With its famous pier, diverse dining and golden beach, it’s no surprise that Santa Monica is one of LA’s most-loved areas. Stay just steps from the Pacific Ocean with our pick of the best hotels in this coastal neighborhood, bookable with Culture Trip.
Santa Monica pairs laid-back beach vibes with the amenities of a bustling metropolis. Travelers can get scuba certified in the morning, shop the Promenade in the afternoon and enjoy a relaxing night with a Pacific Ocean backdrop. The area also has some of the best oceanside accommodations in LA. From breezy maritime inns to luxury resorts, these are the best hotels in Santa Monica.
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Santa Monica’s Shore Hotel is as sustainable as it is sleek. Its long list of environmentally friendly features includes using solar energy, drought-resistant landscaping, building and decorating with recycled materials, and reducing water waste with low-flow showerheads. Aside from being a green property, it’s just steps from the coveted Santa Monica Pier and blocks away from prime shopping at the Third Street Promenade. Opt for an ocean-view room to wake up looking over the palm-fringed beach, and rest easy knowing you’re doing good for the beautiful environment in front of you.
The Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows is an urban resort that blends relaxation and luxury with the vibrancy of Santa Monica. The 5-acre (2ha) property is settled on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and the lush grounds make patrons feel like they’ve arrived in a tropical paradise. The accommodation ranges from garden- and ocean-view guest rooms to specialty bungalows, and the dining is top-notch. Even for those who don’t choose to stay here, the rustic indoor-outdoor Bungalow Lounge is a must-visit.
The Viceroy Santa Monica is just the right blend of luxury and chic. Its 162 rooms boast ocean views without being right on the water – for an immediate aquatic fix, rent a cabana at the pool. This modern hotel also offers a gourmet dining experience at its on-site restaurant, Cast. And if your travel companion is a furry four-legged friend, fear not: Viceroy is pet-friendly. Recently renovated, the hotel reopened with even more impeccable decor and beautiful finishings, including a revamped pool and a new and improved restaurant experience.
The Georgian Hotel looks like it was plucked from Old Hollywood and plopped onto Ocean Avenue, and in a sense it kind of was. The eight-story, vibrant art deco property was built in 1933 and has been part of Santa Monica history ever since. During Prohibition, its basement restaurant transformed into a bona fide speakeasy, and in the ‘60s First Mother Rose Kennedy spent her summers at the Georgian. Today, the hotel offers a classic option in a city known for its luxury resorts.
Oceana is perfect for guests who love midcentury, retro style – the 1950s building wouldn’t feel out of place in a classic Hollywood film. Its rooms are swathed in greens, yellows and blues, and come equipped with chess and backgammon tables and plants galore. Head to the courtyard pool to sip on an alcoholic milkshake while soaking up the LA sun, and skip the wait at local restaurants and opt to dine at the hotel’s swanky eatery. The produce-focused menu epitomizes Californian dining: fresh, healthy and delicious.
Palihouse is an enchanting Mediterranean-style hotel in a restored 1920s building. Coined as a boutique beach lodge, the 38-room property offers a range of rooms, including two-bedroom suites equipped with full kitchens. The historic building acts as both a hotel and long-stay residence, so you can feel at home on an extended trip with the conveniences of a hotel. Decor combines vintage and midcentury furnishings with villa-style touches such as hacienda tiles and works by local artists. It’s only a mile from Santa Monica Pier, and the hotel can arrange personalized tours of Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.
Found in the quieter end of Santa Monica, Channel Road Inn is a bed and breakfast-style spot, perfect for a peaceful beachside stay. Housed in a renovated Colonial Revival home that was built in 1910, the building has maintained many of its original features and pays homage to its history with cozy rooms, chintzy textiles and fresh flowers throughout. Innkeeper Dominique is a whizz in the kitchen, whipping up both chocolate-chip cookies to offer on your arrival, and wholesome, hearty breakfasts to fuel you up in the morning.
Hotel Shangri-La is an art deco lover’s dream. This historic spot was built in 1939 and nods to Hollywood’s Golden Age with curving ocean liner-inspired architecture. It’s just across the street from the beach and within walking distance of Santa Monica Pier, as well as local shops and restaurants. The 70 guest rooms and 30 suites boast ocean or city views, but the best view of all is from the hotel’s Onyx Rooftop Lounge. With unparalleled vistas over the Pacific, this is a breathtaking spot to sit with an evening cocktail and watch the sun slip below the water.
Stepping inside Santa Monica Proper Hotel, it would be reasonable to think you were in an ultra-chic treehouse. Bedecked in earthy tones, with wood taking centre stage, the decor treads an unusual line between nature retreat and 1970s style, and pulls it all off with sophistication. Located a little ways back from the ocean, away from the tourist hubbub of the beachfront, it’s surrounded by some real local favorite restaurants and shops. It’s worth making time, however, for the three in-house eateries, which include one of the best poolside rooftop dining spots in the city and a restaurant combining ingredients from the Pacific Ocean, LA farmer’s markets and Mexico.
With boardriding ingrained in its DNA, Sea Blue Hotel feels like a true beachside stay. It’s set back from the beach, but the surf is referenced throughout, from headboards made from surfboards to the art on the walls and the soothing blue and white decor. There’s a private courtyard with easy access the beach, and there are thoughtful extras such as free tea, coffee and bananas in the lobby. Be sure to bring your furry friend along for the ride – the hotel is pet-friendly, and with the ocean just steps away you’ll be playing fetch on the sand in no time.
The Huntley Hotel is for travelers who prefer sophistication and luxury over the breezy maritime resorts that are typical of beach towns. In fact, the decor here is the antithesis of most beachside accommodation, favoring minimalistic glamor over bohemian style. Though technically located downtown, the Huntley is just a block from the beach – so you can be swimming in the Pacific within minutes. If you’d rather view the ocean from afar, the 360-degree view from the hotel’s Penthouse restaurant is unparalleled.
Still not found your perfect stay? Check into one of the best cheap hotels in Santa Monica, California, one of Santa Monica’s best boutique hotels or luxury properties, bookable now with Culture Trip. Find the perfect way to spend a day in Santa Monica, and where to go for a hidden adventure in the area. Treat yourself to a tasty brunch at one of the best breakfast and brunch spots.
Want to stay in a stylish hostel right by the Cali sands? See the best hostels in Santa Monica and Venice Beach, and book with Culture Trip.
Molly Codyre contributed additional reporting to this article.
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