You wouldn’t expect to find an urban chic lifestyle hotel amidst the towering office complexes in the heart of Orange County’s business district. Even when the Hotel Irvine (hotelirvine.com) was recently recommended as an ideal weekend “stay-cation” option, I envisioned a property geared more toward the needs of business travelers. While it certainly does a brisk business with travelers looking for a hotel experience that is the antithesis of cookie-cutter corporate, the Hotel Irvine attracts a surprisingly diverse demographic: business travelers to be sure, but also area professionals who frequent the hotel’s hip bar and expansive lounge, local residents who enjoy the “twists on classic cuisine” offered on the menu at its signature restaurant EATS Kitchen & Bar and families with children of all ages.
The sprawling lobby lounge is characterized by vibrant colors, sleek furnishings and a nine-panel TV used to view multiple sporting events, combined to make presentations or view a movie (as expansive as the space is, a testament to its popularity was the standing-room only crowd both nights the weekend we stayed with all available seating in the lounge and common areas occupied by an eclectic cross-section of SoCal culture from casually dressed dot.com millennials and hip young fashionistas to the more conservatively attired corporate professionals) and hotel guests.
Although we can appreciate the appeal of the Hotel Irvine’s hip, high-energy scene, my husband, Tim, and I fall firmly in the latter two categories.
With two kids under 10, “nightlife” takes on an entirely different meaning these days. We had heard about the hotel’s summer “Movie Night in the Backyard” series and booked a stay with the intention of taking the kids to watch a family-friendly film on the large outdoor movie screen. What we discovered was that in addition to this fun event, the Hotel Irvine’s “backyard” boasts a 6,000-square-foot pavilion dedicated to hosting live music, movie nights and food and wine festivals that will be open to the public throughout the year.
While the kids camped out on a blanket to watch the movie, their parents enjoyed a glass of wine and appetizers at a table nearby. After the film, the kids played table tennis and Tim challenged our son to a game of chess on a “board” spread out on the lawn with game pieces that were easily two feet tall.
The hotel’s literature claims a goal to lure guests who are interested in a “unique, customized experience” and the Hotel Irvine more than delivers. The lobby, restaurants, bar embraces a hipster vibe and although there are 536 guest rooms, each accommodation boasts a “boutique” look and feel. Our room was a super comfortable space defined by a plush, pillow top bed, down duvets and soft linens, a 42” flat screen, Bluetooth speakers and a sweeping OC view.
At this lifestyle hotel, they mean business with a splash of pleasure. “You know those meeting-filled days that turn in to lounging at the pool, toes dipped in the water and sunshine lifting your spirit? That’s our every day at Hotel Irvine. We’re redefining the way you travel with complimentary Wi-Fi, family friendly activities and fresh ways to indulge,” including a 24-hour marketplace with a Starbucks stand and ready-made food (including sushi and salads) that can be delivered to your room. The Club 12 Lounge is an exclusive 12th floor lounge where can relax with residential-style seating and flat-screen TVs, unwind on the terrace as you take in dramatic OC views and enjoy a bevy of personalized amenities including breakfast (served from 6 am – 10 am), evening wine, beer and bites (from 5 pm – 8 pm), premium WiFi for quicker downloads and an Apple computer station with printer to work in style.
Featuring expansive indoor and outdoor spaces, cozy booths and an alfresco patio with fire pit, EATS Kitchen & Bar draws inspiration from all over the world. Chef Jason combines international flavors with local, farm-fresh ingredients to create a menu that is decidedly original and delicious. The signature EATS burger was worth writing home about – and that’s really saying something since my husband is quite the connoisseur (his burger arrived on a brioche bun with bacon, aged-white cheddar, herb aioli and pear jam – wonderful flavors you might not think to pair (pun intended). My steak salad was a equally flavorful, inventive blend of organic greens, chimichurri steak, roasted cherry tomatoes, shaved radish, ciabatta croutons and feta cheese with a sun-dried tomato and basil vinaigrette.
Kids (12 and under) eat free every night during dinner time and our kiddos loved digging into some of Chef Jason’s favorite childhood dishes including chicken strips and fries and penne pasta with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese.
Hotel Irvine is located at 17900 Jamboree Road in Irvine. For reservations or more information, call (888) 230-4452 or visit hotelirvine.com