Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
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.
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.
Limited service from a small, yet personable and knowledgeable, staff
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.
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.
Bright, Zen-like design helps over-furnished rooms feel more airy.
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.)
Lots of freebies
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.
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.
No hotel restaurant; limited 24-hour room service
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.
The nation's first hotel to receive the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver Certification
"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.
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.
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.