The location: The Mermaid Inn.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A cheap motel (with the statue of a mermaid on top), used by Newport's wealthy as a rendezvous spot for their illicit affairs, and by the visiting non-wealthy as an inexpensive place to stay.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Ryan refers to it as "that motel by the pier", so, no doubt, it's supposed to be in Newport Beach.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. Beginning in Episode 20 (of season one), "The Telenovela", the motel was used by Luke (Marissa's ex-boyfriend) and Julie (Marissa's mother) when they had a brief tryst there (in room # 205). Theresa (Ryan's ex girlfriend) stayed right next door (in room # 204).

    The Mermaid Inn popped up again in Episode 21 ("The Goodbye Girl") when Theresa & Ryan ended up sleeping together at the motel (and may have conceived a child). The Inn was seen again in Episode 22, "The L.A.", when Julie was spotted kissing Luke there.

    In season two, the motel was seen in Episode 20, "The O.C. Confidential", when Julie met her old pornographer friend, Lance Baldwin, there - after Caleb failed to pay off his blackmail demands.  (Not to be confused with Lance's other digs, the Sea Sprite motel.)

    And the motel showed up once again Season 3 (in Episode 5, "The Perfect Storm"), when Seth & Summer used a fake text message to lure Taylor into a pretend rendezvous with Dean Taylor in room 7 of the Mermaid Inn, and then blackmailed her into telling the truth about the illicit affair she was having with the Dean.  Sandy then used the info to force the Dean into reinstating Ryan at the school.


Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A perfectly decent beach hotel - which is significantly larger than it looks on the show.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. "The Mermaid Inn" is actually the Beach Plaza Hotel, at 2010 E. Ocean Blvd., in Long Beach, CA.

    It's perched on a cliff at the west end of Bluff Park - a long, narrow grassy park which runs along the cliffs overlooking the beach on Ocean Blvd., Long Beach's picturesque coastal route.

    For the show, they made the hotel look much smaller than it is by shooting only the small east end of the hotel (where the office is).

    In real life, there is no tacky mermaid statue on top, and of course there is no sign reading "The Mermaid Inn". So the hotel isn't that easy to recognize in person. You have to go to the hotel's east end, take a close look, and notice such details as the neon "OPEN" sign in the office window... (I shot the photo on the right in 2006, and it gives you an idea of what the east end of the hotel looks like without the added decorations.)

    Here is a map link to the hotel's exact location.

    The hotel is almost directly above the stretch of beach seen in the episode called "The L.A.", where the kids ran into the crew of "The Valley", filming their TV show on the beach. And it's only a few streets south of Lindsay's home. And not far from Shoreline Village.

    [Update 2007: I drove past the hotel recently, and they have painted it white (or perhaps a very pale green)! So it's no longer as recognizable as it was when it was that familiar shade of blue. Look for the Beach Plaza Hotel sign instead...]

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. This was fairly easy. I've always enjoyed driving along Ocean Blvd, and this blue hotel is somewhat memorable. At first, the mermaid statue on top threw me (that, and the fact that they hadn't previously used Long Beach as a location - so I was expecting it to be in the South Bay). But when I saw a glimpse of blue ocean in the background, and a patch of green grass as well, it dawned on me. So I printed out a screenshot of the "Mermaid", drove down to Long Beach, and made the visual match.

Update: In 2012, a fan, Adam, sent me this photo of the Inn, in its now-white color scheme:

Update: Alas, in Feb. 2014, it was reported that the Beach Plaza Hotel had shut down,
and they were planning to demolish it and replace it with another building.

In May 2016, a fan, Henrik Larsson, sent me a photo of the location,
which, as you can see, is now just an empty lot, surrounded by a chain-link fence.

(Thanks, Henrik.)
(Click on the photo to see larger version)

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