Since I first wrote this post about the best bars in Santa Monica, I have now had the pleasure of visiting them, plus a few more. This list will grow over time, so keep checking back if you’re heading to this awesome LA beachside town and want a cool place for a cocktail – and most come with priceless views!
1. The Bungalow at the Fairmont has been waiting to burst onto the scene forever! This cute beachside bungalow was a boring (albeit not boring for those sitting in there) meeting space until only recently when it’s location and charm were finally recognised. Now you’ll find an eclectic mix of decor inside including a fireplace and leather suites, to a pool room and little nooks for a quiet te ta te. But it’s outside you want to sit under trees dotted with lanterns with a cocktail in your hand.
2. Viceroy. This unassuming office block of a hotel hides a jaw-dropping chic lobby (with a bar) and an even cooler pool area surrounded by cabanas and high wing-backed chairs. Designed by my girl-crush Kelly Wearstler, I just love what she’s done with a very plain canvas. The cabanas can be booked for private groups, but when I was there they were available so we plonked ourselves in one and chose the charcuterie platter with cocktails. This is a great place to come for dinner outdoors or just start (or end) your evening here.
3. Loews. The best place to come for outdoor beachside, sunset views is to wind your way down here in front of the pool, to where the fire pits are. They have a tantalising cocktails and bar snack menu to while away a few hours with views of the Pier as the sun sizzles into the Pacific Ocean.
4. Shangri La. On the roof of this totally styly art deco hotel is 700 Suite; a wicked rooftop bar with views of the Pacific Ocean right across the road. It’s only a stone’s throw from Santa Monica Pier and a great spot for sunsets. Furniture is made from suiting fabric (yes like men’s business suits) and leather. If the rooftop is a bit breezy go back down to the ground floor pool bar and hang out in a cabana to watch the beautiful people watching each other.
5. Penthouse at Huntley Hotel. Don’t you just love a bar with a Mixologist on the payroll? Say hi to Ryan Magarian and get him to whip you up his specialty drink while you enjoy your 18-storey 360 views from the Pacific Ocean to the Malibu Beach Cliffs and over to Hollywood. Intimate cabanas and fireside hangouts for those chilly LA nights. This is what you call an Ultra Lounge – a signature LA experience. It’s also where you want to come to meet a rich suit, so I’m told.
6. The Lobster on Santa Monica Pier. This place, established in 1923, brazenly promotes itself as being a great location for film shoots with its iconic view of the Pier. It’s famous for its truffle fries (I was reliably told they are best on earth – even described as crack!) The patio overlooks the 100-year old pier with its gigantic ferris wheel and this place is cool with the local celebs for whole Maine lobsters.
7. High at Hotel Erwin is on Venice Beach, where medical marijuana is sold from the “doctors clinics” below. The open-air rooftop is called High. It’s about 200m from the sand and two miles from Santa Monica and has been voted in the Top 20 rooftop bars in America. Views of Muscle Beach make this a great spot for perving, not to mention the cool vibe and the arty techies from Pixar and the like. (Yes geeks can be groovy!)
If you’re planning to stay in Santa Monica, here are 7 really great hotels that I can totally recommend (some are in the list above – and some aren’t!)
AND I was asked to write about one of my favourite LA beaches, so where did I choose? Of course, Santa Monica! Here’s that story on why I like it so much and other bloggers picks for 4 more. Read it here >>
For the full run-down on Santa Monica bars, click here to Santa Monica Nightlife