For a city that's notoriously difficult for new construction, Malibu is
enjoying a wave of development not seen in a generation. First came Nobu and then Soho's Little Beach House.
Now comes a series of new hotels and restaurants that are breathing new
life into California's poshest beach town. Earlier this summer, Nobu Ryokan
brought a traditional Japanese-style sleeping village to these parts. A
series of 16 suites evolves Eastern design beyond rice paper shutters
and tatami mats via teak soaking tubs and very-private balconies almost
worthy of their $2000-per night price tag and cumbersome booking
process. An Aman this is sadly not, but it’s the best thing here and
you'll pay dearly to stay.
We recently checked out the revamped Malibu Beach Inn, once the only respectable hotel address in town and currently the best value. This elongated seaside compound was recently acquired by LA's Mani Brothers. Since then, the property has undergone a series of upgrades that have touched select guest rooms, reception and lobby. A sophisticated palette curated by interior designer Waldo Fernandez mixes California influenced décor with mid-century and Danish furnishings and pops of modern art. The hum of the PCH is part of everyday life in the beach city, even at the dueling entrances of Soho House (pictured) and Nobu that pit the brash against the entitled. Close-by at the pier the rest of the world coexists as fishermen cast for the night's catch and foreign visitors dine on $20 tofu paella and $16 nachos with homegrown chives from the organic-minded Malibu Farm - a favorite that never disappoints. Across the street, chips are free at the former-Malibu Inn that's now a beachier outpost of Santa Monica’s Casa Escobar.
Up the street, soon-to-reopen Surfrider Malibu makes the most of its PCH address opposite one of the surf world's most famous breaks. Built in 1953, the iconic motel has been reconfigured into a resort refuge of 20 guest rooms and rooftop lounge a la Ace Hotel where laidback surfers can groove with Cindy Crawford's kids. There’s even a vintage Land Rover on staff to drive guests to other surf spots like Countyline and Leo Carrillo Beach complete with surfboards, umbrellas, and fully-stocked coolers. Just up the highway an even more frill-free motel has reemerged as The Native Hotel. This 1947 roadside inn comes with the pedigree of Bob Dylan having written Blood on the Tracks in one of its 13 rooms. But even more impressive, at least to some, is the pop-up eatery of L.A. chef Ludo Lefebvre. His Coffee & Waffles breakfast pop-up is housed in a converted Airstream trailer and offers an elaborate coffee bar and all-day waffles - a concept that truly captures the essence of Malibu.