Hotel Guide: Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort
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Just as Huntington Beach blends laid-back surfer vibes with the upscale, pristine aura of greater Orange County, the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort combines the two aesthetics — just steps away from the iconic Huntington Beach pier.
Modern touches include Peloton bikes in the gym, but neon and bright floral art help make you feel like you’re in the 1960s, when artists like The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean sang about the city. With sweeping ocean views, it feels luxurious yet far from frilly. Family-friendly amenities like complimentary boogie board rentals and s’mores kits don’t feel out of place, even for couples seeking a romantic escape.
Shorebreak embraces the push and pull of new versus old. Just look at the Bluetooth-enabled record players in every room. That’s one of the many touches that help the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach stand out in a crowded landscape of beachfront boutiques. Amenities are aplenty, but the nickel and diming is practically nonexistent (save for pesky resort fees).
Here’s our review of Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort, so you can see if it's the right place for your next Southern California getaway.
About the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort
The Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort opened in 2009, a relative newcomer to a city with decades of surf culture history.
Huntington Beach was only recently named Surf City USA (at least officially), after a heated, yearslong legal battle with another California surf town, Santa Cruz. That battle transpired during the same time when Huntington Beach underwent a facelift transcending far beyond a new moniker.
In 2004, Huntington Beach started building Pacific City, a massive outdoor shopping mall that now hosts an Equinox gym and high-end restaurants. A few years later came another major development project, The Strand, a multi-use project downtown with shops, restaurants, offices and the Shorebreak Hotel — a 157-room luxury boutique hotel, operated then by Joie de Vivre Hospitality.
Ownership of the hotel has since changed hands and it is now the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort, which is part of the IHG One Rewards program.
Booking the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort on points
Now that it’s in the IHG family, you can redeem IHG points for free overnight stays at the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort via the IHG One Rewards program.
IHG uses dynamic pricing, so points rates can vary by day. But award nights at the Shorebreak typically run between 69,000 and 120,000 points.
Whether you hold either the $0 annual fee IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card or the $99 annual fee IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card, your fourth night is free when you redeem points for a consecutive four-night IHG hotel stay. That’s an effective 25% savings on four-night points bookings when you hold an IHG-branded credit card.
The hotel’s lobby is located on the building’s second level. To get there, you’ll pass through the ground floor bike and surfboard storage area, which serves both a utilitarian function, while also setting the vibe for the experience ahead.
Ascend the stairs (or elevator) to the lobby, which feels playful yet mature. There’s fruit-infused water, and sometimes complimentary coffee or adult beverages, depending on the time of day. Lobby activities include a Pac-Man game, a human-sized chess board and a foosball table.
The hotel’s aesthetic is bright and funky. It exudes the relaxed, laid-back Huntington Beach style, but is also impeccably stylish. Neon light signs near the elevator spew phrases like “Stay Wild.”
Rooms are playful, mostly decorated with bright blue accents.
Some rooms have ocean views, while others overlook the courtyard. Though, the cheapest rooms often have less-than-ideal views. Some rooms, like mine, rightfully claim a partial ocean view, but that’s only the background to a few neighboring buildings that are more shabby than chic.
Standard rooms are relatively small, but pack in enough amenities. Rooms include writing desks for folks working while traveling, plus large showers (some have soaking tubs). Lather in Atelier Bloem bath amenities, and dry off in Italian Frette bathrobes and linens.
If your trip is pegged around spending maximal time on the beach, the location is ideal given its placement at the heart of downtown Huntington Beach.
It’s a five-minute walk to the famous Huntington Beach Pier, where you’ll find Duke’s, the seafood restaurant named for the surfing legend who helped bring surf culture to Huntington Beach.
It’s also walkable to Pacific City for more shops and restaurants.
How to get to Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort
As far as nearby airports, you’ll likely fly into John Wayne Airport or Long Beach Airport, both of which are usually less than a 30-minute drive.
Depending on your plans, you may or may not want a rental car. Valet parking costs $45 per night plus tax. (There’s no standard parking option, and there’s no free airport shuttle either.)
While the location is walkable to most of Huntington Beach’s main attractions, getting around the other Orange County cities is trickier — or at least more expensive. Public transportation is pretty abysmal, though rideshare services are available.
It’s relatively easy to book shuttle services to big tourist destinations like Disneyland (a roughly 30-minute drive).
Food and beverage
The hotel’s onsite restaurant is called Pacific Hideaway, offering both indoor and outdoor seating (with pier views). Much like the rest of the property, it’s an upscale restaurant with a casual vibe. The cuisine is influenced by Latin American and Asian flavors, with items including Lao sausage lettuce wraps, and turmeric roasted cauliflower with chipotle hummus and macadamia crumble.
I skipped the restaurant in favor of a meal at Duke’s instead. As a Hawaii travel nerd, I’d feel remiss to go to Huntington Beach without noshing on a slice of Kimo’s Hula Pie. But I did take advantage of Shorebreak’s complimentary refreshments, which are aplenty.
Wake up to complimentary morning coffee and tea service — which isn't just any drip coffee but rather cold brew, coffee and your choice of flavored syrups. In-room Nespresso machines are available upon request.
There’s an evening social hour at 5 p.m. daily, including complimentary alcoholic drinks. Even nonalcoholic drinks are served in fancy glass bottles. Then, there’s a DIY food activity: s’mores making. Guests can grab kits including skewers and marshmallows, which can be roasted over the fire pits on the hotel’s outdoor deck.
Aside from the coffee, evening social and s'mores, amenities are generous (though there's an annoying $40 plus tax resort fee).
You have free use of bikes, which you should certainly use to cruise the bike path that straddles the Pacific Coast Highway and the beach. Kids have access to custom-designed Micro Kickboard scooters (along with Nutcase helmets).
Beach amenities include use of beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, boogie boards, kids' toys and coolers. If you bring a surfboard, there are storage lockers.
Even gym skeptics may have a hard time passing up the on-site gym, which feels more like a playground. The conventional gym equipment is top-of-the-line, including a Peloton bike, kettlebells and medicine balls.
There’s a squat rack, barbell and bumper plates — a rarity in hotel gyms.
Perhaps most delightfully is the 40-foot wide climbing wall.
Kimpton’s pet amenities
As is the case with all Kimptons, which rank as NerdWallet's top hotel brand for pets, pets can stay for free with no deposits or fees. There are no restrictions on weight, height or types.
Guests have access to Wag! Premium during their stay, which is a membership program for pet services such as dog walking and 24/7 access to licensed veterinary professionals. While service usage typically incurs an additional fee, Kimpton makes coordination pretty easy (e.g. helping guests book dog walks and coordinating key handoffs at the front desk with your dog walker).
While Kimpton is ultra pet-friendly, it’s also friendly to the pet-averse (and allergic). Kimpton Shorebreak offers pet-free, allergy-free rooms upon request.
The record library
Perhaps the most unique amenity of them all is a record library. Given that each room comes equipped with an in-room record player, guests have access to the hotel's vinyl library. Alas, the record player in my room kept skipping. I didn't bother to ask for help, though I'm sure the staff would have replaced it if I did.
Is the Kimpton at Huntington Beach worth it?
While points rates vary, the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort can be among the priciest redemptions in the IHG One Rewards portfolio. Cash rates are also widely variable, with nightly rates at about $300 per night (including taxes and fees) on slow days, but north of $700 for a basic king room on peak nights, like Fourth of July weekend.
NerdWallet values IHG One Rewards points at 0.7 cent each, so run your own calculator to decide if it’s better to book your stay as cash versus points.
The Shorebreak property is among the more expensive in Huntington Beach. It has many similarities to the Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel. Both have similar price points and are family-friendly (made perhaps most evidently by the water slide). Also nearby are the Paséa Hotel & Spa and the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort And Spa (part of the World of Hyatt), both of which typically command far higher price points and exude vibes that lean refined rather than retro. Head inland if you’re looking for lodging on a budget.
As far as who the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach is best for, there are a few types of people:
Folks who prioritize walkability: If you’ll spend most of your trip on the beach, bar-hopping downtown, wandering the pier or biking down the coast, the location is ideal. But if you’re driving around Orange County, you might choose a more central location (with less expensive parking rates).
People who use all the amenities: The $40 nightly resort fee is irritating, but at least it covers delightful amenities like tasty s’mores kits, an epic rock wall and beach cruiser bikes. If you don’t care for (or just don’t have time for) those things, then this property might not provide maximal value. But if you intend for a leisurely trip where you can partake in most of the amenities, the fee might be worth it.
Pet owners: Kimpton’s pet policy is unbeatable. The average hotel pet fee is $81.60, according to a NerdWallet analysis of pet policies for U.S. hotels with check-in dates in 2023. Considering this hotel doesn't charge for pets, that alone can be huge savings.
Someone seeking a laid-back but still luxurious experience: Much of the Shorebreak experience feels like summer camp. But unlike most summer camps, this is a pristine property with carefully curated details, funky art and retro touches. Just give it a rest if the record player doesn’t work.
(Top photo by Sally French)
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