Hotel Irvine- For the Modern and Connected Traveler
by Jake Conlee
I can appreciate the different and interesting when it comes to travel. I can appreciate tradition and nostalgia, but I can really recognize when history becomes the future. Hotel Irvine has done just that. Formerly the Hilton and then Hyatt, which I was accustomed to as a youth; my family would have Easter Brunches here throughout my childhood. I can vividly recall the stark and sterile look of the previous properties in their incantations, stuffy, conservative and relatively boring. Albeit, very nice and upper crust, but still boring, nevertheless. No longer is this property boring, conservative and plain looking. The senses are encompassed by vibrant and rich colors, sleek textures, pleasant smells and an almost tactile energy. It would seem that late check ins are my forte, but even at 11pm, the lobby was alive with the sound of music, the buzz and energy of beautiful people socializing over drinks.
Tiffany greeted me at the front desk area and to say she was pleasant would be an understatement, she was downright delightful. As was Emily. Check in and check out were very easy processes and the staff was extremely well trained on delivering the highest levels of customer service.
I didn’t quite understand why everyone on staff encouraged the use of Marketplace. Which is the in-house grab and go store on the first level, but after checking in and exploring further, the reason was crystal clear. I don’t think that I’ve ever stayed at a property with a better general store than Marketplace. Hot and cold food, 24 hours a day. 12″ baked to order pizzas for $7, fresh, cold deli sandwiches for $3, an assortment of wines and drinks, with a bevy of locally sourced artisan snacks. I would love this store apart from the hotel. Marketplace is nothing short of incredible. Oh, and PS. It is not room service, it is delivery, if there is anything that you need from Marketplace or EATS, the smiling staff will bring it directly to your door. For the amount of traveling I do, it is easy to find a weekend stay to be moderately underwhelming, and I am having to dig and mine for what is good about a property. Not Hotel Irvine. I was literally punched in the face with amazing service, amenities and food. I didn’t have to do digging, I was practically tripping over the good things to be found around the property. The breakfast is shockingly good, and with the room that we had reserved for the weekend, there were three hot selections to add. The corned beef hash is hearty, spicy, full of flavor and goes great with over easy eggs. The thick cut bacon is almost the thickness of a steak. The country potatoes have a great kick to them, and if there is something missing from the cold breakfast buffet that you might like (bagels with no sesame seeds) then just ask. Service is top notch and the attentive and smiling servers will even refill your drinks for you, when you can simply walk up and get it yourself. Still very, very nice to get the service.
The pool area is great, lined with lounge chairs and cabanas, there is even a snack bar, and some great poolside games. Ping Pong table and Giant Connect Four are free to use while playing in the pool area. There is a Jacuzzi hot tub to the back and is great for relaxing. I probably shouldn’t say this, but there is a slightly lackadaisical approach to pool curfew, but it was nice to relax after the crowd had subsided, even if it was a bit after the 10pm closing time.Life on the 14th floor. Life on top is always great, especially when there is a panoramic view involved. Glass elevators soar upward from the lobby and push you out into the night, offering an insanely good view of Irvine and beyond. The room was number 1445, which I highly, highly, highly recommend requesting. Two full bathrooms, two furnished balconies, plush California king bed, two 42″ HD TVs, mini fridge (not mini bar with things I don’t want at prices I don’t want to pay,) USB Ports for charging, Dining room and sofa sleeper with tons of pillows. The room was on the larger side of 1000 sq ft, and I can appreciate the space; I can REALLY appreciate the space.
The King-sized bed is extremely comfortable and I found myself waking up thinking that I was at home. The kitschy bell alarm clock was a neat touch. The swiveling TV is a super awesome bonus, as well. For having a 180 degree view of the surrounding areas and panorama of the 405 freeway, the freeway sound was non-existent. It was a true escape from the cityscape below.
Hotel Irvine is in close proximity to just about everything that you would want to do in Orange County. Corona Del Mar- 15 minutes, Fashion Island- 10 minutes, South Coast Plaza- 5 minutes, John Wayne Airport- 5 minutes, Irvine Spectrum- 10 minutes, Disneyland 20 minutes, super easy freeway access to anywhere and only 7 minutes from IKEA.I would suggest dining options off-site, but then I decided to have dinner at EATS Kitchen & Bar. This is a remixed gastropub with a very inventive and adventurous chef at the helm. Jason is his name, and flavor is his game. I would like to elucidate further, but I had such a great experience at EATS, that they stand to get their own review. I had a selection of lighter fare, but let me tell you, the flavors were incredible and complex, the food was beautiful and hearty, fresh and vibrant. The three must try dishes are the Steak Salad; artisan greens, sun dried tomato and basil vinaigrette, feta cheese and the most tender sirloin imaginable, The Tasmanian Sea Trout, crispy skin, Beluga lentils, cara cara orange beurre and the mac and cheese- cheesy, crusty, bacony, amazing.
Hotel Irvine has given me a new curve to grade other properties. Hotel Irvine is the smartphone of accommodations in Orange County, it has everything you need, and a lot of items you never thought of. If you had told someone 15 years ago what this property would offer today, their head would explode. I love it when the bar is reset. Hotel Irvine has done just that, they have set the bar, and it is very high.