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About Santa Monica
Sunny and beach-y with a lively mix of Hollywood celebrity, the super rich, hippies, surfers, bathing beauties and regular folk, Santa Monica is a more relaxed and inclusive version of L.A.. Friendlier, prettier and more culturally varied, Santa Monica is both a destination in its own right and a great base for a stay in L.A.. The best places to stay in Santa Monica are generally beachside beauties with spectacular Pacific views, but our Guru’s selection also includes some properties further inland in the heart of the hive.
The long, long stretch of yellow beach is what put Santa Monica on the map in the first place, a welcoming stretch of gold on the other side of the Hollywood Hills from L.A..
The famously fun Santa Monica pier was the very end of Route 66, and has been promising entertainment since its construction in 1908. There’s the fun fair and arcades, restaurants and bars but also the free concerts and outdoor cinema.
Underneath the pier is an aquarium, and just south of the pier is the original ‘Muscle Beach’ and a ‘Chess Park’.
Rent some in-line skates and cruise around, or find a spot to people watch and grab a white Russian or sarsaparilla.
Third Street is the local shopping strip - pedestrianised and with a Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Then maybe check out the local street art at Streetcraft L.A.? Or the gallery art - still often a bit cheeky and political, at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Or stroll around beautiful Palisades Park on the cliffs.
Just remember to plan ahead if you want to book one of the best places to stay in Santa Monica - it's a busy, year-round destination.
- The Viceroy Santa Monica is a glossy beach-side hotel with a colonial atmosphere and a lively destination bar and fancy pool.
- The 70 room Oceana Beach Club Hotel is a bright, buzzy property with wonderful beach views and colourful decor.
For a city break
- Santa Monica can be a great place to stay on an L.A. city break, and the Palihouse Santa Monica makes for a spacious, comfortable base with its 36 rooms and suites. This is a welcoming spot popular with long-stay visitors.
- The Huntley is ideal for a city break, with spacious rooms, wonderful ocean views and the perfect central location.
For superb value
- For a very reasonable way to stay right by Venice Beach, check out The Rose Hotel, a comfortable, yet chic boutique hotel with 11 spacious, minimalist rooms and great views.
- For around £125 per night you could stay at the Channel Road Inn, which is just two minutes walk in the other direction from Santa Monica beach. This inn was a Colonial Revival home in a residential street and has been tastefully converted. The 15 rooms are light and simple and they do complimentary wine and snacks in the afternoons.
- Shutters on the Beach is a sleek and stylish property with three gourmet restaurants, a spa, fitness centre, pool and private beach. All done in classic Californian cool.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Santa Monica for you?
Best Hotels in Santa Monica
The Rose Hotel 11 rooms from $160Santa Monica (Venice)
In the Bohemian sector of LA in Venice, overlooking Venice beach. This chic, charming, contemporary boutique hotel offers comfort, location and is visually pleasing. Rooms are spacious, airy and minimal in decor. Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast before a day on Venice Beach or exploring LA.Fishing - Along Venice Broadway at the pier is a great opportunity to do some fishing.Great walks - Along the beach or through town.Surfing - Very popular here.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Recommended by - Tablet
Channel Road Inn 15 rooms from $195Santa Monica
A tasteful renovation of this shingle-clad Colonial Revival home makes this an enchanting seaside base. It sits on a peaceful residential street, just 2 minutes from Santa Monica beach. Light rooms with warm, simple but luxurious decor. Free afternoon wine, tea & snacks are the cherry on top!Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Views - Great views from hotelSpaGreat walks - Good for walkers.
Oceana Beach Club Hotel 70 rooms from $261Santa Monica
Bright and lively hotel by the Santa Monica Beach with wonderful Pacific views. The rooms colourfully create a sense of sunny optimism, with home-y, comfortable features in large contemporary rooms. With a heated pool and only seconds from the beach, it's perfect for both relaxing and active trips.Active Holiday - Swim in the heated outdoor pool, take surfing lessons, try yoga, explore the hikes in Temescal Canyon- a perfect active holidayBeach Life - This hotel sits on Santa Monica Beach, looking out over the Pacific Ocean. A shuttle service or bikes take you to the beach.Local exploring - This bright and colourful hotel is only 1 mile from the shopping on Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier.Total relaxationRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
The Kinney 68 rooms from $229Santa Monica (Venice Beach)
A hip hotel boasting a Venice beach address. Vibrantly styled rooms feature bright colours, clean lines, contemporary art and luxury bathrooms. A pool, ping pong tables and terrace complete with fire-pits encourages socialising. The perfect base for the young and trendy.City Style - A hip hotel designed for the young and social.Lively - Hip and happening.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorRecommended by - Tablet
Palihouse Santa Monica 36 rooms from $250Santa Monica (California)
1929 Mediterranean inspired hotel in residential Santa Monica offers both long-stay and weekend break suites. Welcomed by a roaring fireplace at reception the rooms mirror the essence of home. Spacious, contemporary and comfortable it is perfect for local exploring, doing some work and relaxing.Great walks - Santa Monica Pier is great for an evening stroll or Palisades Park in the day time.Sights nearby - Third Street Promenade is lively and promises to always have something going on.Fishing - Just off Santa Monica Pier try your hand at catching some fish.Local markets - Check out the locals farmers market during your stay.Recommended by - Tablet
The Huntley 204 rooms from $400Santa Monica (California)
The ocean views and top location matched by the lively atmosphere make this a great hotel. Rooms with all mod-cons, marble bathrooms and spa baths. Restaurant offers contemporary Californian dishes and unique crafted cocktails in the skies. Venice beach has water sports, the pier for fishing and LA.Sights nearby - Santa Monica Museum of Art is worth a visit.Lively - Hip and happening.Full of characterSeaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.
Viceroy Santa Monica 170 rooms from $544Santa Monica
A glossy beach boutique hotel with a colonial atmosphere and cutting edge designs. Chic white furniture and beautiful sea views. Luxury pool area with private cabana lounging. Smart cocktail bar and elegant lounge. A lively destination near the beach - the hotel bar is a hotspot.City Style - The chic choice- champagne upon arrival, in room spa services, avant guarde interiors, hip bar and penthouse suites.Chic - Trendy-chic with cutting edge designs.Swimming Pool - Luxury Outdoor PoolLively - Hip and happening.Recommended by - Tablet, Frommers, Kiwi Collection, Mr & Mrs Smith
Shutters on the Beach 186 rooms from $568Santa Monica (California)
A stylish beachfront property providing the ultimate low key luxury stay in Santa Monica. With three gourmet restaurants, a spa, fitness centre, pool and private beach there is no end to the ways you can relax and unwind. Rooms are classic California cool design with nautical colours and balconies.Great walks - Grab a gelato and take a stroll down the popular Third Street Promenade.Views - Great views from hotelSailing - Can be booked nearby.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.