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Oyster Hotel Review
The up-to-date gym and ocean-view pool might be enough to distract from the excessive nickle-and-diming, but its standard-size rooms are expensive and viewless.
Bright and airy gym, but for a fee
Towering 45-foot palm trees reach up toward the enormous glass skylight in the Loews Santa Monica's atrium lobby. Offset from the corridorlike lobby is the hotel bar, Ocean and Vine restaurant, and Papillon, a fireside lounge with a stunning view of the ocean. In general, the hotel feels like a stunning office building, perhaps because it caters more to its business clientele than families and leisure travelers. The hotel boasts 20,000 feet of space for events and conventions, as well as several large ballrooms. Many of its year-round guests are there on business, and some of the hotel's few free amenities seem to cater to them: free coffee in the room and a free newspaper delivered to your doorstep each morning.
But that's basically it in terms of free amenities. The Internet costs is charged per day and is spotty at best. The gym has an entrance fee, but that includes any classes that might be going on that day, as well as access to the steam room and the sauna. The business center is charged for the mandatory first ten minutes, and then by the minute after that. Bicycle rental ranges in price per hour, but if you're paying the high price per night for valet parking, you might as well drive around the area.
Many families choose Loews because they trust the brand's family-friendly reputation (the "Loews Loves Kids" program), and it does offer kids' menus by the pool, in-room childproofing, and clean, spacious guest rooms, each with a separate sink/vanity area and toilet/bath to make sharing a room much easier for families. But the hotel isn't actually on the beach, it's across the street, which isn't the safest thing for young children.
Loews has a big staff to help with just about everything, and while it's not personable, it's efficient.
Like at most hotels in this price range, the service at Loews isn't tailored to a guest's personalized stay or contemplating his or her every need. But there are many people on staff who can answer questions and field requests, so guests are never left unattended to for too long.
- Gym fee provides access to any spin or yoga classes, as well as the locker room, steam room, sauna, and there's plenty of fresh fruit, water, and refrigerated towels everywhere
- Staffed concierge desk daily
- 24-hour room service
- Choice of newspaper delivered to the room each morning -- New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal
- Staffed business center
- Nightly turndown service available only by request
Located on the southern end of Santa Monica, Loews is close to a more secluded section of the beach as well as local attractions, shops, and LAX Airport.
Santa Monica is a beach town rich with shops, restaurants, and a tourist-attracting pier with games, rides, and an iconic Ferris wheel. Loews is quite nicely situated close enough to walk to the pier or the Third Street Promenade (a sort of outdoor strip mall), but also far enough away that the streets aren't congested, and guests can take walks down sections of a not-too-busy beach.
Though it is located on Ocean Avenue like many other beachfront hotels (like the Casa Del Mar), Loews is not actually on the beach. Instead, you need to exit the back door of the hotel, cross the street, walk past the lovely garden (a sort of ready-made wedding location), and then you get spit out right at a wide expanse of beach with a gym and a bicycle rental shop. The path to the beach isn't too attractive, and there seems to be a private house that shares the path, but getting to the beach doesn't take too long and it isn't too big a hassle.
- One-minute walk out the hotel's back door to a wide, less crowded stretch of beach
- Five-minute walk to the iconic Santa Monica Pier
- 15-minute walk to the Third Street Promenade and its slew of local and chain stores, shops and restaurants
- 20-minute drive to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills
- Approximately an hour drive to Universal Studios
- 30-minute to an hour drive to Hollywood Boulevard
- 20-minute drive to LAX on surface streets
A Standard, or "Deluxe," room
The guest rooms are very clean, and the king-size beds and down comforters are very comfortable, but the view from the standard room is only of neighboring buildings.
- Standard rooms, called "Deluxe" rooms, start at about 330 square feet (standard for Los Angeles)
- The upgrade from the Deluxe to the Luxury room comes with a better view (of either the pool or the beach, rather than the neighboring buildings), but the size and layout are basically the same
- Many standard rooms are connecting rooms, and there's very little soundproofing between them
- Very comfortable beds with down comforters and quality sheets and pillows
- Spacious desk with Ethernet cables
- Large, 42-inch flat-screen HD TV with 60 premium channels, including three HBOs and three ESPNs.
- Coffeemaker and free Emeril's blend coffee
- No iPod doc; instead, an AM/FM radio
- Large, clean bathroom with a sliding door that separates the toilet and shower from the sinks and the vanity area, which has a second tiny television -- additional privacy for families sharing the room
A large pool with a great view of the beach; plus an excellent gym and spa
- Popular pool and hot tub (especially among kids) with loud, "radio-clean" pop music and a beautiful view of the Pacific
- Spacious, sun-bathed fitness center includes a separate spin class/yoga/aerobic studio, free fruit and fruit-enhanced water, and a locker room with a sauna and steam room. The cardio equipment by Technogym features personal televisions and iPod docking stations. Full access, including classes, is charged per day.
- Full service spa; services range from Heated Lava Shell massages and facials (click here for a full menu of services)
- Business center
- All pets (dogs, cats, snakes, etc.) welcome for a one-time fee
More family friendly than most hotels in Los Angeles -- great pool, fun location, and kids' menus poolside and for room service
- TVs have many kids' channels (HBO Family, Disney, Cartoon network)
- Kids' menus for eating at the pool or ordering room-service
- Cribs are free, and the hotel will also childproof your room ahead of your arrival upon request.
- Babysitting services arranged through concierge with a four-hour minimum, except for Saturday, which has a five-hour minimum.
- Rollaway beds are an additional charge per night.
- Bathrooms have sliding-door partition between shower/toilet and sinks -- a parent could be showering while a child brushes his/her teeth, for example.
- Five-minute walk to the games, rides, and carousel at Santa Monica Pier
Simple poolside fare, an overpriced "farmers-market inspired" restaurant and sushi bar, and a fireside lounge; better, more affordable options are just a short walk away.
There are countless options for food in Santa Monica, including about 20 chain and locally owned restaurants of all types on the Third Street Promenade alone. To a large extent, these restaurants should rule out dining at the hotel, unless you want to eat by the pool (there's a great kids' menu) or indulge in the view while saving cash at the hotel's happy hour at the Papillon lounge.
- Ocean and Vine, an expensive, "farmers-market inspired" restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Sushi at Sunset, an oceanside sushi bar linked to Ocean and Vine
- Blue Streak offers poolside burgers and sandwiches, a kids' menu with baked chicken fingers, PB&J, grilled cheese
- Papillon fireside lounge has a lovely view of the ocean and serves coffee and pastries in the morning and food and cocktails
- 24-hour room service
- Overpriced bananas and breakfast available in the bar area, daily
Everywhere, there seemed to be housekeepers. As a result, the hotel was quite clean. The pool area, however, had many untidy deck chairs and lounging areas, and it took some time after a guests left for chairs to be prepared for others to take their place. But the guest rooms were very clean.
All pets are welcome -- any type, any size.
With the "Loews Loves Pets" program, guests can bring any animal on vacation -- a staffer claims a guest once brought a tiger -- for a cheap onetime per stay fee. No weight restrictions either. But because dogs are barred from the restaurant and pool area (where food is served), guests won't find much room to let Fido run.
- A Loews tag, treat, and bowl of Fiji water greet visiting pooches in the room.
- Concierge can provide beds, leashes, collars, rawhide bones, catnip, litter boxes, pooper scoopers, and scratch poles for free.
- Pet room service menu includes chopped beef with eggs and brown rice
- Hotel brochure suggests nearby walking routes, vets, and groomers.
- Pets can be left alone in rooms, but hotel may bring barking dogs that are disturbing guests down to the front desk; owners may then be charged per hour for dog watching.
Most ceremony and reception options are prepackaged, though some personalized services are available.
An outdoor wedding overlooking the beach
- Wedding Size: Up to 425 guests, depending on the ceremony or reception location
- Extra Fees and Restrictions: The minister's fee and license fee are not included in packages; all outdoor ceremony locations subject to an additional site fee
- Wedding Packages: The Venice Package includes a three-hour cocktail party with an open bar and hors d'oeuvres, a plated dinner, a wedding cake, a champagne toast, two changing rooms for the day of the event, a one-night oceanfront room for the couple, a ballroom ceremony, a sound system, chair covers, a dance floor, and standard white linens. Alternative packages available.
- Photographers and Videographers: In-house photo packages; outside photographers and videographers permitted at no extra fee
- Music: A soloist for the ceremony for two hours, a three-piece jazz band or a five-piece band also available; outside bands permitted at no extra fee.
- Food: Predesigned plated dinners range in price per person, though you can opt for a personalized menu for an additional cost. Also, note that there's an additional chef fee (per 50 guests).
Drinks: An open bar ranges in price per person (two hours required). Also note that there's an additional bartender fee
- Spa Treatments: A full menu of services available on-site, including hair styling
- Honeymoon Suite: There's no special honeymoon suite, but the one-bedroom and luxury suites are popular choices.
Its family-oriented, ocean-view pool and excellent gym make the 342-room Loews in Santa Monica a reasonable option for business travelers and families. Just note that the constant nickel-and-diming and overpriced food can add up, and that the hotel isn't right on the beach (it's across the street from it).
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Things You Should Know About Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
- 1700 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Hotel is Also (or Was Formerly) Known As
- Loews Santa Monica
- Santa Monica Loews
- Bay Suite
- Deluxe Room
- Grand King Suite
- Grand Room
- Luxury Room
- Pacifica Suite
- Palm Suite
- Presidential Suite
- Santa Monica Suite
- Superior Room