Hotel Shangri La Santa Monica Rating: 4.0 Pearls
For a stylish and luxurious oceanside getaway, the Shangri-La is mighty close to perfection. The exterior of this recently renovated boutique overlooking the Pacific evokes an elegant ocean liner, and the dazzling pool and lounge area pick up on the maritime theme. The rooms are interesting and pristine, with an Art Deco touches and luxury features like 42-inch flat-screens, iPod docks, and marble-topped soaking tubs. The service, meanwhile, is superb.
Hotel Oceana Santa Monica Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This small, intimate Santa Monica hotel has a relaxed, low-key feel unmatched by its luxury rivals Fairmont Miramar, Shutters on the Beach, and Casa del Mar. The rooms are as beautifully decorated, but larger -- an enormous 550 square feet. Up-to-date electronics and thoughtful hit just the right luxury beach-cottage vibe. The staff provides highly personalized service, remembers guests' names, and offers directions and tips with a friendly smile.
Maison 140 Beverly Hills Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Thompson Beverly Hills Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Viceroy Santa Monica Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Mosaic Hotel Beverly Hills Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Housed in a charming, yellow four-story building just off Wilshire in Beverly Hills, this cozy 49-room boutique offers a lot in a little space, including a small heated pool, restaurant, bar, and free fitness room. Even though standard rooms can feel cramped, they come luxuriously outfitted with Frette robes and towels, Bulgari toiletries, 37-inch flat-screens, and Bose stereos.
Petit Ermitage Rating: 4.0 Pearls
It's a matter of taste. The hotel's bohemianism -- think hipsters and distressed fixtures -- will appeal to some but not others. Oyster's take? We dig it, man. For half the price of some of its competitors, you get a completely modern, truly unique boutique with large suites (many with kitchens) and a lovely rooftop pool.
Sunset Tower Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
After being restored to its former glory, this 74-room Sunset Strip landmark channels the glamour of old Hollywood. The service is impeccable: Front desk clerks address guests by name, white-jacketed waiters glide from table to table at the classy Rooms come with Art Deco touches, updated technology, and floor-to-ceiling casement windows (with great city views on the south side of the building). The full-service Argyle Salon & Spa is a destination in its own right., and the bell staff treats everyone like stars (A-list celebs and hoi polloi alike).