January 11, 2023
Tablet is your source for discovering the world’s most exciting boutique hotels — places where you’ll find a memorable experience, not just a room for the night. For over twenty years we’ve scoured the earth, evaluating hotels for every taste and budget, creating a hand-picked selection that’s proven and unforgettable. Now, we’re the official hotel selection of the legendary MICHELIN Guide.
Here are the top boutique hotels in Santa Monica:
The green glow through translucent glass is the only clue that there’s anything out of the ordinary going on behind the discreet (and unsigned) facade of this seaside hotel. Inside, though, it’s something else entirely — the Viceroy is one of Santa Monica’s hottest spots, and the interiors are as chic as can be, a contemporary update of a century-old British country style, where clean-lined modern monochrome meets bright kelly-green antique-style furnishings, with printed wallpaper in vivid colors and ornate china where you least expect it — hanging on the walls.
Too often visual sophistication comes at the expense of real quality, but the Viceroy holds up this end as well: guest rooms come complete with fine Italian linens and down duvets on the beds, body and hair care products by Neil George, and 27-inch flat-screen televisions. Rooms come with balconies, and though only half are oriented toward the Pacific, the view more than justifies the added expense.
We’re accustomed to viewing the hospitality world through a critical lens, but every now and then a hotel lives up to the fantasy, and then some. Shutters on the Beach is exactly what you would want a Santa Monica luxury hotel to be, if you were designing it from a blank page. And the best part about it is that you don’t have to — it actually exists, and Michael S. Smith has already gone to the trouble of designing it, in a style that combines the barefoot ease of the West Coast with just a bit of Northeast elegance.
It’s a glamorous backdrop for what is often a glamorous crowd, but the vibe is thoroughly relaxing. Shutters opens right onto the beach, which is more rare than you might imagine around here, and the result is an exceedingly private atmosphere. The rooms are as luxe as can be, and a great many of them have ocean views, including all the suites — and in defiance of the SoCal stereotype your room comes equipped with a small personal library, in addition to all the usual comforts.
Casa del Mar shares something more than ownership with its sister hotel, the neighboring Shutters on the Beach — as surprising as it may sound, they’re the only two hotels in the Los Angeles area that open directly onto the beach. But while Shutters is clean-lined and contemporary, Casa del Mar is a period piece, an authentic 1920s Italianate palace that’s played host to Hollywood royalty for as long as there’s been such a thing.
They also share a designer in common: Michael S. Smith, who redesigned the Obama White House, has brought the Casa del Mar gently into the 21st century, adding some contemporary refinement to the century-old building’s newly renovated interiors. The rooms and suites feel low-key and residential, but they’re not short on comfort — despite its old-world good looks, this is a thoroughly modern luxury hotel.
For LA’s version of a stylish, low-key beach town, Santa Monica is rather short on stylish, low-key hotels. Enter the Palihouse Santa Monica. It’s not as conspicuously glam as some of the competition, and, tucked away on a residential street a few blocks from the beach, it’s certainly not as much of a scene; it’s just a perfectly tasteful, highly livable hotel, a historic 1927 Mediterranean Revival masterpiece that’s been given a fresh coat of paint and a light, contemporary makeover by the ever-on-point Pali hotel group. (Repeat guests will appreciate the fact that a further renovation has added air conditioning to the mix.)
These are the same folks behind the successful Palihotel on Melrose and the Palihouse Holloway, and their specialty is creating hotels so comfortable you could quite literally move in. They do a substantial long-stay business, and, even for short-term guests, there’s a warmth that larger hotels and some too-cool boutiques tend to lack. In a way, the formula is simple: guest rooms with space to spread out, bedding made of all the right feathers and threads, free wired and wireless internet, supersize screens. Their tendency toward the homey shows in the small details, like windows that actually open — a hotel amenity that really shouldn’t be worth commenting on, but these days is, especially so close to the Pacific.
The Proper Hotels brand debuted in San Francisco with a classic building, a vibrant contemporary design by Kelly Wearstler, and high-luxury details that elevated it above typical high-end boutique fare. And for the brand’s second installment, it’s a similar story: though the Santa Monica Proper Hotel is a new build, designed by Howard Laks Architects with interiors by the very same Kelly Wearstler, it incorporates a 1920s Spanish Colonial building on Wilshire Boulevard, updating a century-old classic for the boutique-hotel era.
What results is a hotel that's more contemporary than vintage, even if its history does show through — it's got the romance of the Twenties but the forms and materials of a modern luxury boutique hotel. The rooms feature works by Los Angeles artists, and the full-length windows reveal uncommon views of Santa Monica's rooftops. The Proper brand has its own signature bed, which is an indulgent one indeed, and it's complemented by Fili D'Oro and Bellino linens, Kelly Wearstler bathrobes, and Aesop bath products.
More boutique hotel lists in the Los Angeles Area:
Top 5 Los Angeles Boutique Hotels
Luxury Hotels in Los Angeles
Hollywood Boutique Hotels
West Hollywood Boutique Hotels
Downtown LA Boutique Hotels
Beverly Hills Boutique Hotels
West LA Boutique Hotels
Palm Springs Boutique Hotels
View our entire selection of Boutique Hotels in Los Angeles
When it comes to Santa Monica boutique hotels, you’ll find many with pools. The following are among the best.
Hotel Oceana - Santa Monica
Santa Monica Proper Hotel
Viceroy Santa Monica
Shutters on the Beach
When it comes to a romantic spot for a special occasion in Santa Monica, we would urge you to consider the following boutique hotels.
Palihouse Santa Monica
Shutters on the Beach
Hotel Oceana - Santa Monica