The Huntley Hotel Santa Monica BeachSanta Monica, Los Angeles, California
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A sleek leather and rug-filled lobby downstairs, and a pulsating, uber-trendy restaurant and lounge on top
Inside this shiny, prettily wrapped package, you get the nagging feeling that this centrally located, 209-room Santa Monica hotel (slightly too large to feel boutique) coasts along thanks to the wild popularity and studied chicness of its Penthouse restaurant and bar, which on weekend evenings morphs into a heaving meat market for industry insiders, celebrity wanna-bes, and the occassional celebrity (Sarah Jessica Parker, Laurence Fishburne, Bill Murray, and Mel Gibson among them). The hotel itself attracts mainly guests from the U.S. and abroad who come to do some damage to their credit cards at Fred Segal, American Apparel, and Design Within Reach.
After a four-year renovation that ended in 2009, the $18 million spent overhauling this former apartment building (built in 1962 by an architect named Huntley) is strikingly apparent in the lobby, exterior, fitness center, and Penthouse restaurant and bar, but is much less evident in the Deluxe City View Queen Room and bathroom. Erstwhile residences are now guest rooms nicely appointed with 42-inch LG flat-screen HD TVs, robes, and slippers, but stains and scratches are already perceptible upon close inspection of doorways and carpets. And the bathroom appears to be one-third remodeled: A new Kohler sink basin with a new marble countertop shares space with a Crane toilet that's ready for the salvage shop and a Kohler showerhead that looks like it's seen war, or possibly an earthquake.
Despite the lack of balconies and its location one-and-a-half blocks from Ocean Avenue, the rooms and suites on higher floors (close to the percussive Penthouse restaurant) have partial or full ocean views. But true beach bunnies may prefer Casa del Mar or Shutters on the Beach, which, as their names indicate, are as close to the sand as one can get without getting wet. They cost more, but offer more too: a pool, a spa, and a more tranquil atmosphere.
Pleasant and accommodating, but not excessively so
The Huntley aims for (and usually achieves) a high level of service, but only to a point.
- Prompt 24-hour room service, though choices are limited after midnight.
- Nightly turndown service upon request, with chocolates
- 24-hour concierge service is fast, helpful, and diligent
- Pricey valet parking, typical for Santa Monica
- Chauffeured Maserati available with advance reservation to and from LAX and locally
Near popular restaurants and shopping, but the beach is a 20-minute walk
Sitting statuesquely on Santa Monica's palm-tree-lined 2nd Street, the 18-floor Huntley towers over the houses and low-rise condos on this quiet residential street. It's steps from popular Third Street restaurants, cafes, shopping, and spas, and around the corner from Ocean Avenue and its unobstructed views of the Pacific. Though the hotel is one-and-a-half blocks inland from the bluff overlooking Santa Monica Beach, some rooms on high floors have partial or full ocean views.
- 15- to 20-minute walk to Santa Monica beach, which entails crossing well-trafficked Ocean Avenue, cutting through Palisades Park (with its noticeable homeless population), and traversing a footbridge over the Pacific Coast Highway
- 15-minute walk along the beach to Santa Monica Pier
- Three-block, five-minute walk to Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Farmers' Market
- 20-minute drive to Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills in traffic
- 80-minute drive to Universal Studios in traffic
- 60-minute drive to Hollywood Boulevard/Grauman's Chinese Theatre in traffic
- 30- to 45-minute drive to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
A fair amount of space, but light on serious luxury
Decorated primarily in muted, monochromatic tones and chartreuse hues, deluxe guest rooms are warm and inviting, with a wood-and-faux-suede buttoned headboard as their centerpiece (plus a smart-looking white leather desk chair on wheels). At 550 square feet and 400 square feet respectively, similar category guest rooms at swish nearby retreats Oceana and Shutters on the Beach are significantly larger, but for considerably more a night.
- Deluxe rooms average 350 square feet and hold one king, one queen, or two queen beds; no balconies; views range from city to mountains to partial ocean to full ocean (albeit from a block from the sea).
- Simmons queen mattress with one-inch pillow-top is comfortable, but it isn't new and shows some tearing and pilling; sheets are 100 percent Egyptian cotton by Matteo; lightweight down duvet and pillows.
- Oddly in light of the latest refurbishments, in-room technology spans several decades: the 42-inch LG flat-screen HD TV with HBO and pay-per-view movies is great, but a Sony Dream Machine CD/radio/clock (no iPod dock) and Sony DVD player feel outdated -- and superfluous since there's no CD or DVD library.
- Bathroom has dark, marble-topped sink, and dirty, corroded showerhead; unremarkable pressure
- Frette robes and slippers; LATHER toiletries, including dental rinse (a nice touch); some bath towels are Five Star, others are Sobel Westex, all are nothing special.
- Cribs and rollaways available upon request.
- Closet has Sunbeam iron, ironing board, and digital safe that can hold a laptop.
- Minibar and honor bar snack tray with stainless steel ice bucket, tongs, and cocktail shaker
- Fee for Wi-Fi and hard-wired Internet
- 21 large suites also available
A surprisingly modest number of features for a purportedly luxe hotel
With no pool, spa, outdoor space, or beachfront access, the hotel offers little for guests to do other than eat, drink, sleep, and leave.
- Attractive but windowless 24-hour fitness center is small and partially visible from the front desk; floor-to-ceiling mirrors, two treadmills, an elliptical machine, a stair climber, a circuit weight training machine, free weights, stretching mats, and an exercise ball.
- O Cafe and Gift Shop sells breakfast and lunch items, drinks, and other necessities, and rents beach cruiser bikes ($20 for four hours; $35 for more), and umbrellas and beach chairs ($10 for four hours; $20 for more).
- The small 2nd-floor business center is open 24 hours; free use of two computers and printer.
- In-room hotel info book suggests a nearby YMCA for its pool and Jacuzzi, which seems a strange recommendation in this upscale neighborhood; no other pool options for guests.
- Same-day laundry and dry cleaning services
- No pets allowed
A 15- to 20-minute amble to a miles-long stretch of sand
An entire residential block, the Pacific Coast Highway, and towering bluffs lie between the Huntley and Santa Monica Beach. After walking around the corner to Ocean Avenue, beachgoers navigate easy paths down the bluffs, then cross footbridges above the busy highway before they reach the sand. Although the water sometimes smells acrid as a result of the enormous pollution Los Angeles generates, the waves at Santa Monica Beach are a magnet for surfers.
- Sand extends gradually into the water -- ideal for swimming or boogie-boarding (though runoff can be a concern).
- Lifeguard stations at regular intervals along the beach during summer and early fall
- A 22-mile bike path runs along the beach, drawing cyclists and rollerbladers.
- Multiple shops near the bike path rent beach gear. (O Cafe and Gift Shop at the Huntley rents bicycles, beach chairs, and umbrellas.)
- Beachside snack shops serve fast food.
- Public-use volleyball nets
- Crowds and litter can amass, particularly in summer.
Around the corner from the oceanfront bluff (with beach access several blocks farther), but not a particularly family-oriented hotel
Without a pool or space for kids to frolic (except an inconveniently placed outdoor seating area with a gas fireplace off the parking garage), and a formal restaurant with a dynamic nightclub scene, the Huntley isn't a kids' zone. A few tots gambol around the lobby but their parents mostly try to steer them away from the expensive-looking leather and sheepskin fabrics and lightbox sconces. Pool purists should consider the Loews Santa Monica Beach or Fairmont Miramar.
- The minibar includes X-Rated Liqueur and an intimacy kit with condoms, towelettes, and lube jelly.
- Free cribs and rollaways would be a tight fit in rooms with queen beds.
- Limited kids' options in Penthouse restaurant and room service menu (hamburger, chicken fingers, grilled cheese)
Generally tidy, but could be better maintained for a high-design hotel
Overall, the Huntley looks and feels clean, but are were some very visible scuffs and gouges on doors and frames in the deluxe room and bathroom, knicks in the wall, stains on room and hallway carpeting, and the bed frame, and a tired bathroom in desperate need of updating, cosmetic attention, and a new showerhead. An ice machine on the 7th floor was rusted and had a busted hinge, and papers were piled up in the empty business center.
Its restaurant isn't cheap, but the food is excellent and the vistas stunning.
Dining at the Penthouse enclosed rooftop restaurant, with its billowy white curtains and rectangular gas fireplace, requires A-list apparel, a movie star salary, and earplugs -- the din can be thunderous. High-profile diners have included Luke and Owen Wilson, Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Jessica Biel, Patrick Dempsey, and Ben Affleck. But unless you're one of them, you won't get special treatment; the Penthouse takes reservations on a first-come-first-served basis, even for hotel guests.
- Penthouse open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; thoroughly satisfying entrees include Alaskan Halibut, pappardelle with chicken, and an 18-ounce Angus ribeye steak
- Hotel guests reach the restaurant via the rear guest elevator, while diners from the general public step into the floor-to-ceiling, outdoor glass elevator at the front entrance.
- Comely circular bar serves expertly made, but pricey, cocktails, including a Blackberry Pineapple Sidecar (pressed blackberries, Hennessy, Cointreau, lemon juice, and pineapple juice).
- 24-hour room service menu limited to six options (fried calamari, shrimp cocktail, beef sliders, french fries, crab cakes, salad) after midnight
- O Cafe and Gift Shop in the lobby sells coffee, pastries, drinks, and sandwiches, and has a few tables and stools.
- Restaurant-filled Third Street is a pleasant, five-minute walk away.
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Things You Should Know About The Huntley Hotel Santa Monica Beach
Address1111 Second Street, Santa Monica, California 90403, United States
Also Known As
- The Huntley Hotel
- Deluxe City View Room
- Huntley King Hotel Room
- Malibu Suite
- Premier Hotel Room
- Presidential Suite
- Signature Suite