It’s a bolthole for those escaping the LA bustle, with blissful beaches, a retro-style pier and trademark laid-back vibe, Santa Monica is a tonic for the soul. While it has interesting attractions like the Museum of Flying, the Aquarium, Pacific Park and the Hippodrome, taking a relaxed stroll along Third Street and people watching from a cafe on the boardwalk is hard to beat. The traffic can be intense, so it’s best to hire a bike, roller-blade or walk around town — and if you stay at one of these well-located hotels, you won’t need to get behind the wheel at all.
The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey
An in-house Sisley Spa and prime waterfront setting will ensure you won’t want to leave the confines of this lavish Marina del Ray Ritz hotel. The pool – open 24 hours a day – looks out onto the wharf. For those wishing to stay active, there’s a gym and two tennis courts, with energetic kids occupied by dedicated children’s activities. The AAA Four Diamond resort contains 304 bedrooms (with the top two floors of Club Level rooms proffering the best views) and a restaurant with a trendy terrace area. The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey is just 5 miles from LAX, so ideal for a pre or post-flight stopover.
Santa Monica Proper Hotel
Found on Wilshire Boulevard, this hotel is a short schlep to the beach. The rooftop pool deck (the only one on the Westside) is a feature, along with the Ayurvedic Surya Spa, lush garden terrace and the Balearic outdoor restaurant and bar with its chic cabanas. Earthy tones blend with a Scandi meets mid-century design vibe, that’s accented by creative artworks, murals and indoor palm trees. The Proper Hotel is deeply fashionable, with sushi, oysters, organic juices, biodynamic wines and small-batch mezcals found on the menus. Here you can start the day with a Greek Goddess yoghurt bowl and end it with prime flat iron steak.
Shutters on the Beach
Stars who’ve stayed here include Eva Longoria, Fearne Cotton, Julia Roberts, Christian Bale, Jennifer Aniston and Brangelina. Known as Hollywood’s Beach House, it was also used for scenes in the movie Something’s Gotta Give. Inside, there are artworks by the likes of Hockney, balconied bedrooms with four-poster beds and airy, barefoot luxury decor by one of the Obamas’ favourite designers. Outside, the pool faces directly onto the ocean, with a waterside cafe and bar. Guests can take private yoga classes, borrow bikes, book surf lessons, dine, sip cocktails in the Living Room and indulge at ONE spa.
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
Santa Monica’s main promenade is a short walk away from Loews’ property, but guests can also take advantage of a free shuttle stopping across the city. The property is vast – 347 rooms (well equipped with minibars, 42” TVs, white noise machines, touch-activated mirrors, embroidered robes and balconies) but feels relatively intimate. Its design echoes the natural landscape, with outdoor fire pits adding to the dreamy poolside atmosphere, especially come sunset. Guests can choose from two dining options, bars and an ice cream parlour. It’s a great choice for families, with games and entertainment laid on.