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The Resort at Pelican Hill is located in Newport Beach, California and was ranked as the top Southern California Resort on the Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards in 2013. In the 2016 edition, the Resort at Pelican Hill dropped to #3 for Southern California. As of now, it holds an AAA five diamond rating and five stars on Forbes Travel Guide.

Don’t You Live In Orange County Though?!

Yes! So, this was my first “staycation”. The idea of staying here came up on a weekend in which my family drove by the hotel. Dad asked, how much is this resort? I said, pretty expensive! Normally, I would see rates around $500 and upwards for the Pelican Hill Resort. I know some of my friends have stayed here on their own birthday staycations, and they said it was a pretty penny!

So, I checked rates for my mom’s birthday weekend in May. On their website it was $325- not as bad as I thought! I then checked Hotwire if there was a “Secret Rate”. Sure enough— $180.

$180 for a 5 star, 5 diamond top resort? AND the basic rooms are already 850 sqft! Perfect birthday present to mom. Booked. 🙂

Currently, for the summer months many rates are over $500. Maybe it will be cheaper again during off season!

How Did You Decode the Hotwire Rate?

Well, it’s the only 5 star in “Newport Beach- Balboa Peninsula Area”! So that’s the main giveaway. To be extra cautious, technically the Island Hotel Newport Beach could qualify, as it used to be rated 5 stars by Hotwire, but THANKFULLY, they downgraded the Island Hotel to 4.5 stars. I use BetterBidding to help decode Hotwire Hot Rates.

And, I don’t feel bad using Hotwire because the Resort at Pelican Hill is not part of a hotel chain. It’s owned by the Irvine Company (who doesn’t have a loyalty program and operates the Island Hotel Newport Beach and Hotel Irvine).

TripAdvisor rates the hotel 4.5/5, and you can match the rating and number of reviews to the Hotwire listing to confirm. Check out reviews for Newport Beach and the resort here on TripAdvisor. You can also book hotels and compare prices among travel websites too.



5: Excellent, Highly Recommend
4: Very Good, Solid Choice to Consider
3: Ok, Check Other Options Before Booking
2: Below Par, Try to Avoid
1: Terrible, Run Far Away

Rooms: 4.75/5
Service: 3.75/5
Location: 4.5/5
Amenities: 4.5/5
Cleanliness: 4.5/5
Sleep Quality: 4.5/5
Value: 4.5/5

QUICK SUMMARY: The Resort at Pelican Hill is a great five star hotel while it may not fully earn the title of “Best Southern California Resort”. The service is a bit lacking, while the large, well appointed rooms are the major highlight of the resort.


The porte cochère is quite large and can fit many cars! For checking in, you have to go to the main building and there is free valet (or self park in the garage). The lobby is quite nice, a bit plain for my taste (I apologize for the lack of lobby photos). The hotel has a Italian/Mediterranean theme.

The standard check-in time is 4 P.M, and I checked in right then. Evan at the front desk helped me out and he said the room was not ready but they would text me when it was ready. For the trouble, he said I’ve been upgraded to an Ocean View room from a Garden View.

I waited about 30 minutes and received the text. Not a bad wait! To get to the room, you can walk from the main building and if you have a car you drive to park right in front of your bungalow! It’s like staying at at a villa. Speaking of villas, this resort has their own type: The Villas at Pelican Hill Resort are located on the other side (opposite of the bungalows) and they have garages per unit! So Bungalows are the more “basic” options and villas are bigger.

The Room:

So, we had an Ocean View Bungalow with 2 Queen Beds. This is the smallest room the resort offers, at a massive 850 sqft. The room feels much bigger than the pictures I have below. The rooms are nicely appointed and very comfortable. The striking high sloped ceilings make the room feel very airy. The room was on par for a 5 star hotel. The bed and linens were very comfortable as well. The fireplace was a nice touch! Interestingly enough the hotel was equipped with a big speaker and many audio/video cables! Yet the TV was averaged sized. Hmm… Well you can have good acoustics at least!

A Nespresso machine was included with capsules as well as a tea maker. The bathroom was nice, except for a few stains on the counter and the very poor quality pop-up magnifying mirror that was sharp and felt cheap.

The view was nice (more like a Partial Ocean to me than Ocean but they don’t have that designation :), and the patio furniture was quite comfortable. I really like the outside patio as it is quite roomy! One weird thing was the sliding doors were broken! There was a gap where it wouldn’t close all the way so technically the door was open all night.

Service And Amenities:

Service was sufficient but not overly great. I emailed the resort before my stay letting them know I would be celebrating my mom’s birthday but it was not acknowledged during my stay. And one day a group of housekeepers were outside and managers came in a golf cart yelling “What are you doing outside, Get inside, Get inside!”. Not really what you want to see….

The pool is really nice at this resort which is why many families are attracted to the resort as well. There is also a pretty large fitness center, and I remember taking pictures but I can’t find them anywhere!

For you golf lovers, there’s a pretty nice course at the hotel. There are also several restaurants at the hotel, but I did not have time to dine at any of them.

There’s a resort fee of $30, and they charge $20 for self parking in front of your bungalow.


The resort isn’t on the beach, but there is a complimentary shuttle to Crystal Cove State Beach. My family and I hiked down to the beach from the hotel (about 1.5 miles each way). I really like Newport Coast as it is my favorite beach suburb in SoCal (okay maybe Laguna Beach is my favorite but I’m gonna just leave it at a tie for now).

The Verdict:

The Resort at Pelican Hill is a nice 5 star resort to escape and relax. Depending on how much you pay will be the ultimate factor in how much you enjoy your stay here. For $250 including taxes and the resort fee, I think it was worth the 1 night birthday-staycation getaway.

You can compare prices for the resort on TripAdvisor here!

Happy Travels,


Have any questions or suggestions for my blog? Stayed at Pelican Hill before? Leave a comment below, or email me directly at! Want to explore more of my posts? See more here, on the TravelUpdate! Follow me on Twitter: @theresorttrvlr and Instagram: @TheResortTraveler