Santa Monica resorts and hotels are among the best in Los Angeles.
What really sets these top hotels apart, however is that they're right on beach or bluff top with guest rooms and suites overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Pier.
Santa Monica has set the bar on sophisticated beachside dining - and knows how to keep things going well into the evening.
Not be outdone by their Hollywood and Beverly Hills counterparts, these Santa Monica resorts and hotels are transformed by night into hot spots with their own exclusive bars, restaurants, and rooftop clubs catering to hip and trendy patrons.
These 11 Santa Monica resorts and beach hotels are the best of the best, offering superb accommodations, stellar sea views, and impeccable service, each with a uniquely Santa Monica vibe. Here's a bit about each:
Home on the sea (as the name Casa del Mar is loosely translated) neatly sums up the very best things about historic, regal Casa del Mar: Its unbeatable location steps from the sand and sea.
Casa del Mar is one of my very favorite places among all Santa Monica resorts and hotels.
I love the elegant, beach-chic decor, its sweeping views of the Pacific; its prime location just a short walk from the Santa Monica Pier and the shopping and restaurants at the 3rd Street Promenade.
It really does feel like a casa - a luxurious home away from home - instead of a glitzy, over-the-top beachfront resort.
It is one of the best Santa Monica resorts - hands down. Read more about Casa del Mar here.
What's not to love about this decadent, historic hotel perched on the bluffs of Ocean Avenue that takes privacy and service to a whole new level - even for Santa Monica? It's one of the best Santa Monica resorts, rich in history and ambiance.
Hollywood celebrities including Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, and Marilyn Monroe, regularly flocked to the exclusive hotel in years past, seeking a tranquil haven from fans and the prying eyes of the media.
They came for the peace and quiet - and kept coming for the exquisite grounds, the impeccably appointed guest rooms and bungalows, and the million-dollar beach views. Read more about the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows here.
Talk about a resort with an intriguing past! When the Georgian Hotel opened its doors in 1933, it quickly became a rendezvous spot for stars of the silver screen and Hollywood elite, including lovers Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
The notorious Bugsy Siegel and comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle had martinis and enjoyed jazz on the oceanfront veranda although the hotel opened during prohibition.
Today, that verandah still draws big-screen stars and media moguls, who come to savor the fresh ocean air, elegant surrounds, and laid-back beach attitude that feels a world away from Tinseltown. It's easily one of the most notable - and best loved - Santa Monica beach hotels to stay at. Read more about The Georgian Hotel here.
The first time I really noticed the Hotel Shangri-la Santa Monica was in the fall of 2008. It had just reopened following a $30 million renovation.
Today, the white, 7-story hotel is impossible to miss with its sleek, streamline modern architecture and Art Deco design.
But there's more to the hotel a than just a pretty facade, including a rooftop pool with a steamy social scene that makes it one of the best Santa Monica resorts. Read more about the Hotel Shangri-la here.
I love the Huntley Hotel. And not just because it's two blocks from the beach and just one block from the Third Street Promenade - the place to be in Santa Monica.
Could be the hundreds of white lacquer piranhas - lit by spotlights - on the lobby wall that nicely set the stage for a visit that is anything but ordinary.
Maybe it's those divine furry white pillows on butter-soft couches that are so cozy to plop down on while waiting for valet to bring the car around.
Whatever the reason, visitors and locals alike take to this eclectic hotel like surfers to swells. Read more about the Huntley Hotel here.
The French-themed Marriott Santa Monica (officially called JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot, but locals know it simply as the Marriott) is on of the top Santa Monica resorts in the best of settings.
There's a deliciously decadent European-style spa, an intimate lounge with fine wines and rare liquors; a fitness center, sauna, and steam room; to keep you busy when you're not lounging by the pool. Read more about the Santa Monica Marriott here.
Loews holds the distinction of being one of Santa Monica's premier pet-friendly and family-friendly resorts. (It's home to Loews Loves Kids, a program complete with custom-designed activities, toys, and family fitness programs.)
No matter how many times I've been here, I still love the ethereal feeling I get the moment I step through the revolving door and into the 8-story atrium lobby topped by an enormous glass skylight. It's unforgettable.
You definitely won't lack for things to do here. You can take a fitness class (indoors or out) at the award-winning fitness center, relax at the eco-friendly Ocean Spa featuring organic body and facial treatments. Or, just chill beside the oceanfront pool. Read more about Loews Santa Monica here.
The Oceana Beach Club Hotel is a luxe, secluded haven of California coastal style where service and privacy reign supreme.
It's located just steps from the city's best attractions: the Santa Monica Pier, the trendy Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place shopping areas, and some of Santa Monica's best ocean view restaurants.
It is a secluded oasis in which only hotel guests have access to the relaxed atmosphere, attentive service and amenities including Tower 8 restaurant, a fitness center with recumbent bikes, elliptical machines, and free weights from Hoist. Read more about the Oceana Beach Club Hotel here.
The sleek, eco-conscious Shore Hotel is hands-down one of the best Santa Monica resorts.
While you won't be on the sand as you would be at Casa del Mar and Shutters Santa Monica, you'll pay less than half the price per night and still be steps from historic Santa Monica Pier and the beach.
And you'll still have a room with a balcony and a prime view (ocean or garden). Read more about the Shore Hotel here.
This cottage-style resort with its grey shingled siding, flower-covered trellises, and cabana-straped awnings channels Cape Cod in all its glory.
Yet it sits on one of Southern California's best beaches, defiantly proclaiming its East Coast sensibility with a decidedly laid-back, West Coast charm.
It also holds the distinction of being one of just two Santa Monica hotels that are right on the beach - with its next door neighbor, the equally luxurious Casa del Mar, sharing the honor. Read more about Shutters on the Beach here.
The 162-room boutique hotel (including 18 suites) is known today for its hip, local crowd, ocean views, and plunge pools with a sexy poolside scene.
It's also known for its funky decor. I'm talking yellow benches, kelly green armchairs, white porcelain dog lamps (yes, you read that right) in the guest rooms.
I've always loved the seemingly discordant decor for its sophisticated, inviting vibe that makes for a lively setting for sunset cocktails. Read more about the Viceroy Santa Monica here.
How does a beach city of 8.3 walkable square miles and a broad, 3.5-mile stretch of coastline play host to so many luxury resorts and hotels?
Even more curious is how they blend perfectly into the landscape, and how celebrities from around the world come to these resorts and boutique hotels with little fanfare. How does Santa Monica pull this off? Magic.
Cheap Santa Monica hotels - Don't miss our top recommendations.