Shutters On The Beach Rating: 5.0 Pearls
One of only two L.A. hotels right on the sand (along with Casa del Mar next door), Shutters on the Beach has an atmosphere of formal opulence, with expensive artwork in its lobby and restaurants and airy rooms that belong in a billionaire's beach house. Add in doting service and a top-notch spa, and it's no wonder Shutters is a magnet for celebrities who want to soak up the sand and sun in style.
Hotel Casa Del Mar Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Right on the beach like Shutters, this historic grand hotel is world-class yet refreshingly unpretentious (unless you count the Hollywood crowd at the popular lobby bar). But there is nothing modest about its spacious, elegant rooms, rooftop pool, and commanding location. Casa exploits its prime beach views with 20-foot-high windows in the 2nd-floor Veranda dining room and lounge. It's one of the best luxury hotels in L.A.
Hotel Shangri La Santa Monica Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Shangri-La overlooks Santa Monica beach from a perch atop the bluffs --- actually getting to the sand requires a five-minute walk through a park and over a footbridge. But you might never want to leave this sleek boutique. Fresh off a $30 million renovation, the 71 rooms are exquisite. The hotel's exterior evokes an elegant ocean liner, and the dazzling pool and lounge area picks up on the maritime theme. For a luxurious oceanside getaway, the Shangri-La is mighty close to perfection.
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
While not right on the beach, the Loews in Santa Monica is just a minute away. Head out the back door and across the street, and you're on a wide expanse of sand with a bike rental shop and jungle gym nearby. The Ferris wheel, arcade, and carnival-style amusements at the Santa Monica pier are a five-minute walk. With its ocean-view pool, kids' menu at the poolside grill, excellent gym, and ample meeting space, the hotel is a top choice for families and business travelers alike.
The Georgian Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
A picturesque Art Deco boutique hotel with a commanding view of the sea from its sunny front porch, the 84-room Georgian is a classy retreat with lovely, newly renovated rooms, gracious service, and a colorful history (Clark Gable and Carole Lombard came here to escape gossip, and mobsters Bugsy Siegal and Al Capone frequented the basement speakeasy). Like the Shangri-La, the hotel is a five-minute walk from the beach and the pier.
Hotel Erwin Rating: 3.0 Pearls
This eccentric 119-room hotel for budget-conscious travelers is an easy two-block walk from Venice Beach, where surfers flock to the waves and mimes, jugglers, musicians, fortune-tellers, and a man who walks on glass entertain tourists along Oceanfront Walk. The Erwin doesn't quite live up to the laid-back hippie image it projects -- the lobby is a zoo -- but it does have unexpectedly large rooms and remarkably comfortable beds in a neighborhood with very few hotels.