests typically have to worry about this rule!

The hotel’s most expensive rooms face the beach, which is across the busy Pacific Coast Highway from the hotel. The building is well-soundproofed, with double-paned windows, so the traffic noise didn’t bother us when the windows were closed and the air-conditioning was on.

You definitely do hear the cars whizzing past if you sit out on the beach-facing terraces. The rooms that face the side streets or the interior courtyard would be a little quieter.

The pillow-top mattresses, dressed with Frette linens, are comfortable, and other room amenities include flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, coffeemakers, and mini-fridges. Beach-themed artworks — by local artists — decorate the walls.

Guest room desk and art, Shorebreak Hotel, Hungtington Beach, California

If you have more on your mind than surfing, the rooms all have spacious work desks; the in-room safes are large enough to hold a laptop.

Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel for $12.95 per day. TIP: Join the complimentary Joie de Vivre hotels “Joy of Life” frequent guest rewards program, and you’ll get your Wi-Fi for free.

Although you could easily go for a run or bike ride on the beachfront path, the Shorebreak’s fitness room, equipped with two treadmills, two elliptical trainers, two stationary bikes, and some free weights, is open 24/7. There’s no pool, though, so swimmers will need to head across the street and into the surf.

The hotel’s business center, which has two Mac computers and a printer, is open 24/7, too. The first 20 minutes of usage are free, handy if you just want to print your boarding pass.

Exterior, Shorebreak Hotel, Huntington Beach, California

“Just accept the fact that there is no free parking in Huntington Beach.”

That seems to be true, at least in the vicinity of Huntington pier and the beach area. Fortunately, the Shorebreak has an underground parking garage with valet parking for guests. It will set you back $27/day, but you can take your car in and out as much as you need.

You can even send a text message to the valet when you need to retrieve your car, and they’ve have it waiting for you out front.

Zimzala Restaurant, Shorebreak Hotel, Hungtington Beach, California

“For basic survival needs, such as happy hour, beer on tap, and a killer Bloody Mary, head over to Zimzala.”

The Shorebreak’s Zimzala Restaurant and Bar serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks, and it was particularly busy during weekend brunch and afternoon cocktail hours. While I loved how the dining room, like the hallways, is decorated with photos of local surfers, the most popular seats were out on the terrace, overlooking the street below, with peek-a-boo views of the waterfront.

On weeknights in winter, and daily in high season, the hotel hosts a complimentary nightly wine hour for guests. During this wine hour, or actually anytime, guests gather in an interior courtyard off the lobby, furnished with lounge chairs and several outdoor firepits.

Scads of restaurants and cafes surround the Shorebreak. My favorite spot for a mid-morning coffee was Java Point, a take-out counter inside a nearby surf shop.

Survival tips, Shorebreak Hotel, Hungtington Beach, California

“Pro surfers wear sunscreen. So should you.”

If you’re going to stay in Surf City, the Shorebreak Hotel, where double room rates start at $199 per night, is an excellent choice — a fun lodging with a cool surf vibe. You can also compare rates at and Priceline.

Just remember your sunscreen. And be sure to follow the Surf City “rules.”

Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books, Moon Handbooks: Ontario and Living Abroad in Canada. Surfer and exterior photos courtesy of the Shorebreak Hotel. Other photos © Carolyn B. Heller. I paid a discounted media rate for my stay at the Shorebreak Hotel.

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