The Ambrose Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Far from the beach
  • No flat-screen TVs
  • No dedicated concierge
  • Limited room service menu

Bottom Line

This 77-room, midrange boutique hotel is one of the most environmentally focused hotels in Southern California. While it mostly caters to business travelers, if you're an Earth-loving tourist who doesn't mind staying inland, it's a fantastic, Zen-like alternative to Santa Monica's enormous beachfront hotels, like the Loews, Le Marigot, or the Miramar.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

An excellent Santa Monica hotel devoted to environmental stability, the Ambrose caters to mid-to-luxury health-kick tourists and business travelers looking for a quiet respite.

Ambrose's Japanese-inspired relaxation garden
Ambrose's Japanese-inspired relaxation garden

The 77-room Ambrose Hotel comes close to reproducing the actual Santa Monica lifestyle: a residential location, a focus on mental, physical, and environmental health, and a decor that mixes Westernized feng shui and modernist Asian. It takes a decidedly holistic approach -- an ideology shared by many area residents. It provides preferred parking to hybrid vehicles (which can also be rented on-site), offers free antioxidant, unsweetened green tea in the lobby at all times, and it recycles or composts 75 percent of its waste output. Its free London taxi, which takes guests anywhere in the Santa Monica or Brentwood area, is powered by biodiesel fuel.

The rooms have a domestic feel, with earth tones and California Craftsman-style, dark wood furnishings, including a television-concealing armoire. They're kept clean by a staff that uses only environmentally sensitive products. Though the staff is stretched a bit thin -- front desk clerks double as concierges -- they're attentive, knowledgeable about the area, and friendly, referring to guests by name almost immediately.

Gathered in the lobby breakfasting on free pastries from the famous Urth Caffe and sipping Tazo Green Tea and Starbucks Fair Trade organic coffee are people of all types: young parents, business travelers, elderly folks visiting family, and midtwenties, health-conscious tourists. Some visitors sat reading in the Japanese-inspired garden. Awarded the silver certificate by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System and member of the Green Hotel Association, the Ambrose is a go-to choice for those concerned about their impact as a traveler. It's a calming environment with excellent service that compliments a peaceful, residential location, and presents a fantastic alternative to large-scale spots like Loews or Le Marigot. The latter two hotels may be on the beach with more features, but they're huge properties congested with guests.

 Service

Limited service from a small, yet personable and knowledgeable, staff

Free, eco-friendly car service within 1.5 miles
Free, eco-friendly car service within 1.5 miles

The staff seems to consist of two front desk clerks and a couple of caretakers who handle housekeeping and arranging the daily breakfast. And while they're friendly and helpful with a laid-back, yet at-your-service, mentality, the phone tends to ring for a while before it gets picked up. Still, they manage to fulfill requests and address guests by name. With all services delivered by such a small staff, you'll get a more personable feel, but less around-the-clock attentiveness you might have at larger properties, like the Casa Del Mar.

  • Highly personable staff that addresses guests by name
  • 24-hour room service consists of pre-done items the hotel acquires each morning from Urth Caffe (to reduce waste, items not purchased are given to staff and housekeeping each night).
  • No dedicated concierge or porters; front desk helps with bags, makes reservations at local restaurants, etc.
  • Daily housekeeping; linens washed every third day, unless otherwise requested.
  • Free London taxi-style car service within 1.5-mile radius
  • Free USA Today left at door each morning
  • Free parking for guests, with preferred spots given to hybrid vehicles (which can also be rented on-site)

 Location

In Santa Monica, a mile-and-a-half from the beach in a residential area

The Ambrose is in a residential area of Santa Monica, a beach town rich with shops, restaurants, and a tourist-attracting pier with games, rides, and an iconic Ferris wheel. It's not on the beach, like other Santa Monica hotels, but the free bikes and car service -- which takes guests within a mile-and-a-half and easily reaches the beach and both Wilshire and Brentwood shopping centers -- help make up for it.

  • Five-minute drive to the beach, the Santa Monica Pier, and Third Street Promenade with its slew of local and chain stores, shops and restaurants
  • One block from local businesses and office buildings on Wilshire
  • A short walk to many cafes, restaurants, shops, and Whole Foods
  • 15-minute drive to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, an enclave of wealthy living and luxury shopping in the middle of L.A.'s westside
  • Approximately an hour drive to Universal Studios Hollywood, a movie-themed amusement park
  • Anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour drive to touristy Hollywood Boulevard and the celebrity footprints of the famous Walk of Fame at Grauman's Chinese Theatre
  • An easy, 30-minute drive down Lincoln Boulevard to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

 Rooms

Bright, Zen-like design helps over-furnished rooms feel more airy.

Some deluxe studios have garden-view balconies.
Some deluxe studios have garden-view balconies.

A So Cal hodgepodge of California Craftsmen, Westernized feng shui, and Zen concepts meets the ecological consciousness of the 21st-century at the Ambrose. The 300-square-foot standard rooms are about average for Los Angeles and Santa Monica, but they're a bit overcrowded with furniture, bizarre considering they brought in a feng shui specialist to design them. The elevated king-size bed, large armoire, and unnecessary armchair and ottoman make the standard room feel small, but at least the earth colors and Southern California light help matters. Though the furniture has an antique feel and the tube TV adds a further -- in this case unwanted -- antiquated air to standard rooms, the forward-thinking, eco-conscious approach makes the room decidely contemporary. (For a large, flat-screen TV upgrade two levels to a premiere studio.)

  • Standard rooms face neighboring buildings; upgrade one level to a deluxe studio for a garden view; next level of upgrade, premiere room, faces the garden as well, and some have balconies
  • Rooms without balconies have dew-covered windows that don't fully open, so while the light is lovely, your view is often blocked.
  • Bathrooms are softly lit but quite small; a large scale waits shamelessly before your feet; only glass cups are provided to prevent waste; Frette cotton robes and bath linens; Aveda toiletries
  • Rooms have recycling bins and 100 percent recycled bath tissues; cleaned daily with Clean Environment Co. Natural Brand products, naturally derived biodegradable cleaners made from replenishable natural resources; for more eco-conscious programs, see Eco Initiatives Section.
  • Comfortable Matteo Italian bed linens
  • Full-size ironing board; large safe
  • Old, 30-inch tube TVs; flat-screens available in premiere studios; Philips DVD/CD Player with surround sound

 Features

Lots of freebies

Guest get free Wi-Fi and computer use
Guest get free Wi-Fi and computer use

Besides its green initiatives (see Eco Initiatives section), quiet location, and peaceful decor, the Ambrose offers plenty of free services and treats, thus making it a good value compared to area competitors, even hotels on the beach. The lack of a pool and the small gym are negatives, but you'd have to pay over a hundred dollars more to get these things at the massive, nearby Loews hotel.

  • Free Wi-Fi; free use of the hotel's computer
  • Free parking; preferred parking for hybrid cars; free car service within 1.5 miles
  • Free breakfast provided in the lobby by Urth Caffe, along with Starbucks Fair Trade organic coffee
  • Unsweetened iced tea in the lobby at all times
  • Free bike rental
  • On-site small fitness center with treadmills, elliptical machine, exercise bike, free weights, and a ballet bar; open 24-hours
  • On-site hybrid car rental
  • No pool

 Family

Not much for kids

There are no features specifically for kids at The Ambrose. The quiet, peaceful location is a plus, but there's no pool, on-site beach, or children's amenities beyond free bike rentals.

  • Some rooms have two queen beds.
  • Free cribs and pack-and-plays available
  • Quiet, peaceful location
  • You'll have to drive five minute to the beach, the Santa Monica Pier, and Third Street Promenade, with its slew of local and chain stores, shops and restaurants.
  • Free bike rentals and daily breakfast, but no mini-fridge in rooms
  • 24-hour room service from Urth Caffe with some kid-friendly items

 Food

No hotel restaurant; limited 24-hour room service

Morning pastries courtesy of Urth Caffe
Morning pastries courtesy of Urth Caffe

There is no on-site restaurant at The Ambrose, but the hotel has a limited, pretty good 24-hour menu from Urth Caffe, a Santa Monica/Los Angeles/Beverly Hills organic tea-and-coffee shop. Urth also provides the free daily breakfast in the lobby.

  • Room service items from Urth Caffe prepared in advance -- caesar salad, turkey sandwich, panini, mac and cheese, etc.
  • Urth also provides pastries for the free daily breakfast.
  • No junk snacks in the minibar.
  • Minibar is not refrigerated, making it difficult to keep your own food in the room.

 Eco Initiatives

The nation's first hotel to receive the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver Certification

Recycling bins are located throughout hotel.
Recycling bins are located throughout hotel.

"Please help us make a real difference," reads the card placed on the bed upon entering the room, and it's the addition of the word "real" that's a slight acknowledgment of the commonness of eco-friendly marketing ploys these days. The Ambrose's focus on sustainability and its green initiatives are impressive and earnest.

  • 2006 City Of Santa Monica Sustainability Award; 2008 LEED Certificate; Member of the Green Hotel Association
  • Recycles or composts 75 percent of waste output
  • Preferred parking for hybrid cars; hotel's free car service uses vehicle that runs on biodiesel fuel.
  • All bath tissues, napkins, copy paper, et al., is made from 100 percent recycled materials
  • Recycling bins in every room and every public space; hotel suggests guests refill their water bottles with the facility's highly filtered tap water.
  • Hotel is a drop-off location for California Recycles' cellular phone recycling program
  • "Employee use policy" instructs staff to take home any untouched breakfast food or unordered room service (since it's prepared in advance by Urth Caffe and not created in-house) to ensure no food is wasted; hotel provides free bus passes to employees.
  • All appliances are Energy Star rated; energy-efficient frontload washing machines.
  • 15 percent of guest rooms are powered by Clean and Green Wind Power
  • Low-flow toilets (1.3 gpf) and water-saving faucet aerators (1.75 gpf)
  • Nontoxic housekeeping practices and products; no aerosol spray cans or toxic cleaning chemicals used

 Cleanliness

Clean, using environmentaly sound methods and nontoxic products

The housekeepers are given training sessions on how to employ nontoxic housekeeping practices and use Clean Environment Co. Natural Brand cleaning products. All rooms, public spaces, and grounds are very clean and well maintained.

 Bottom Line

This 77-room, midrange boutique hotel is one of the most environmentally focused hotels in Southern California. While it mostly caters to business travelers, if you're an Earth-loving tourist who doesn't mind staying inland, it's a fantastic, Zen-like alternative to Santa Monica's enormous beachfront hotels, like the Loews, Le Marigot, or the Miramar.

Things You Should Know About The Ambrose

Address

  • 1255 20th Street At Arizona, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Ambrose Hotel
  • Ambrose Hotel Santa Monica
  • The Ambrose Hotel

Room Types

  • Deluxe Room
  • Deluxe Studio Suite
  • Premier Room
  • Premier Studio Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 77
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Santa Monica, Los Angeles
Address: 1255 20th Street At Arizona, Santa Monica, CA 90404
(See Map)
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