Santa Monica Travel Guide
If bartenders these days are to be believed, Prohibition was not the dangerous, skeevy, Mob-controlled booze era that history books and Hollywood movies have shown us. No, no – cocktailing during Prohibition was sexy and elegant, and when a bar today really wants to prove its mixology credentials, it rolls out a special Prohibition cocktail menu. The latest one to do so is The Georgian, Santa Monica’s distinctive Deco hotel and former hangout of Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and other Hollywood greats.
This is the scene these days on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica and as you can see, The Viceroy Santa Monica is right in the thick of the construction zone (without having any work done to its own building.)
The construction, which has made this stretch of Ocean Avenue from Pico to Colorado a pain to get through, is all for the Ocean Avenue South, a luxury apartment project from Related Companies, with 318 residences as well as retail, restaurants and walkable plazas. The sales launch for the units should launch this summer with construction going for at least a year beyond that.
Which means that the entire north side of the Viceroy looks out onto a building site and much of its entrance is slowed down by the traffic caused by this annoying scene. While the Le Merigot Hotel and The Loews Hotel also have to put up with ugly construction views, at least their properties are across the street from the actual jackhammering.
Fortunately for the Viceroy, the noise doesn't seem to be bothering too many guests. All of their recent TripAdvisor reviews are really positive except this one which said the construction made it hard to enjoy being outside by the pool. The hotel's director of rooms wrote that work is "expected to lessen."
We sincerely hope so.
Rates this weekend start at around $300.
Oceana Santa Monica General Manager, Christoph Moje
Have you ever flirted with a hotel concierge? In our series, Concierge Interviews, HotelChatter goes behind the Front Desk and gets chummy with the men—and women—whose job it is to never say no. Got a burning question you'd like us to ask? Or have someone in mind for us to interview? Email us your requests!
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Last week, we gave you our full review of Blue Plate Taco, the scene-y Mexican restaurant attached to The Shore Hotel. Despite reading constant positive reviews about this place, we were a little underwhelmed by the so-so tacos and poorly mixed cocktails.
Suffice to say, we were a little disappointed. However, there's still one (major) part of the experience that we haven't gotten to yet: our stay at the hotel itself!
We booked a Garden View Junior Suite, which, as the name implies, doesn't actually face the ocean but rather a small ground-floor patio tucked around the back of the hotel.
Far off in the distance we could spy a little bit of ocean, as well as the top half of the ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier. But the fact that we were staying at an oceanfront hotel (literally, on the "shore") never once escaped us. For starters, the lobby is a giant gray cube that lets in plenty of natural light, including views of the beach across the street.
More importantly though, the design is incredibly water-focused. Pretty much everything—from the stark silvery hallways to the pool to the guest rooms' aquamarine decor—made us feel like we were underwater.
Read on to see photos from inside and all around the hotel!
When The Shore Hotel opened in Santa Monica, Calif. over a year ago, we were excited that (finally!) a new, hip and eco-friendly hotel had opened just a mere two blocks from the Santa Monica Pier along Ocean Avenue. But we were equally, maybe more, excited for the Blue Plate Taco restaurant to open adjacent to the hotel.
The taco joint would be the third restaurant from the Blue Plate people who also have well-reviewed Blue Plate Oysterette further north on Ocean Avenue as well as popular breakfast spot, Blue Plate Kitchen inland on Montana Avenue. It took a while, but BPT finally opened last Fall, giving hotel guests a fun spot to grab margaritas, ceviches chips and guac, grilled corn and of course tacos. And we finally got to hit up the spot on Saturday night.
**A HOTELCHATTER EXCLUSIVE**
Los Angeles' Westside is finally getting the hip, urban hotel it desperately needs and just in time for summer, too.
Avi Brosh, the hard-working hotelier behind the Palihouse West Hollywood and the budget chic Palihotel on Melrose Avenue, has quietly snapped up the old Embassy Hotel Apartments near the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. The spot will reopen this June as The Palihouse Santa Monica.
We didn't know the building was up for sale, let alone sold off to Brosh but he and his Paligroup team have already begun renovating the rooms. Billed as a 36-room "beach lodge", the hotel will have four room categories--classic guest suites, studio residences, one-bedroom residences and two-bedroom residences.
The classic rooms will be more of a typical hotel room size, ranging from 300-500sq.ft. while the "residences" will start at 600-sq.ft. and go up to 2,850-sq.ft. All but a few of the rooms will have kitchenettes, there's complimentary wired and wireless internet for all, Samsung 40" flat-screen TVs, AppleTV, and Dean & Deluca minibar treats.
The Loews Santa Monica about a month ago.
As the chilly 65-degree weather sets in here in Santa Monica, forcing Angelenos to wear a scarf with their uniform of jeans and flip-flops, one hotel along the beach has been making good use of the off-season by doing some upgrades.
The Loews Santa Monica has been steadily working on their facade since at least November. The hotel told us today that the renovations are expected to last until February. While there is no work going on inside the hotel or the guestrooms, guests are being diverted to the left of the entrance until the work is finished.
Not that you would know that if you visited the hotel's website which makes no mention of renovations, not even during the booking process. Annoying. Room rates are also not affected too much. The hotel is currently asking $318 a night next week. Just in case you're curious, the weather should be around mid-60s. Not quite beach weather but it does beat snow.
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Hey LA peeps, got any plans for the weekend? Whaddya say to baking a birthday cake for The Shore Hotel's one year anniversary? What's that—you're actually a pretty dab hand in the kitchen? Well then, this might interest you, as the Santa Monica hotel is giving away a $1/night room to the person who bakes them the best birthday cake*, no singing required.
Meanwhile, here's a (not so) small consolation prize for those of you who like food and like hotels but don't want to do any of the work: Eater LA reports that the Shore's highly-anticipated restaurant, Blue Plate Taco—which we've been drooling over for, oh, about a year now—has finally opened.
If you’re staying at Santa Monica’s Fairmont Miramar tonight or will be there early tomorrow morning, you’ll be treated to a special show—a view of the Space shuttle Endeavour being carried on the back of a specially modified Boeing 747 shuttle carrier aircraft.
The Endeavour will leave, weather permitting, Edwards Air Force Base around 7:15 a.m. Friday morning, to tour, then enter the Los Angeles airspace around 10:30 am before it retires at its permanent home—the California Science Center. Naturally, because of security issues, timing isn't exact.
Lucky hotel guests can witness this historical moment by taking the elevator to the 10th floor, and climbing the exit door to the Fairmont’s rooftop. We're thinking this a better option than say, rubbernecking on the freeway or getting caught in congestion in some of the most popular fly-by areas.
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We usually flock to hotel lobbies to admire their artwork, slurp down specialty cocktails and entertain ourselves with some people-watching (tourist or local? trophy wife or escort?) but over at the Casa Del Mar this treasured ritual of ours could soon be replaced with mind-reading.
Yes, thanks to these newfangled gadgest from Necomini we can see what it's like to be in Sookie Stackhouse's shoes for once. Kind of.
The futuristic headsets called. Necomimi Brainwave Catears, are on loan to guests at the hotel's Lobby Lounge bar. Here's how they work: One sensor is placed on the user's forehead and another is clipped to their ear. And atop their head, sits a pair of giant cat ears. As the sensors monitor the user's brainwaves, the ears will move accordingly. Apparently, the ears perk up when the user is "alert" and will drop down when the user is relaxed or "in the zone."
We've been known to swipe some hotel swag during our stays--toiletries, slippers, notepads, pencils and the like but when it comes to hotel beach bags, we don't mind having to pay up, especially if it's a limited edition one like this tote that designer kate spade did for Shutters On the Beach in Santa Monica.
The bag features a blue and green "solar" print from Florence Broadhurst, the late Australian textile designer whose collection kate spade has been incorporating into her looks. The bucket tote is relatively simple, with an open top, an interior pocket and leather-trimmed handles but it also comes with hangtag noting the exclusive collaboration. Plus, it totally matches the green kate spade bikes on loan at the hotel.
Interested in owning this bag for yourself? Only 100 bags will be available at the hotel and through their online shop at ShuttersBeachStyle.com for $198. With room rates hovering near $500 at the hotel, think of buying the bag as a cheaper way to "experience" the hotel.
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We love luxury hotels but we can't always afford to stay in them. Thankfully, hotels these days are way more than just rooms for paying hotel guests. Between visiting the lobbies, bars, restaurants, and spas inside these upper echelon hotels, it's practically as good as staying the night. Here's our latest installment of how to quench your champagne tastes on a Coca-Cola budget with a Hotel Day Trip.
We hit up Shutters on The Beach the other day for a quick lunch at their beachfront restaurant, Coast. If you can't afford one of the $400+ rooms at the hotel, doing a casual brunch or lunch (or even dinner) at Coast is the affordable alternative to experiencing the hotel.
Our go-to order is the tomato soup ($11) with mini-grilled cheese sandwiches and a side of french fries ($5). But the fish tacos ($15) and the caesar salad ($13) are tasty and filling as well. And if you come on Farmer Market Wednesdays, the chefs at Shutters will incorporate their freshest findings from the Santa Monica Farmers Market into a three-course Market Dinner for just $29.