I love LA!
BUT here’s an astonishing fact… there are 88 cities IN Los Angeles!
We would probably call them suburbs, but on a much grander scale. Many of them have their own tourism boards, local taxes and local by laws. So to say I love LA needs to be exclaimed with a disclaimer: I have not been to all 88 cities.
I have, however, had upwards of a dozen visits to sunny, beachside Santa Monica and that, my friends, is my absolute favourite city in LA. It’s not too far from LAX, has really great shopping on 3rd Street Promenade and more in the surrounding streets. Its food scene is delicious and if you fancy a cocktail at a groovy bar, preferably with sea views have a read of my 7 favourite bars with a view here>
Here are seven hotels I have stayed in and LOVED over the years:
You can’t get any more beach than this hotel! The sand is literally out the front door and because it’s U-shaped most of the rooms afford views over the pool to the sweeping Santa Monica Beach and the Pier, which is about 200m away. It’s designed like I imagine a Cape Cod holiday home would be like. Wooden shutters (nice touch) on your windows, white wooden furniture in your room, comfy chairs and beds that are so high you may need the stool from the closet to climb in (I did!) and a bathroom that opens onto the bedroom for romantic moments – or a bath with a view!
This beachfront hotel is up on Ocean Drive with only the road between you and the sand. It’s the newest hotel in town and is all glass and sleek design. It’s very styly and a pool is smack in front but hidden behind discrete frosted glass from the road. It also lights up blue at night. Location is fabulous for shopping as you’re literally around the corner from Nordstrom and only two blocks from Third Street Promenade with its pedestrianised shopping street. The place to eat is Blue Plate Taco right in front, plonk yourself there with a margarita and bowl of tortilla chips and just people watch.
In a 1960’s former office building, which from the road is blocked by high hedges that seem to want to hide the box-shape hotel behind them. This is the most understated building in town. It looks dead boring, but step into the Kelly Weastler designed lobby with its shabby-chic antiqued mirrors lining the wall behind reception that leads your eyes through to the pool and cabanas and you’ll say wow. Even if you’re not staying here, come for a poolside drink or book for dinner. If you are staying here, you’ll adore the little extra touches.
One of the closest hotels to the wide Santa Monica beach as you can get, Loews is located just beside the famous Santa Monica Pier. I stayed here with my parents and had a fantastic veranda room which I reckon was quite possibly the best room in the house! You enter into the lobby with ceilings as high as the sky and trees soaring up to meet it and your eye is immediately led to the beach through enormous windows and outside. One of the best places for a drink in this town is just below the pool sitting around one of the fire pits and watching the sun set over the mighty Pacific Ocean.
Behind the 100-year old fig tree, rumoured to have been planted in lieu of paying for the hotel room, is the swanky Fairmont Hotel. There are two very different accommodation offerings here: the garden villas which you get to through the lobby and by walking around the pool and garden, and the hotel suites in the main building. I’ve stayed in both and the level of luxury is opulent. But in the last year the former boardroom housed in the bungalow (on the left in my pic) has been transformed into one of the most popular bars in town. (Read my 7 great places to drink in Santa Monica here >>)
This historic hotel sits right on Ocean Ave and is a very short stroll from the shops. It’s one of the closest hotels you can get to the buzz of Santa Monica’s heart, but step inside and the deco decor will cause 1930 fans to have wide, shiny eyes. We stayed here for a couple nights on our honeymoon and really loved the roadside veranda for breakfast or a glass of wine. A great people-watching location – when we weren’t staring into each other’s eyes, that is!
An art deco hotel (actually Streamline Moderne), blazing white and situated enviably on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard, it conjures up the feel of an ocean liner from the street. Inside, the original 1939 features have been respectfully redecorated and the rooms provide amazing views of the ocean. Head to the rooftop for a cocktail at Suite 700 where the furniture is handmade from leather and gentlemen’s suit fabric, or pop down to the ground floor pool and grab a cabana with the beautiful people and just stare at them!