Few places epitomize Southern California as completely as Santa Monica’s combination of city and beach. As far as accommodations, this Los Angeles neighborhood is certainly 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.
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 elements of this boutique property. The turquoise and brown color scheme, and decor made from local recycled materials, is a stylish take on “beach chic.” Add the fact that the hotel uses solar energy and drought-resistant landscaping, and it’s no surprise this is one of Santa Monica’s best boutique properties. They show as much love for their guests as they do 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.
Eco-minded Ambrose Hotel is all about relaxation. It has a serene Japanese-inspired garden and feng shui decor, plus it’s a quick five-minute drive to Santa Monica’s blissful beach. While large chain hotels struggle to be eco-friendly, 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.
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 guest-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.
The Mediterranean Revival style of Palihouse Santa Monica is the first hint to the elegant stay provided at this Santa Monica boutique property. Set in a building that dates back to 1927, Palihouse Santa Monica mixes historic elegance with quirky touches like 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 – though you’ll hardly need to use it. The restaurant serves impeccable plates of food, made from produce sourced at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
There are only two hotels with beachfront locations in Santa Monica, and Shutters on the Beach is one of them. Designed by Michael Smith, there’s a sophisticated vibe to the beachy decor, so it’s no surprise that it has appeared in TV shows like 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 like Roy Lichtenstein, an on-site sommelier (one of only 96 master sommeliers in the US), and wooden shutters that open to spectacular beach views in the morning.
Hotel Shangri-La is Santa Monica’s resident Art Deco property, just a block from the beach and well within walking distance of the Santa Monica Pier and restaurants. Built in 1939, the ocean liner-inspired architecture is just one Instagram-worthy aspect of this 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.
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 like free yoga classes and guided hikes.