Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Business travelers and groups staying on the water (but not the beach)
Built in 1991 and a Ritz from the get-go, the 304-room hotel sits on one of the largest man-made harbors in the country. You can walk out the back door and be on the water, but you'll see docks and boats, not sand and surf. For a beach instead of a marina, Ritz guests have to head to Venice, a 15- to 20-minute walk away, or even farther north to Santa Monica.
A painless 10- or 15-minute drive from the airport, the hotel attracts business travelers who enjoy the upscale chain's rewards program and its consistent, understated luxury. About a third of the hotel's business is devoted to events, from business meetings to bar mitzvahs and weddings, and the hotel has ample facilities to accommodate them: more than 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space, including a lovely wedding gazebo. (Too bad traffic noise is audible from the gazebo.) With so many groups, however, it's possible for individual guests to feel a bit less accommodated. Service can be slow, and when a group crowds into the pool area, as one did the night I visited, individual guests may feel a bit edged out by the festivities.
The rooms feature luxurious beds with feathertop mattresses and goose down comforters, but decor, in rooms and throughout the hotel, is dated and bland, even for the Ritz -- never known for its striking style. While guest rooms were renovated in 2006, the decor makes them seem older. Nautically themed, with a miniature sailboat on the desk and boat artwork on the walls, they feel more maritime museum than luxury hotel.
If the marina and close proximity to the airport aren't must-haves, travelers who want to be on the water are better off staying closer to the beach in Santa Monica at the similarly priced Casa del Mar or the pricier Shutters. Both are right on the beach and offer more style and comprable luxury.
Friendly and professional, but it can sometimes feel as though the focus is on big groups, not individual guests
The hotel has the nice service touches -- turndown service, free newspapers -- that you'd expect at a hotel of this caliber, but individual guests may sometimes feel lost in the shuffle among the many groups that stay here. But, the hotel is quick to make it up to guests with their own appealing brand of Ritz formality.
In Marina Del Rey, on the water but not the beach
The hotel sits in Marina Del Rey, a tiny -- less than two square miles -- unincorporated part of Los Angeles on the coast, just south of both Santa Monica and Venice and just north of the Los Angeles International Airport.
As the name would suggest, the area's main feature are its marinas, which sit in one of the largest man-made harbors in the country. (A few shops and restaurants are scattered around, but it's mostly office buildings and homes.) Guests can literally walk out the hotel's back door and be at a dock, and some guest rooms have lovely views of the harbor and boats. The nearest beach, though, is a 15- to 20-minute walk. The hotel's front entrance is on Admiralty Way, a wide, busy thoroughfare.
Dated decor but luxurious features
With blue and gold nautical decor -- pictures of boats, a model sailboat on the desk -- rooms are more highly themed than high style, despite being fully renovated in 2006. Electronics are modern, and features like Frette linens, featherbeds, and Bulgari toiletries are luxurious. At 360 square feet, the standard Deluxe Rooms are average for the area. In nearby Santa Monica, rooms at the Le Merigot are 250 square feet, those at Shutters are 400 square feet, and those at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel are 330 square feet. But the billionaire's-beach-cottage rooms at the more expensive Shutters are also more stylish.
While the Ritz's Santa Monica competitors have better beach access -- Shuttters is right on the beach, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is just off it -- it does offer more amenities, including two lighted tennis courts, a rarity, and even a slip in the marina reserved for hotel guests.
A good but not great family option
With spacious standard rooms and good sleeping options for families, plus a large pool, the Ritz easily accommodates families, but it doesn't cater to them. Parents should feel more than comfortable bringing the kids along on the business trip, but the hotel doesn't market itself as a family hotel the way the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica does. Also, the Ritz's Marina del Rey location means it's further from kid-friendly locations like Santa Monica's pier than Santa Monica hotels are.
Animals under 30 pounds allowed
The hotel accepts pets under 30 pounds. Guests bringing an animal must pay a cleaning fee. Animals aren't allowed in the restaurant, but the hotel does offer in-room dining for dogs. Menu items include 100 percent organic "doggie sushi" and Dr. Harvey's Le Dogue Canine Health Miracle Food.
Poolside fare and a great restaurant on site, but little other dining within easy walking distance
With Jer-Ne, a delicious New American restaurant on-site, plus poolside dining, guests can eat well in the hotel, but directly outside of it, dining options are scarce. Guests must walk a solid 15 minutes (or drive five) to get to Washington Boulevard and Venice's many restaurants and bars.
A thorouhgly clean property
From guest rooms to common areas, this is a thoroughly clean property, though the dark woods and heavy decor make it feel less bright and fresh than hotels with more modern decor.
With a waterfront location on a harbor, not the beach, there's little reason to stay here unless you're boating or have a business meeting at the hotel. Rooms have luxurious features but little style. Guests who want to hit the beach, or just be in a lively area with restaurants and shops, are better off staying in Santa Monica or Venice.