Santa Monica Hotels
700 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
We heard rumors of designer Kelly Wearstler’s lofty goals for the interiors of the Santa Monica Proper, the new hotel from her and Proper Hospitality, the hotel brand led by Wearstler's developer husband Brad Korzen and his founding partners. But nothing hinted at how stunning it would be. Wearstler has designed a breezy, maritime-inspired space that transports you to a seaside villa the moment you walk in. She outfitted the lobby with elements that speak to the coast (a carved front desk that echoes the shape of a seashell, art backed with sand, flooring that gives a bird’s-eye view of a beach umbrella) and married those with bold, eclectic accents (giant archways in Douglas fir and marble and gorgeous ’70s art) that only Wearstler could pull off. The greatest feat here is the synergy between the hotel's two buildings: One is brand-new and sculptural; the other dates back to the 1920s and boasts a vintage patina with gorgeous original iron-clad windows. The aesthetic of the guest rooms varies depending on the building but are all anchored by gorgeous elements—glossy tiles, giant tufted headboards that look like the sunset, bespoke…
Hotel Casa del Mar
1910 Ocean Wy., Santa Monica
If your kids are on the older side and can entertain themselves, the cocoon-like spa at Casa del Mar is tough to beat (the Soothing Waves at Sea treatment uses lavender from Malibu and warm rose stones), and the candlelit terrace is especially mesmerizing for evening drinks. Guest rooms have a similar vibe to Shutters in that they’re light-soaked and stay-forever comfortable with massive beds and bathrooms the size of bungalows. The hotel started as a palatial beach club back in the roaring ’20s, and there’s an old-world LA charm to the place that makes you want to drink champagne, dress for dinner, and pretend it’s 1929 again.
Oceana Beach Club Hotel
849 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica
A pale exterior, mid-century furniture, and a courtyard swimming pool make this 70-room boutique hotel—right across the street from the beachside bluffs at Palisades Park—feel like classic Santa Monica. What sets the Oceana apart, though, are its spacious (and reasonably priced) suites, which include living rooms with queen-sized sofa beds, private balconies, workstations, and well-equipped kitchenettes, making them great for families and extended stays. If you’re going to stay by the beach, Oceana is in a prime location: it’s both a short walk away from the shops on Montana and just removed enough from the chaos of the Promenade. In-suite spa treatments, private yoga sessions, guided hikes of nearby Temescal Canyon, and complimentary Saturday surf lessons sweeten the deal.
1001 Third St., Santa Monica
The concept behind Palihouse (which has locations in West Hollywood and Santa Monica) is genius: Each of the rooms, which range from studios to two-bedrooms, is built for long stays, with a small kitchen and generous living space. So while, like any hotel, you can book them for a few days—the big rooms are especially great for people traveling with kids—they can also be reserved for up to three months. The decor is warm and comfortable, with dark walls, white linens, and mid-century furniture.
1819 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica
Sure, Shutters and Casa Del Mar are right on the beach, but the Viceroy is just steps away: That, and the fact that it’s cheaper and has a much better pool scene (Shutters and Casa del Mar had to elevate theirs, since they couldn’t drop them into the beach) make this a better pick for little kids.
Shutters on the Beach
1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica
Shutters may look like it was lifted straight out of Cape Cod, but a quick survey of the endless sand out front suggests otherwise. Excessively comfortable, elevated beds may make it harder to get up in the morning, but should you manage to get your running shoes on, an oceanside path stretches for miles in either direction. Bike-rental kiosks dot the beach and there’s obviously welcoming surf just a few steps away—it really don’t get much better. The view, the location, the vibe: It's all great, even if some décor elements, like the bamboo bedposts and the heavy mirrors, don't feel very modern.