Huntington beach inn
huntington beach inn hotel photo



Huntington Beach Inn Huntington Beach California

Dateline--Huntington Beach, California.  Hilton Huntington Beach was built just as the Huntington Beach Inn met its demise and the owners of the Hilton purchased the land to build another resort, the Hyatt Regency.

I remember when - I first moved to Huntington Beach. Huntington Beach Inn was one of two hotels in this section of the coast south of the Huntington Beach Pier. The other was Huntington Shores Motel. Behind these beach hotels where tourists booked rooms and stayed a few days was a nine hole golf course. Driftwood Golf Course in Huntington Beach is still listed on many websites (over 20 golf sites) as being open in Huntington Beach. The web sites provide a phone number to call and address to visit. Pity the poor traveler who doesn't do their research and learn the place no longer exists, just because they read it on the 'net.

Old Huntington Beach some 30 years ago was laid back. Coast Highway rarely saw a traffic jam. The Aussies and New Zealanders came in droves to stay at these affordable beach hotels such as the Huntington Beach Inn. They came to play soccer or ruby, bringing their entire teams..  They often were stopped by local police as they exited the hotel and drove down the highway the wrong way, forgetting that we drive on the other side in the U.S.

The Huntington Beach Inn was also where surfers such as the O'Neills, Chuck Dent and Robert August met for coffee after their morning set. They could eat omelets, drink a cup of hot coffee and watch the waves. There were no parking fees, and life was easy at the beach. You could live in a room above Jack's for a few hundred bucks.

The Huntington Beach Inn hotel had a loyal, local clientele, but also hosted celebrities and rock stars performing at Golden Bear. Many a famous actor or musician looked at this scene above, and dined at the circular shaped building that was dwarfed by the new high-rise behind it, the Waterfront Hilton, built around 1990.

After dining at this hotel one morning, I briefly sold cocktails at the Huntington Beach Inn, working for tips, of course. My freelance journalism business was just going strong but I needed a bit of extra cash to pay the rent on a shared house near the beach on Balboa peninsula.  Sure there were the guys that pinched you on the butt, or the strange people passing through who claimed they were running from the law, or the prostitutes that slipped in for mid-day quickie with some gent. There were locals who delivered bread, cooked the food and came after a round of golf behind the hotel.

Every evening a singer came in and performed in the little bar at the hotel. She had big blonde poofy hair, her hands and arms dripped with shiny bauble jewelry and zirconium, and she sang the same songs night after night. Her son, who wore white, tight fitting polyester slacks was her guitar musician who accompanied her. The were half Las Vegas and half disco / pop. Each night she opened her set with "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers.

The hotel was in receivership and some guy came in each week or month to check out the place for the city. There was a guy named Sean (had an Irish last name), who managed the hotel. The restaurant routinely ran out of silverware, cash register change and even food as weekend crowds lined up to get in and eat.

There were many memorable customers such as Gary Busey, BB King (gave me $20 tip for a cup of coffee), Mary Kay Place, Randy California & Spirit band, Brian Auger and countless popular acts performing down the street at the Golden Bear. Now that's another story to remember...The Golden Bear.