Santa Monica Beach is one of the most appealing places in Southern California. The beach itself is terrific with more than three miles of golden sand. You can surf, bike, sun, or ride the Ferris wheel. And there’s great shopping and restaurants along Ocean Avenue and at the popular 3rd Street Promenade.
You’ll find Art Deco hotels that date from the 1920s, bungalows, and luxurious, ocean-front resorts where guests want for nothing.
Cal Mar Hotel Suites
Two blocks from the beach in a relatively quiet neighborhood, Cal Mar Hotel Suites were built in the 1950s as apartments.
Units have living rooms, separate bedrooms, and full kitchens. There’s a pretty courtyard, a heated swimming pool, and an off-site fitness center. It’s very close to the shops and restaurants of the 3rd Street Promenade, or you can save money by eating in. For the location and amenities, it’s a good value.
Casa del Mar
Across the street from sister property Shutters on the Beach, Casa del Mar is in an old Art Deco hotel from the 1920s. Rooms are very luxurious with period pieces like four-poster beds and big, Italian-marble bathrooms. And most have ocean views.
The two-story penthouse suites are some of the nicest – and most expensive – accommodations in Santa Monica. Guest can enjoy the spa, a cabana on the fifth-floor pool deck, or the beach. The ocean-front seafood restaurant, Catch, scores rave reviews, and there’s an inviting lounge on the veranda.
Channel Road Inn
A member of the Four Sisters Inns group, Channel Road Inn will appeal to bed and breakfast fans. The 15 rooms are located in a 1910 house in a residential neighborhood near the beach. The staff will hook you up with a bicycle or a beach chair.
The downstairs living room has a beautiful fireplace with Batchelder tiles. Rooms are individually decorated, and some have fireplaces or whirlpool tubs.
There’s a hot rub and you can arrange for an in-room massage. A full breakfast and afternoon wine and cheese are included in the rate. Conde Nast Traveler recently named this the top B&B in Los Angeles.
Originally built in 1924, the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows offers a variety of accommodations in two towers and 32 bungalows. It’s a short stroll to the beach or the promenade. Rooms in the towers have beautiful views. Those in the ten-story Ocean Tower have balconies.
But the bungalows, which were built in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, are the place to stay. Equipped with every conceivable amenity, these min-residences include butler service. There’s a health club, spa, and outdoor pool. Fig, named for the giant tree in front of the entrance, serves expensive French food.
The Georgian first opened in 1933, and it still has a lot of charm. The Aqua and bronze hotel would be equally at home on South Beach. It’s located right on Ocean Avenue, and the lobby and veranda have great views of Santa Monica Beach, across the street.
The rooms still have Art Deco accents but a 2007 renovation brought flat-screen TVs and docks for MP3 players. Rooms on higher floors have the best views. Guests can have breakfast or lunch at the restaurant on the veranda.
If easy access to a top-notch spa is an essential part of your vacation plans, book a stay at Le Merigot.
In addition to services at the 6,500-square-foot spa, the packages available here might include a Porsche Boxster convertible or some surf lessons.
The 175 guest rooms have pillow-top beds, big TVs, and ocean views. Many have terraces. There’s also an outdoor pool with cabanas and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
Cezanne, the hotel’s French-inspired restaurant, is popular. Le Merigot is less expensive and more laid back than many of it’s neighbors.
Travelers who like a boutique hotel will enjoy the 70-room Oceana. Recently redesigned by Chris Barrett, the rooms are bright, lighter, bigger than most and tricked out with two plasma TVs and work spaces with desks. There’s a hip lounge, a restaurant with a menu created by Jonathan Morr, and a well-equipped fitness center. The pool is on the small side, but there’s WiFi access so you can work out there if duty calls.
Shutters on The Beach
Shutters on The Beach looks like an old Cape Cod resort, but the similarity ends there. It’s California, through and through. If you can afford it, the ocean-front location and luxurious rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, huge bathrooms, and balconies, are best in class. You’re very likely to see celebrities in One Pico, the hotel’s contemporary restaurant. And there’s a heated pool, fitness center, and Jacuzzi, if you can ever tear yourself away from the room. The first time you throw open the shutters on your windows, you’ll say “pinch me.”