If you’re looking to honeymoon in the United States, look no further than California where you can combine both city and beach with ease! It has all the ingredients of a fabulous holiday: superb weather, beautiful beaches, home-away-from-home hotels, great dining, shopping and nightlife and not to mention celeb spotting opportunities! To whet your appetite, here’s a gorgeous sample itinerary which I followed myself when I was there recently:
A special way to start your trip is to fly from Dublin to Los Angeles with Virgin Atlantic and experience air travel like you never have before on their beautiful new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft:
With more oxygen and moisture in the cabin than any other aircraft, jet lag is reduced. Its large windows can be dimmed with the touch of a button, while its spacious interior is bathed in mood lighting which adjusts to your destination's time zone to help you acclimatise to the time difference before you even land (and it really does). And because it can cruise at a higher altitude than other aircraft, the risk of turbulence is greatly reduced. Why not really treat yourself and upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy (or even to Upperclass)? Just ask us for pricing.
On arrival at Los Angeles airport, transfer to beautiful Newport Beach which lies about an hour away. It is the perfect place to begin your honeymoon; it's rustic yet refined, laid-back yet luxurious and it makes a great place to unwind after the frenetic pace of your wedding.
We stayed in The Island Hotel and I would highly recommend it. Settle into your elegantly-appointed room:
before enjoying a drink at their gorgeous Fireside Patio:
or if it's the weekend, have fun at the hotel’s Aqua Lounge nightclub which is the place to see and be seen in Newport Beach with DJs and craft cocktails. After a good night’s sleep in your supremely comfortable bed, enjoy breakfast at The Oak Grill - their Eggs Benedict is to die for!
Now for what to do to while away the days...
You could enjoy some California sunshine at the poolside:
or soothe both body and soul with a treatment at the spa.
Once you’re feeling more energetic, walk across the road to Fashion Island, Orange County’s premier shopping and dining location with over 200 shops and restaurants:
They have all the big name shops here like Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s in this lushly landscaped, open-air shopping centre. You can avail of their Personal Shopper and Styling Service free of charge or if you don’t fancy traipsing around the shops, they will come to you in your hotel room! There are loads of eateries to choose from in Fashion Island, but make sure you try Fig and Olive at some point during your stay in Newport Beach. Dinner in this French Riviera-inspired restaurant is a special experience.
Alternatively for a waterside shopping experience that’s filled with charming boutiques and independent retailers, look no further than the recently renovated Lido Marina Village. An al fresco lunch at Zinqué overlooking Newport’s pretty harbour, followed by an afternoon of pottering about the pretty shops is a gloriously languorous way to while away the hours:
Of course no visit to the coast would be complete without a visit to the beach and the ones here rank among California’s best. A fun way to visit the beaches of the area and to scope out your favourites is to rent electric bikes (we rented ours from Pedego Electric Bikes) and to take along a picnic lunch. For some added romance, they even have a tandem bike option to choose from which costs $75 to rent for a half-day and offers a unique and fun-filled way to explore the area with no pedalling necessary (unless you want to!)
Along the way you will see that some beaches are punctuated by piers and parks; an ideal place to rest and picnic and where you can indulge in some good old-fashioned arcade games and carnival rides, while others are long expanses of golden sand perfect for sunbathing, while still others offer great vantage points to watch (or perhaps partake in!) surfing. The beach locally known as “The Wedge” has the biggest swell in Southern California.
Another unique way to explore Newport Beach is to rent an electric boat, or a Duffy Boat as the locals call them. You don’t need a license, you can rent them by the hour and they are extremely easy to navigate along the calm waters of the eponymous harbour. From this perspective you can see the beautiful homes that line the waterfront and the multimillion dollar yachts and boats in their backyards. If you are feeling peckish, why not “Dock and Dine” – simply tie up your boat and eat at one of the many local restaurants which have a docking facilities.
While the Island Hotel offers a fabulous base for your Newport Beach holiday, another hotel which you could consider if you are honeymooning after March 2018 is the Lido House Hotel which was under construction at the time of writing this (October 2017). This boutique hotel under the Marriott Autograph umbrella will have a beach-house feel and is being erected in an unrivalled central location in Newport Beach. We had a tour of the site when we visited, and it is going to be seriously impressive in an effortlessly-stylish kind of way, with no expense spared in bringing the project to fruition:
Speaking of The Marriott, the Marriott Hotel and Spa would also make a great choice of hotel to stay in with their beautifully appointed guest rooms and romantic outside spaces like the pretty rose garden and the sunset terrace with its fire pit. We treated ourselves to breakfast there during our time in Newport Beach and what a treat it was! The hotel prides itself on its food in general, and on their sustainable seafood in particular. With a full service spa on site which offers couples’ treatments, and two swimming pools with sun terraces, you could easily spend a lot of your honeymoon simply relaxing on site:
Visit pretty Santa Catalina Island – it’s just an hour away from Newport Beach by ferry, or splash out and take a helicopter there in just 15 minutes! Visit its picturesque town; Avalon, or its spectacularly remote village; Two Harbours. You can stay for a just few hours or even overnight:
Now that you’ve had your relaxing seaside sojourn it’s time to turn up the pace and head inland to crazy, fun-filled Hollywood. Arriving here will definitely come as quite the contrast after laid-back Newport Beach!
There is no better base for soaking up the atmosphere of Tinseltown than Loews Hollywood Hotel; it is in THE perfect location for all your star-studded activities; it’s situated right on Highland Avenue (where the star name plaques are – i.e. The Hollywood Walk of Fame), and it’s next to Hollywood Boulevard, The Dolby Theatre (home to the Oscars), Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (where the famous hand/footprints are) and El Capitán Theatre. Loews has really spacious rooms, and a fabulous restaurant, spa and rooftop pool so if you do want to relax for a few hours, you can.
Our room had a view of the iconic Hollywood sign, of Griffith Observatory and of the Hollywood United Methodist Church which you’ll probably recognise from many films and TV shows.
Speaking of TV shows, while we were there, part of the street outside the hotel was closed off as they were filming Lethal Weapon: The TV show. It appeared to be a painstaking process... We went into the Hard Rock Café to have dinner and when we came out a couple of hours later, everything seemed to be in much the same position! Still it was exciting to see the set-up and apparently it is common to see things like this outside the hotel which adds to the fun!
A must-do activity which is just one stop from the hotel on the metro’s Red Line (and did I mention that the metro station entrance is just outside the hotel too?), is Universal Studios. The park is smaller than its Floridian cousin, and you could probably fit in most of the rides in one day, however only if you upgrade to a Skip-The-Line ticket. It was wonderful to be able to bypass the queues and to not have to stand for hours in the heat. As it’s your honeymoon, you could even splash out and go for the VIP Experience! This gives you your own personal guide to help you make the most of your day, escorted priority access to all rides and attractions, breakfast and lunch in the VIP lounge and exclusive backlot access. Contact us for pricing.
If you want to spend more than just a day in Universal Studios, you could stay in the retro-chic Garland Hotel. This gem of a hotel has a resort-feel and was like a little oasis of calm after coming from Hollywood, plus it’s a truly gorgeously styled place; just check out their gallery! It’s about 15 minutes by taxi from Hollywood Boulevard, though this depends greatly on the traffic conditions. They operate a free trolley service to the metro red line and to Universal Studios and they have loads of cool daily activities. The night we ate there (yes, we did a LOT of eating on this trip…) the restaurant was buzzing with guests, both locals and tourists alike which is a great sign and the food was delicious (sample menu here). This is truly a little gem, and small wonder it is one of our most popular hotels in Los Angeles:
But back to the equally fabulous (just in a different way!) Loews Hotel. You should not miss the opportunity to visit downtown Los Angeles while you are here. Again it’s an easy metro ride from the hotel (about 8 stops depending on what part of downtown you are going to). A fun day here might run something like this. For starters, disembark at Pershing Square and walk to the OUE Skyspace LA. Situated atop the US Bank building, this is California’s tallest open-air observation deck and a wonderful place to view the impressive Los Angeles skyline. From the top of the building (about 1000 feet up) you can do the world’s first Skyslide which is an all-glass slide situated along the exterior of the building; it’s scary but also exhilarating!!
When you get back down to earth, you can lunch at the nearby Grand Central Market (yes, more eating!) The market is the most Instagrammed place in LA and it is easy to see why! It is a melange of beverage and food vendors who serve both ingredients and finished dishes. With about 50 different vendors to choose from, there is something for all tastes and the atmosphere is great to sample:
Once outside again, look up at the US Bank building from below and you will see the Skyslide from a different vantage point. You can now applaud your bravery at having done it..! Cross the street and take the Angels Flight funicular railway the 300 feet it runs up the hill.
Once at the top, walk through the grounds of the Omni hotel and you are now next to two renowned contemporary art galleries: The Museum of Contemporary Art and across the street, The Broad:
We took some time to visit The Broad which was named after philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad whose collection of over 2000 pieces of postwar contemporary art resides here. Most famously (to me) was Andy Warhol’s work. Beside The Broad is the striking Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. It would be worth checking out their calendar of events as it would be an unforgettable experience to attend a show here.
There is so much to do in these parts - it's like having three holidays in one: 1) the beach, 2) the theme parks (don't forget Disneyland is here too!) and 3) downtown. All three parts offer something special and unique which combines into the holiday of a lifetime which is surely what your honeymoon should be!
Written by Samantha Gavigan.