Staying at the Nostalgic Shutters on the Beach

Created with Shutters on the Beach

Written by: Jessie Geoffray


Published on: April 4, 2024


Shutters on the Beach, which opened in 1993, is what I like to call a certified Santa Monica Institution. It’s a highly subjective and exclusive designation I give only to places that locals really love—as judged by me, a kid from Santa Monica with big opinions. But you know a Santa Monica institution when you’re in one. It must feel, through some unknown alchemy of salt air and California sun, like the quiet beach town Santa Monica was 30 years ago.

In fact, when I’m outside LA, the first thing people often say to me when I tell them where I’m from is, “Oh, I love Shutters.” Themes of these conversations include: the warm and thoughtful service, the roomy soaking tubs, and why they won’t ever choose another hotel in LA.

I stayed there recently as research for our updated goop guides to Los Angeles. Walking into the lobby for the first time in a few years, I was struck—or, really, delighted—to discover that in some ways, it felt untouched by time. The interiors are cozy, inviting but traditional, with beachy influences that never veer into the territory of kitsch. I’ve always appreciated that it’s the kind of hotel lobby you can really focus in, whether that’s on work, a good book, or a conversation you’re having over a drink before dinner. Depending on how the sun hits the water at any given moment, though, you might be distracted by the sight of the Pacific.

You can order from a bar menu in the lobby, but if you’re staying there—or even if you’re just visiting the Westside—it’s worth it to have lunch or dinner at 1 Pico. There are ocean views and, in the winter, a crackling fireplace. It’s laid-back but also somewhere you could go to celebrate something, with great seafood and cocktails and expansive windows.

The rooms are extraordinarily relaxing, with the aforementioned dreamy tubs, charming built-in bookshelves that make each room feel like a coastal grandmother’s guesthouse, and sliding doors that lead to a balcony.

Proximity to the beach is the most obvious perk. On the days I stayed there in February, it rained, a reality for which the staff repeatedly apologized. (I thought this was funny, but you do get the vibe, at certain hotels like this where the service is impeccable, that the staff could actually influence the weather if they tried.) But I was thrilled. I love staring at the beach in Santa Monica when it rains.


Many a great Santa Monica institution has fallen: The original Vidiots, taken from us too soon, became a pet store. The iconic Swingers space on Lincoln has been vacant since 2019. And 18th Street Coffee House, once the greatest café west of the 405, has mysteriously stopped operating. All that to say—it’s important to recognize the greats (however physically small) while we still have them.

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