The Best Boutique Hotels in Santa Monica, Los Angeles

Santa Monica offers a heady mix of city and beach life
Santa Monica offers a heady mix of city and beach life | © Matthew LeJune / Unsplash
Photo of Alex Temblador
26 October 2020

Few places epitomize Southern California as completely as Santa Monica’s combination of city and beach. As far as accommodation, this Los Angeles neighborhood is not short on luxury, and the area’s boutique stays boast everything from beachside spas to noteworthy restaurants. Here are seven of Santa Monica’s best boutique hotels to try on your next LA visit.

Shore Hotel

Eco Hotel
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Courtesy of Shore Hotel / Expedia

While not directly on the beach, Shore Hotel is just across the street from the Santa Monica Pier, which is perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of this boutique property. The turquoise and brown color scheme, and the decor made from local recycled materials, are a stylish take on beach chic, while the fact that the hotel uses solar energy and drought-resistant landscaping makes this one of Santa Monica’s best boutique properties. It shows as much love for its guests as it does the environment, with in-room spa services, balconies with ocean views and a taco joint on-site where guests can grab a bite after hitting the beach.

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Ambrose Hotel

Hotel
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Courtesy of the Ambrose / Expedia
Eco-friendly Ambrose Hotel is all about relaxation. It has a serene Japanese-inspired garden and feng shui decor, and it’s just a five-minute drive to Santa Monica’s blissful beach. While large chain hotels struggle to care for the environment, the boutique nature of the Ambrose allows it to go above and beyond in terms of green practices, with water-saving toilets, bike rentals and access to a chauffeur service in an electric car for destinations within three miles of the hotel. The rooms are spacious, and the luxurious bathrooms come with cosy cotton robes.
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Casa Del Mar

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Courtesy of Casa Del Mar / Expedia
Casa Del Mar has a beachfront location in Santa Monica, which is surprisingly rare in such a beach-centric city, but there’s much more to this boutique property than its setting. Walking into the lobby, guests are met with a sweeping staircase, iron chandelier and stained-glass window, and further in, the soft blue and green decor has been put together by White House interior designer Michael Smith. Rooms have beach views and Italian marble jet tubs, though guests can also choose to relax around the guests-only pool or in the Terrazza lounge for cocktails. Extra LA luxury is on offer in the form of gemstone and diamond dust treatments in the spa and in the restaurant, which serves some of the freshest seafood on the coast.
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Palihouse

Boutique Hotel
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Courtesy of Palihouse Santa Monica / Expedia

Set in a building that dates back to 1927, the Mediterranean revival-style Palihouse Santa Monica mixes historic elegance with quirky touches such as antlers on the walls, armchairs with peach-printed fabric, pink domed pouffes and tartan throws. Some rooms have kitchenettes – perfect for guests who are in town for longer stays – but you may not need to use it, as the restaurant serves impeccable plates of food, made from produce sourced at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.

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Shutters on the Beach

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Shutters on the Beach | Courtesy of Shutters on the Beach / Expedia
There are only two hotels with beachfront locations in Santa Monica, and Shutters on the Beach is one of them. It was designed by Michael Smith, so there’s a sophisticated vibe to the beachy decor, and the hotel has appeared in TV shows such as Entourage. Sometimes it’s the small things that make a boutique property special, and at Shutters on the Beach guests will discover priceless art pieces on the walls by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, an on-site sommelier (one of only 96 master sommeliers in the US), and wooden shutters that open to spectacular beach views.
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Hotel Shangri-La

Boutique Hotel
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Courtesy of Hotel Shangri-La Santa Monica / Expedia

Hotel Shangri-La, built in 1939, is an art deco property just a block from the beach and within walking distance of the Santa Monica Pier and restaurants. The ocean liner-inspired architecture is just one Instagram-worthy aspect of the property, as is the outdoor pool framed by black-and-white striped loungers and pink towels. In the evenings, up at the Onyx Rooftop Lounge, SoCal comes out dressed to impress, but you can also forgo partying in favor of a relaxing day at the spa or a soak in one of the tubs if your budget will stretch to a suite.

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Oceana Beach Club Hotel

Boutique Hotel
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Courtesy of Oceana / Expedia

Oceana Beach Club Hotel offers a mid-century beach house vibe. It’s a quiet and elegant beach vacation spot, and doesn’t attract the party crowds of other trendy boutique hotels. The courtyard pool is a lovely place for a relaxing dip and rarely crowded, while Tower 8, the on-site restaurant, caters to guests with farm-to-table SoCal cuisine. With only 70 rooms, it’s the sort of quiet stay where staff remember your name, and its small size means they can offer extras such as free yoga classes and guided hikes.

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These recommendations were updated on October 26, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.