Hotel Shangri La Santa Monica Rating: 4.0 Pearls

Inside, the same 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.

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Best Boutique Hotels in Los Angeles (2 of 25)

 Inside, the same 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.
Fresh off a $30 million renovation, Hotel Shangri La is a slick and inviting 71-room boutique overlooking the Pacific. Its iconic Art Deco exterior has the curvy contours of an elegant ocean liner. Inside, the same 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. Secreted from the street in an interior courtyard, the chic pool area comes with music, plenty of room to chill out, and delicious food and cocktails (both delivered right to your lounge chair). Its design plays on the hotel's nautical theme. Small, intimate, and beautiful, this Santa Monica hotel more than compensates for its lack of on-site features -- no spa, a long walk to the beach -- with great design in its large rooms, a welcoming atmosphere cultivated by personal service, and a relaxed, low-key vibe. The rooms at the Oceana are an enormous 550 square feet, larger than at other Santa Monica hotels. Up-to-date electronics and thoughtful design touches -- coffee table books and potted plants -- hit just the right luxury beach-cottage vibe. The pool is slightly smaller than most at Santa Monica hotels but it's big enough for short laps, and it's rarely crowded during the day; there's plenty of padded lounge chairs and umbrellas to go around. Plus, there's attentive poolside food and drink service. This tiny, 43-room boutique makes up in style what it lacks in size and amenities. Granted there's no pool, real business center, or even a restaurant -- but the unique Chinoiserie and Parisian-inspired rooms, cozy lobby bar with nightly absinthe happy hours, and central Beverly Hills location lure in a loyal crowd. Housed in the home of the glamorous former silent film star, Lillian Gish, Maison 140 has been successfully reworked as a French-meets-Mandarin boutique. It's a little like a 1920s Parisian inn mated with a lush Shanghai opium den and they had one brazen L.A. baby. No room looks like the next at Maison 140, although they all stick to a strict color scheme of red, black, and white, and occasionally yellow and green. Thompsons are like the sleek, sexed-up sports cars of the boutique hotel world, and this Beverly Hills branch is no different. This 110-room boutique is the sharp stylistic counterpoint to the old-world grandeur of regal Beverly Hills hotels, like Wilshire just down the street. High-design rooms feature Italian linens, 37-inch flat-screens, a minibar stocked with Dean and Deluca products, and CO Bigelow toiletries. Worthy of a fashion magazine shoot or 10, the sleek, guest-only rooftop pool overlooks the Hollywood Hills and affords 360 views of the city. The pool's not very deep, but most guests don't do more than wade in for a bit before spending the rest of the afternoon luxuriating in the private cabanas. Best know for its hip bar and pool scene, the 162-room Viceroy Santa Monica also boasts friendly service and an environmental conscience. Rooms at the Viceroy Santa Monica are clean, modern and high-tech, but the hotel's dog motif may not appeal to everyone (but at Oyster, we love it). The hotel's sexy plunge pools are usually a hot spot for celebrity wannabes, celebrity-oglers, and (purportedly) actual celebrities. Housed in a charming, yellow four-story building just off Wilshire, this cozy 49-room boutique offers a lot in a little space, including a 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. The small, heated outdoor pool (open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.) only accommodates a max of 20 people, but you'll only see a few people out there at a time anyway. Cabanas are free, which is pretty unusual, and there's poolside service with food and drinks from the restaurant. 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 newly renovated, truly unique boutique with large suites (many with kitchens) and a lovely rooftop pool. Even if you don't love the Ermitage's brand of bohemianism -- antiquish furniture, faded floral carpeting, distressed fireplaces -- there's a lot to like about the rooms. They're big (375 to 650 square feet), clean (outward appearance notwithstanding), high-tech, and they have comfy beds and nice bathrooms with bath products from the Dead Sea. The Ermitage's restaurant, Butterfly Bar, is like the hotel itself: small but classy. You can eat indoors or outside in the rooftop garden amid not just flora but some fauna as well -- a hummingbird dined on a flower right next to our reporter. If it's too chilly for al fresco, you can also sit in the atmospheric Masters Lounge. There is a picturesque pool on the top floor, which boasts 360-degree views of the city. The pool itself is small, but it's heated and salty (the newest trend in hotel poolery), and the surrounding deck, with its hip design, makes it one of the Ermitage's main draws, especially in nice weather. A rejuvenated Sunset Strip landmark with just 74 rooms, the Art Deco Sunset Tower draws A-list celebrities and treats everyday guests like stars with impeccable service and a vibe that channels the glamorous history of Hollywood. Furnished with wood-and-brass-trim desks, wardrobes, and side tables, the guest rooms lack the edgy design you'll find at the Mondrian, but the art deco accents fit the nostalgic vibe of the hotel perfectly. There's only a small, 40-by-20-foot pool, but the view of downtown L.A. from the peaceful and elegantly designed pool deck is better than you'll find at The Standard Hollywood or the Mondrian.
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