Though we were perfectly happy with our suite, it's the lobby, restaurant, and courtyard that had our real attention, as they were the focus of a major renovation that just finished up several weeks ago. The results are impressive—classy, beachy, and literally bursting with greenery. In fact, we kept feeling like we had wandered into a secret garden that just happened to have formed itself around a hotel. But hey, that's California for you.
Topped off with a pointed glass roof, the lobby is a simple, relatively small room with a set of high-backed blue armchairs in one corner, and the check-in desk in the other. Like a beautiful beachfront home (which is what this hotel mostly feels like), the lobby doesn't feel like a lobby, but just a pleasant, sun-filled room you pass through on your way to your room.
Our second-floor room, as seen from outside the hotel!
Part of the hotel's new incarnation is Tower 8 restaurant, which is located next to the courtyard (and even has a few tables set up outside, if you feel like dining next to the pool). The inside is blue-and-white themed, with a prominent wooden counter at one end where breakfast is served in the morning. A white brick fireplace gives the whole place a homey charm.
Meanwhile, the menu (we sampled a melt-in-your-mouth Flat Iron steak with caramelized shallots, smoked tomato butter and Yukon Gold potato wedges, $26) is full of local, seasonal fare, and that's all thanks to the new chef, Josiah Citrin, who's got two Michelin stars under his belt. Citrin gets many of his ingredients directly at the Santa Monica farmers market—and, believe us, you can taste it.
The pool and courtyard:
Finally, we were a little sad that the bulk of our stay didn't allow for pool-lounging in the sun. Regardless, we still liked what we saw: all the rooms look down on the adorable inner patio, which is lined with deck chairs, and there's even a small tree growing in one corner. Once the sun did come out, we saw several kids splashing around in the pool with their parents, and everyone just sitting out relaxing in the quiet, peaceful haven.
The pool itself is small, but then again, this isn't Vegas or anything. Sometimes intimate is better.
We paid a media rate of $150/night during our stay at the Oceana Santa Monica, but all opinions expressed are our own.