Viceroy Santa Monica Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Sleek, spacious, high-tech rooms
  • One block from the beach
  • Hip, see-and-be-seen lounge
  • Plunge pools with sexy poolside scene
  • Romantic alfresco dining at the restaurant
  • Short walks to Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade

Cons

Bottom Line

It's best known for its sexy bar and pool scenes, but the Viceroy boasts substance as well: friendly service, an environmental conscience, and clean, comfortable rooms, many with ocean views. There's even a library. The competition is stiff in Santa Monica, however, so be sure to check out rates at the many alternatives before booking here.

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 Scene

A hip boutique one block from the beach, it's better known -- if unfairly so -- for its style (sexy lounge, "sceney" pool) than its substance (comfy rooms, solid service).

Greyhounds greet you at the elevators.
Greyhounds greet you at the elevators.

You learn a lot about the Viceroy before you even get there. Whenever mentioned to locals, they inevitably say something to the effect of, "Oh, I've had cocktails at the bar there," or "Be sure to check out the pool -- I've heard movie stars hang out there." The hotel is indeed best known for its see-and-be-seen lounge and pool scenes -- but some former guests have gone further, accusing the Viceroy of eschewing substance in favor of style.

We would disagree. There's no denying the Viceroy succeeds, at the least, with the basics. The service isn't quite up there with its luxury (but pricier) rivals down the street, but it's certainly friendly and efficient. The rooms are clean, spacious, and high-tech (iPod docks, flat-screens), and many boast views of the ocean. Speaking of the Pacific, it's a few hundred steps away, which, for many visitors, will be reason enough to stay here (though it's worth noting that most of the hotels in Santa Monica are within a block of the beach). The city's famous pier is also nearby, about half a mile down the beach, as is Third Street Promenade and its parade of shops, restaurants, and street performers.

The Viceroy is run by the Viceroy Hotel Group, which operates four other hotels in the area, including the Chamberlain West Hollywood and Maison 140 in Beverly Hills, along with half a dozen other properties in style-conscious locations (the Tides in South Beach is also on the group's roster). Familiarity with any of those names also tells you something about the Viceroy. As usual, renowned interior designer (and former Playboy Playmate) Kelly Wearstler handled the decor; she incorporated several of her favorite motifs, notably animals: note the horse busts in front of the cabanas by the pool. Greyhounds greet you at the elevators; once in your room, it's a Pekingese. The overall theme is Colonial Britain, which manifests itself most conspicuously in the china hanging from walls throughout the hotel. The restaurant, Whist, is named after the British card game.

The Viceroy's greatest drawback, if you can call it that, isn't anything about the hotel itself but rather the stiff competition nearby, some of it just down the street. Four other impressive properties (all either 4 or 4.5 pearls) are literally within blocks, including the kid-friendly Loews and the famous beachside twins, Shutters and Casa del Mar. You'll find better service and more luxury at those two; Loews is better for families, and Le Merigot has a spa. The Viceroy is a solid pick, especially if you can nab a room for under $300, but you might consider staying elsewhere and experiencing the Viceroy by simply grabbing a happy-hour drink in the lounge or out by the pool.

 Service

Very good, if not quite up there with the best

The Viceroy's service doesn't match up with its luxury competitors in the neighborhood -- at Shutters, for instance, the doormen wait by the entrance with towels and water bottles for guests returning from jogs on the beach; at Casa del Mar, you get free shoeshines and local limo transportation. But then, the Viceroy is usually cheaper. And what you do get is solid, friendly service with a few small but noteworthy extra touches. The day before check out, for example, the woman at the front desk calls to ask if you need anything for the following morning (wake-up call, taxi arrangements, etc.); and, in keeping with the newest rage in hotel check-ins, guests check in and out seated face-to-face with front desk staffers.

  • 24-hour room service
  • Helpful concierge on duty throughout the day
  • No turndown service
  • In-room spa services by Green Bliss EcoSpa available upon request

 Location

In tourist-friendly Santa Monica, one block from the beach

The Viceroy sits on a busy four-lane road in Santa Monica, a beach town -- a beach city, really -- filled with shops, restaurants, and the eponymous pier, which is home to games, rides, and an iconic Ferris wheel. There are a few attractions within walking distance (namely the beach, which is a block away), but you'll probably want a car to get around town, and you'll definitely need one to explore the rest of L.A.

  • Three-minute walk to the beach; 10 minutes down the boardwalk to Santa Monica Pier
  • Third Street Promenade (shops, restaurants, street performers, etc.) is half a mile away; probably easiest to just walk and not have to worry about parking.
  • Two miles from Venice Beach (five- to 10-minute drive)
  • 25- to 30-minute drive to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, with high-end shopping and swanky mansions
  • 30- to 45-minute drive to Universal Studios theme park
  • 30- to 45-minute drive to Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame
  • 30- to 45-minute drive to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Safe area; Santa Monica's large homeless population congregates toward the southern edge of Palisades Park, about half a mile away.

 Rooms

Sleek, stylish, and spacious, and some boast views of the ocean

Standard rooms run a spacious 320 square feet.
Standard rooms run a spacious 320 square feet.

The Viceroy's rooms are excellent. Even if the decor is not to your taste -- the yellow benches, synthetic green armchairs, or porcelain-dog lamps (yes, you read that right) won't appeal to everyone -- the rooms excel in almost every other way. They're spacious (320 square feet for Viceroy Rooms, 470 for Grandes) and high-tech (iPod docks, Wi-Fi, big flat-screen TVs), and the beds are super comfy. The bathrooms are small but spacious enough, and mine was immaculate. My favorite touch? The oversize Neil George soap and moisturizer dispensers, which reduces wastefulness. ("OUR GUESTS CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT," it says on a placard. "WE DO TOO.")

 Features

The usuals (gym, business center), plus a happening pool scene

A luxurious poolside cabana
A luxurious poolside cabana

The Viceroy boasts the standard big-city collection of amenities -- fitness center, meeting room, business center -- but the highlight, to be sure, is the pair of plunge pools in the hotel's backyard. It was cold the week I was there, so the pool area was empty during my stay (one of the pools had even been converted into a dance floor for office parties), but reliable word has it that it's a pretty sweet place to kick it when the sun is out. Drinks, bikinis, celebrity wannabes, celebrity-oglers, and (purportedly) actual celebrities ... you know, the usual SoCal concoction.

 Family

Not particularly kid-friendly, but not a bad choice either

The hotel is close to the Santa Monica Pier.
The hotel is close to the Santa Monica Pier.

Children aren't the target audience here -- the design is SoCal sexy-chic, the bar is one of the Viceroy's biggest draws, and at the pool you'll find more aspiring models sipping cocktails than tykes doing cannonballs. But there's no particular reason not to take the little ones. At the least, the hotel's location across the street from the beach and a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier makes it a convenient base for family-friendly activities.

  • Cribs (free) and rollaways (charged per night) both available
  • The similarly priced Loews and luxe Casa del Mar, right down the street, are both more kid-friendly.
  • For the rest of our favorite family hotels in L.A., click here.

 Cleanliness

Not a problem

The Viceroy hasn't been fully renovated since it opened in 2002, and there are currently no plans in the works. But that could be because the hotel's still in excellent shape. With the exception of some minor wear and tear (chipped paint on the window sills) and a few blemishes (luggage-wheel stains on the walls, dirty windows) in the room, everything was perfectly clean.

 Food

A high-end restaurant on-site and plenty of other solid options nearby

The restaurant, Whist
The restaurant, Whist

The Viceroy's restaurant, Cast, serves locally sourced international fare for all three meals. On a nice night, Cast's alfresco seating near the pool makes it a great place to take have a romantic date.

  • Several good places right nearby, including Cora's Coffee Shoppe, a cute cafe across the street
  • Myriad options on Third Street Promenade, half a mile away

 Drinks

Cameo, a destination lounge

Cameo Bar
Cameo Bar

The Viceroy's bar, Cameo, is one of Santa Monica's preeminent hot spots. Besides guests, you'll find plenty of wannabe actors and aspiring models, and even, more than occasionally, those who have made it (Owen and Luke Wilson are supposedly regulars). On nice nights, service -- along with the scene -- extends all the way to the pool.

 Bottom Line

It's best known for its sexy bar and pool scenes, but the Viceroy boasts substance as well: friendly service, an environmental conscience, and clean, comfortable rooms, many with ocean views. There's even a library. The competition is stiff in Santa Monica, however, so be sure to check out rates at the many alternatives before booking here.

Things You Should Know About Viceroy Santa Monica

Address

  • 1819 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA, 90401

Hotel is Also (or Was Formerly) Known As

  • Viceroy Hotel
  • Viceroy Hotel Santa Monica

Room Types

  • Empire Suite
  • Grande Room City View
  • Grande Room Ocean View
  • Monarch Suite
  • Viceroy Ocean View Room
  • Viceroy Room City View
  • Viceroy Room Partial Ocean View

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 162
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Santa Monica, Los Angeles
Address: 1819 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA, 90401
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