Hotel Shangri La Santa Monica Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Beaches - Santa Monica and Venice, Los Angeles, California

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Nighttime DJ music (Thursday through Sunday) audible from rooms until midnight
  • Valet parking costs a fee per day, including tax.
  • Pool and hot tub close early.

Bottom Line

A slick and inviting boutique hotel overlooking the Pacific, with 71 exquisite rooms and lustrous interiors in an iconic Art Deco building that displays the curvy contours of an elegant ocean liner. For a modish and luxurious ocean-side getaway, the Shangri-La is mighty close to perfection.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A big splash of Art Deco, South Beach, Miami, overlooking the Pacific

The renovated Art Deco lobby
The renovated Art Deco lobby

Originally built in 1939 and owned by the same family since 1983, this gleaming white Art Deco jewel houses just 71 rooms, including suites. With an utter absence of straight lines or angles, the hotel's exterior unmistakably evokes a cruise ship. Because the building enjoys strict landmark status, its two-year, $30 million makeover didn't allow for any significant structural changes. So L.A. designer Marc Smith subtly and ingeniously embarked on a maritime motif.

The dazzling pool and lounge area with striped cushions, tiered levels of shiny wood, and lots of spherical shapes honors the original architecture and calls to mind the Queen Mary. Guest rooms feel like first-class staterooms, but are bright and airy, and forgo any garish opulence. A small, but well-equipped fitness center and a memorable restaurant round out the radiant property. And inside and out, the hotel aspires to an impressive level of environmental stewardship.

Plus, the best of downtown Santa Monica is literally outside Shangri-La's door: the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, restaurants, and, of course, the beach. Guests are a mixed, primarily refined bunch: straight, gay, European, Australian, film and TV movers and shakers -- and most are unapologetically groovy types who appreciate a server sailing over to their poolside cabana with a well-made artisanal cocktail or two. Over the years, Sean Penn, Bill Clinton, Diane Keaton, and Madonna have slept here, adding to the Shangri-La's pedigree.

A few blocks away and in the same price range, the intimate Oceana evokes a similarly unprententious yet luxurious mood with even fewer rooms (63). The nearby Huntley is less expensive than both properties, but lacks a pool, spa, or prime Ocean Avenue location.

 Service

Attentive, personal, and fully committed to guest needs

Great service from the minute you enter
Great service from the minute you enter
  • First-rate, highly professional concierge will search tirelessly for the best restaurant tables, spa treatments, surfing lessons, Jet Ski rentals, and more (on duty daily).
  • Attentive poolside food and drink service
  • Turndown service, with freshly baked cookies
  • Valet parking for a fee perthx day, including tax
  • 24-hour room service, 18 percent gratuity included

 Location

In arty, monied Santa Monica, very near the beach and the town's major attractions

Hotel Shangri-La sits on the edge of downtown Santa Monica -- the arty hotel-packed beachfront community west of downtown L.A. -- directly opposite the bluffs overlooking the beach. Along Palisades Park's jogging path on the west side of Ocean Avenue, locals run, walk dogs, and do boot-camp exercises with personal trainers. Two blocks east on Wilshire lies the Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian-only outdoor mall with shops, a movie theater, and national chain restaurants including Hooters and Johnny Rockets.

Also, nearby Venice Beach, popular with tourists because of its cool cafes and restaurants on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and its large concentration of hippies, skateboarders, and surfers, doesn't have many fine hotels other than the Erwin; many travelers elect to stay in Santa Monica and drive 10 minutes south to visit Venice.

  • Five-minute walk to the beach; guests must cross Ocean Avenue to Palisades Park, walk over a footbridge above the Pacific Coast Highway
  • Around the corner from the pedestrian-only Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Farmers' Market, restaurants, shopping, and spas
  • 10-minute walk to famous Santa Monica Pier, with ferris wheel, video game arcade, and carnival-style amusements
  • 10-minute drive south to popular Venice Beach and its skateboarders, surfers, and hip restaurants and coffee shops
  • 20-minute drive to Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills in traffic
  • 80-minute drive to Universal Studios in traffic
  • 30-minute drive to Hollywood Boulevard/Grauman's Chinese Theatre in traffic
  • 30 to 45-minute drive to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

 Rooms

Stylish, spotless, with European-inspired touches

A Deluxe Ocean View Room
A Deluxe Ocean View Room

An Art Deco aesthetic, with a dash of minimalism, prevails. Ultra-comfy rooms look pristine, feel lavish yet unfussy, and include almost everything a guest could desire -- except robes and slippers. Thankfully, the nifty original windows survived the recent overhaul, and peek-a-boo windows from the bathroom to the bedroom are a clever update. One complaint: Dark wood floors have been polished to a sheen, but you can hear guests walking around above.

 Features

A mega-cool pool, a private fitness center, a cool roof bar, but no spa

The multi-tiered pool area
The multi-tiered pool area
  • Chic, expansive, tiered pool area with a beautiful design that plays on the hotel's nautical theme
  • Secreted away from the street in a courtyard with music wafting through; plenty of room to chill out; delicious food and cocktails delivered
  • Pool and hot tub close to bathers at an early 8 p.m.
  • Extra-large, 77-inch-long Terry Town hooded towels available poolside
  • Poolside bar and lounge open to the public
  • DJs Thursday through Sunday evenings until midnight; large, oblong gas fire pit surrounded by Adirondack-like cushioned chairs
  • Private poolside cabanas (that actually look semiprivate) rent by day, plus a food and beverage minimum
  • Suite 700 is a chic rooftop bar where hotel guests get first dibs on reservations.
  • Nicely outfitted fitness center in basement, tucked away from the rest of the hotel; some natural light from two small windows
  • Life Fitness cardio and circuit weight training equipment (two elliptical machines, two treadmills, and stationary bike have personal TV screens), Hampton free weights, yoga mats, an exercise ball, towels, and free SoBe lifewater
  • No full spa on-site, but Sybaris rejuvenation lounge offers massages and body treatments in a secluded poolside corner. For a full spa, see nearby Oceana, Fairmont Miramar, or Shutters on the Beach
  • Same-day laundry and dry cleaning services

 Beach

A five-minute amble to a miles-long stretch of sand

Not quite on the beach, but close
Not quite on the beach, but close

Although most guest rooms have shimmering sea views, the Pacific Coast Highway and towering bluffs lie between Hotel Shangri-La and Santa Monica Beach. After crossing Ocean Avenue, beachgoers navigate an easy path through Palisades Park, then cross a footbridge above the busy highway before they reach the 100-yard-wide stretch of sand. The water sometimes smells acrid as a result of the enormous pollution Los Angeles generates, but the waves at Santa Monica Beach are a magnet for surfers.

  • Sand extends gradually into the water -- ideal for swimming or boogie-boarding (though runoff can be a concern).
  • Lifeguard stations at regular intervals along the beach during summer and early fall
  • A 22-mile bike path runs along the beach, drawing cyclists and rollerbladers.
  • Multiple shops near the bike path rent beach gear.
  • Beachside snack shops serve fast food.
  • Public-use volleyball nets
  • Crowds and litter can amass, particularly during summer.

 Eco Initiatives

Light years beyond compact fluorescent bulbs and changing linens every other day

Hotel Shangri-La puts eco-consciousness into serious practice. Aside from typical nods to the environment (nonsmoking rooms, using recycled plastic whenever possible), the hotel is striving to be awarded a two-year, renewable membership in the Santa Monica Green Business Certification Program, which upholds extremely strict criteria for "conserving resources, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste."

  • Hotel operates its own graywater system -- a process that purifies excess water from washing machines, dishwashers, sinks, and showers and reuses it (typically for irrigation), or releases it as clean runoff.
  • 75 percent of food comes from the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, located behind the hotel.
  • Solar-powered pool (only one in L.A.) heats water with on-site solar panels.
  • On-site filtration system separates Santa Monica tap water into both still and sparkling water, which are then served in carafes, eliminating the need for bottled water.
  • Packaging for Natura Green toiletries made primarily from biodegradable PSM (Plastarch Material)
  • Low-flow, dual-flush Caroma toilets
  • Housekeeping cleans with nontoxic, organic products.
  • Hotel gives guests who drive hybrid vehicles a discount overnight valet parking

 Family

Youngsters aren't unwelcome, but would definitely stand out.

Sure, there's a pool (and free cribs, and rollaway beds for a fee per night), but Hotel Shangri-La is the kind of low-key hideaway that gives you the distinct feeling that its guests choose it precisely to avoid children (and not just because of the in-room intimacy kit: Lifestyles condoms, personal lubricant, antiseptic wipes, for a fee). Plus, there are no connecting rooms, just super-luxe suites.

 Cleanliness

Thoroughly renovated, and it shows

One could practically eat off the guest room floors, and the entire property feels freshly washed, laundered, cleaned, dusted, and polished (with the exception of pool lounge chair cushions, some of which were already grubby from overuse). Plus, the spotless bathrooms glimmer.

 Food

One real option, and that's a good thing

Outdoor seating at the Dining Room
Outdoor seating at the Dining Room

The Dining Room serves simple and pricey dishes like chicken paillard, a shrimp cocktail, and monkfish with lentils and pearl onions. The eye-catching indoor seating and bar area overlooks Ocean Avenue. The rounded dark wood chairs, hanging lamps, colorful area rugs, and white curtains in the outdoor seating area near the pool conjure up images of a private yacht en route to Casablanca or Istanbul.

  • The Dining Room serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the chef gets 75 percent of ingredients at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market.
  • The popular Suite 700 bar and lounge serves fancy cocktails and tasty bar snacks; advance reservations only. (In-house guests get preference over the general public.)
  • 24-hour room service; morning cappuccino is a pricey, but it's huge.
  • A host of Third Street and Ocean Avenue restaurants are steps away.

 Bottom Line

A slick and inviting boutique hotel overlooking the Pacific, with 71 exquisite rooms and lustrous interiors in an iconic Art Deco building that displays the curvy contours of an elegant ocean liner. For a modish and luxurious ocean-side getaway, the Shangri-La is mighty close to perfection.

Things You Should Know About Hotel Shangri La Santa Monica

Address

  • 1301 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA, 90401, US

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Hotel Shangri-La Santa Monica

Room Types

  • Deluxe Ocean View Room
  • One Bedroom Ocean View Suite
  • One Bedroom Ocean View Suite with Cuisinette
  • One Bedroom Suite
  • Production Suite
  • RNR Suite
  • Standard Room
  • Two Bedroom Ocean View Luxury Suite
  • Veranda Ocean View Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 71
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Beaches - Santa Monica and Venice, Los Angeles
Address: 1301 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA, 90401, US
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