May 6, 2019

7 great Santa Monica bars

If you like a cocktail with a view and want to know some very cool spots for a drink in LA, here are my top picks for Santa Monica bars.

Bar with a view in Santa Monica
Peeping at Santa Monica pier

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 Hotel 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 when its location and charm were finally recognised.

Bungalow bar Fairmont Santa Monica
I love this bar with ocean views across the road!

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 with Pacific Ocean views you want to sit under trees dotted with lanterns with a cocktail in your hand.

2. Viceroy. This unassuming former office block-now-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.

Viceroy Santa Monica pool bar

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 hotel to come for dinner outdoors or just start (or end) your evening here in the great bar ambience.

3. Loews. This is the best place to come for an outdoor beachside bar with sunset views. You’ll walk through the hotel lobby and wind your way down here in front of Loews pool, to where the fire pits are.

Loews beach front bar Santa Monica
Head outside and grab a seat around one of the fire pits as the sun sets over the pier!

They have a tantalising cocktail list and a delicious bar snack menu to while away a few hours with incredible breach front views of the Santa Monica’s 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.

Shangri La bar LA
Shangri La’s rooftop with Santa Monica pier in the distance

If the rooftop bar 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 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.

Huntley penthouse bar Santa Monica
The Huntley penthouse bar and restaurant

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 delicious seafood restaurant, established in 1923, is one of our favourite places to dine in Santa Monica and we bring our friends here for amazing lobster, crab legs and everything in between. It brazenly lauds itself as being a great location for film shoots with its iconic view of the Pier.

The Lobster Santa Monica
The Lobster with absolute beach front views

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 Santa Monica 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 aptly called High.  The hotel is about 200m from the sand and two miles from Santa Monica and it has been voted in the Top 20 rooftop bars in America.

High bar at Erwin Venice Beach
Party on the roof at the Erwin!

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!) Sit in front of the flaming gas heater and watch the sun set. Sublime.


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

About Megan Singleton

Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!

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