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The Surfrider: A Cult Classic California Motel, Updated for 2018

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The Surfrider: A Cult Classic California Motel, Updated for 2018

September 12, 2018

If The Surfrider looks familiar, it might be because it’s been the backdrop for a few of California’s most iconic moments: The Doors stayed there, it made an appearance in 1966’s surf movie The Endless Summer, and Neil Young had a bar next door for a while. The motel first opened in the 1950s, and its location on the Pacific Coast Highway overlooking Surfrider Beach in Malibu quickly made it a favorite hangout for surfers through the 1960s and ’70s (read more about its storied, and sometimes seedy, history here).

Now the hotel has been reopened by couple Matthew Goodwin (surfer and architect) and Emma Crowther-Goodwin (Australian-born designer) who, together with co-owner Alessandro Zampedri, revamped it in classic California beach style, suitable for 2018 but with plenty of homage paid to its retro roots. “If California could be made into a room, this is it,” they say. Take a look.

Photography via The Surfrider.

The entrance to The Surfrider, with a retro pitched roof.
Above: The entrance to The Surfrider, with a retro pitched roof.
The team had to work within the motel&#8
Above: The team had to work within the motel’s existing footprint and kept the original number of guest rooms (20) but, with zoning assistance from Burdge & Associates Architects, made small but impactful tweaks: Outdoor walkways were moved from the ocean side of the hotel to the back side, allowing instead for private balconies; guest room ceilings were raised for maximum airiness, and an unused attic was transformed into a library. Shown here: the Malibu Suite.
Special attention was paid to texture and materials—woven fibers, teak floors, linen, tongue-and-groove cladding—for a maximally laid-back California vibe.
Above: Special attention was paid to texture and materials—woven fibers, teak floors, linen, tongue-and-groove cladding—for a maximally laid-back California vibe.
A sitting area in one of the suites. The Goodwins wanted The Surfrider to feel less like a hotel, more like a beach house.
Above: A sitting area in one of the suites. The Goodwins wanted The Surfrider to feel less like a hotel, more like a beach house.
Rooms are stocked with Waffle Robes from Parachute and quirky Clay Face Pots, made in Honduras (also available for purchase in the lobby shop).
Above: Rooms are stocked with Waffle Robes from Parachute and quirky Clay Face Pots, made in Honduras (also available for purchase in the lobby shop).
The furnishings are custom designs by two California outfits: Croft House and Malibu Market & Design.
Above: The furnishings are custom designs by two California outfits: Croft House and Malibu Market & Design.
The Surfrider Suite has an efficient kitchenette in marble and tongue-and-groove cladding.
Above: The Surfrider Suite has an efficient kitchenette in marble and tongue-and-groove cladding.
The entrance, with a generous table and woven rug, feels more like someone&#8
Above: The entrance, with a generous table and woven rug, feels more like someone’s dining room than a hotel lobby.
Above L: The small shop in the lobby sells select wares, chosen by the hoteliers. Grown Alchemist products are stocked in the bathrooms. Above R: A hammock on the secluded roof deck, where California-inspired food is available to guests. (The hotel also offers an outdoor shower for post-beach or -surf rinse-offs.)
With balconies moved to the mountain side of the hotel, guest rooms now have unobstructed views of the waves.
Above: With balconies moved to the mountain side of the hotel, guest rooms now have unobstructed views of the waves.
The sign, nearly identical to the original.
Above: The sign, nearly identical to the original.
Also on offer: a fleet of custom surfboards and wetsuit storage.
Above: Also on offer: a fleet of custom surfboards and wetsuit storage.

For another rehabbed hotel with a star-studded Malibu history (also renovated by Burdge & Associates), see Native Hotel: A Laid-Back Malibu Retreat.

Plus, see a few more of our favorite hotels throughout the Golden State:

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