Escape to the beach at Santa Cruz's stylishly refreshed (but still affordable) Hotel Paradox
The pool deck at Santa Cruz's freshly renovated Hotel Paradox (William James).

Escape to the beach at Santa Cruz's stylishly refreshed (but still affordable) Hotel Paradox


Santa Cruz’s hotel landscape has been stagnant for decades, dominated by overpriced midcentury motor lodges and chain motels that are about as enticing as they sound.

But with the debut of fresh renovations at the boutique, 170-room Hotel Paradox this fall, the beloved beach town’s accommodations are finally entering the 21st century.

Hotel Paradox, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s indie-owned Autograph Collection, is a stylish stay that combines the beauty of the Santa Cruz mountains with touches both quirky and clean-lined.

Bookended with sculptural concrete and cascading plants, the reception area revolves around a desk carved from a massive redwood trunk, while in the adjacent lobby, an eclectic assortment of seating—polished driftwood thrones, leather couches, comfy armchairs—is arranged around floor-to-ceiling birch poles. Squirrel lamps, golden rhinoceri tchotchkes, and a wall of skateboard decks add an element of amusement; they’re faithfully doing their duty to keep Santa Cruz weird.

The eclectic, nature-filled lobby at Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz.(William James)

The Hotel Paradox invested herculean effort into the redesign of its restaurant-bar Solaire, into which the lobby seamlessly flows. There’s a sort of industrial-woodsy vibe to the place, with copper Burning Man–esque figures that do backbends over the bar, and metal faces and mossy hummocks that emerge from the ceilings.

The bar, like the restaurant, is indoor-outdoor, with the latter section overlooking the pool. At both they serve Solaire’s full menu, which adds East Asian inspiration to sustainable local ingredients. On their all-day menu, that translates into pork belly bao with miso maple glaze, honey sriracha wings, bulgogi burgers, and macadamia halibut.

Snacks and day drinks like the Manresa mojito and Boardwalk playground (vodka, elderflower liqueur, hibiscus, lavender, lemon, and prosecco) can also make an appearance on the pool deck, which has been tricked out with striped loungers with matching umbrellas, a fire pit, a hot tub, and rentable cabanas.

The generously-sized pool is especially popular with the hotel's younger guests, who splash away from breakfast till bedtime, fog be damned. If that family friendliness doesn’t appeal to you, maybe the pet policy will. With up to two dogs welcome in each room with a $75 fee, there's a constant parade of pups.

Hotel Paradox's redesigned restaurant-bar, Solaire.(William James)

Like the lobby, the guest rooms at the hotel integrate natural elements like reclaimed wood headboards and driftwood lamps. Striped gray bedspreads wrap around the foot of plush beds, and refurbished baths have freshly tiled rain showers. Tech additions include free WiFi, Chromecast, and charging docks. Rooms on the ground floor also have small patios.

There is one thing about the Hotel Paradox that’s still stuck in the previous century even after its renovation, though: its rates. Rooms are absurdly affordable in the off-season, starting at just $118 per night. Even at the height of Santa Cruz summer, an overnight stay can be as low as $203—on weekdays at least—which is about as good as it gets for a nice room during the high season.

Whether you’re escaping for a beach weekend with little ones of the human or fur variety, or in adults-only fashion, Hotel Paradox is a fun place to rest your head that’s miles above the Santa Cruz norm. // 611 Ocean St. (Santa Cruz),

A guest room at Hotel Paradox.(Courtesy of Hotel Paradox)

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