It’s been almost eight months since we went into quarantine. What an unfathomable year 2020 turned out to be. It’s been so hard for so many people for so many different reasons.

When we first started quarantining, there was something a bit novel about it. We were forced to slow down, stop the frantic pace of every day and in many ways, return to a simpler way of life. It meant cancelling all of our upcoming travels, which was difficult, but also made us realize how simply we could live our lives at home and still be just as happy. It’s been interesting, challenging and eye-opening all at the same time.

Fast-forward seven months and I was going stir crazy. We have been taking our stay-at-home orders very seriously and have rarely gone out except for the grocery store and some socially distanced time at the beach (OK, and the odd Target run!) But with two little kids at home who aren’t going to school and aren’t seeing friends, it has gotten increasingly more difficult to just be home. We needed a break, a getaway, a change of scenery. I was so sick of looking at my house.

But where? Last summer, we visited Lido House in Newport Beach, a 40-minute drive from Los Angeles and I started dreaming about going back. It was an ideal, first-trip-during-quarantine kind of place.

Our Cottage at Lido House
Lido House is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Autograph Collection is a group of independent upscale to luxury hotels within the Marriott International portfolio. These boutique properties place an emphasis on design and that’s one of the top reasons I love Lido House so much.

When you pull up outside, you get an east-coast-meets-west-coast vibe. The hotel’s exterior has a charming Cape Cod-inspired feel and we were lucky to be staying in one of the hotel’s five stunning cottages. The reason I was so keen to stay at Lido House is because of these cottages. They offer travelers a glorious escape in an environment where you can limit your contact and exposure to others and basically quarantine in a stunning home away from home, with plenty of room for the whole family.

We checked into the seriously gorgeous Balboa Cottage, designed by Grace Blu. It has one king bedroom, two queen beds in another bedroom and two and a half bathrooms. From the moment I walked in, I was blown away by the vibrant design and the pops of color and pattern everywhere. I couldn’t have designed a more cheerful place if I tried. With the difficulties of the pandemic weighing heavily on all of us, this space was an oasis, a sanctuary. I could feel my stress start to melt away. I almost cried. 2020 has been hard and this dose of happiness was just what I needed.

Design Details Inside the Balboa Cottage
The gorgeous design details are, without a doubt, the first thing you’ll notice. From the hand-drawn tile flooring in the foyer to the hand-painted backsplash tiles in the kitchen and the staircase mural featuring Balboa Fun Zone, I was blown away at every turn. The main floor of the cottage has a beautiful, sunlight-soaked banquette lined with boldly-colored cushions, the perfect place to enjoy breakfast or do some coloring and drawing with the kids.

The adjacent living room has a super comfortable sectional and I loved that everything was very kid-friendly. The low, round coffee table allowed me to breathe a little easier and not worry about little heads hitting sharp corners and the navy blue leather couch is easy to wipe clean (as opposed to a light-colored fabric), though thankfully we didn’t need to worry about that!

The kitchen is fully-equipped and it’s a dream kitchen. Dark blue cabinetry, white marble countertops and brass hardware create a fitting nautical theme, perfectly conveying a sense of place. This is the type of kitchen you want to cook in. There’s a grocery store just around the corner and it’s worth picking up some groceries and eating in. For me, this is exactly what I was looking for. The kind of space that felt like home while at the same time, feeling like a getaway.

The main floor was impressive but the second floor continued to impress. Two beautifully designed bedrooms awaited us and the bathroom … with its gorgeous yellow clawfoot tub, it looked like it was straight out of a Normal Rockwell painting, but with every modern amenity you could hope for. The photos speak for themselves. Check them out here:





More to Love
I loved our cottage’s proximity to the pool and cabanas. We opened our back door and we were just steps from the pool. And I was happy that our cottage came equipped with a washer and dryer so I could easily do a quick load of laundry when we got back from the pool. Home away from home? Check, check, check.

COVID-19 Protocols
Because of the pandemic, we have been hesitant to travel, waiting until we felt comfortable to do so in a responsible way. But because of the pandemic, we have never needed a vacation more than now. Lido House gave us great peace of mind. The hotel is operating in accordance with Marriott’s Commitment to Clean guidelines to provide a safe and healthy environment for its guests and has increased cleaning of public areas and high touch surfaces. Masks are required in all public areas of the hotel (Marriott requires all guests to wear a face covering in hotels). All coastal curators are required to wear masks and gloves (gloves where relevant) and they have reduced the amount of seating in all of the on-site outlets like the roof deck, café and restaurant. The pool is still open (we enjoyed a wonderful and relaxing afternoon there) and the number of lounge chairs in the area have been reduced to allow for proper social distancing.

The spa is currently closed and the fitness center is open by reservation (per individual or family unit). In following current state guidelines, the hotel restaurant Mayor’s Table is limiting indoor dining to 25% capacity, as well as dining on its outdoor patio. Thanks to the hotel’s protocols and procedures, I felt comfortable and safe at all times.

RELATED: Marriott Establishes New Protocols to Combat Coronavirus

I desperately needed to get away and our cottage at Lido House was exactly what I needed. We didn’t watch the news and for two days and I felt completely rejuvenated and refreshed, which was the whole point of our trip. And my son felt the same way, too. He burst into tears when we told him it was time to pack up and go home and he’s been talking about our Newport Beach vacation for weeks, ever since we got home. He begs us to go back and so … hopefully we can return sometime soon. Looks like we could all use it!

Natalie DiScala
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