Music from rooftop bar and DJs often audible in rooms
Some entry-level rooms are small
Guests have complained that breakfast service is slow
The upscale Hotel Shangri La has 70 stylish rooms and suites across from the Pacific Ocean and near all of Santa Monica's shopping and dining. Rooms and suites are elegant, and feature modern amenities like large flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. Spacious suites include gourmet kitchens and living rooms, though entry-level rooms are small. A chic outdoor pool area is a highlight here, while the rooftop ONYX bar is a nighttime hotspot, with live DJ sets several times a week -- it's worth noting that bar noise can be an issue in rooms. There's also a well-equipped fitness center, spa, and a classy restaurant. For something more luxurious, check out the Hotel Casa Del Mar or Shutters On The Beach -- both stylish options right on the beach.
Upscale hotel with historic Art Deco style overlooking the beach
Originally built in 1939, this gleaming white Art Deco jewel houses just 70 rooms and suites. With curved corners and an absence of angles, the hotel's exterior evokes a cruise ship. That subtle maritime motif pervades throughout; the lovely outdoor pool area features loungers with striped cushions lining the wooden decking, while lots of spherical shapes honor the hotel's original architecture with refined style.
Inside, the lobby features colors like dark mauve, beige, and white, with dark velour armchairs -- it's a sexy look that makes sense given this hotel's long and storied history. Over the years, Sean Penn, Bill Clinton, Diane Keaton, and Madonna have slept here, adding to the Shangri-La's pedigree. The restaurant is equally classy, filled with rounded dark wood chairs around square wooden tables. ONYX bar -- on the roof -- is the star of the show at this hotel, for both locals and hotel guests alike. It's a sleek and dark space, with black furnishings and floors accented by mustard-hued details, while a wall of windows offers ocean views as well as overlooking an outdoor terrace. DJs spin until late on certain nights, helping to put this hotel part on the see-and-be-seen circuit.
Guests here are a mixed, primarily refined bunch, including business travelers, leisure tourists seeking something close to the beach, partiers drawn to the popular rooftop bar, and even families who opt for the large suites with kitchens.
Across the street from Santa Monica Beach, close to shopping and dining options
Hotel Shangri-La sits on the edge of downtown Santa Monica, directly opposite the bluffs overlooking the beach. The beach is a five-minute walk from here: guests must cross Ocean Avenue to Palisades Park and cross a footbridge above the Pacific Coast Highway. The Santa Monica Pier -- with its iconic ferris wheel and carnival vibe -- is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Two blocks east on Wilshire is the Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian-only outdoor mall with shops, a movie theater, and national chain restaurants including Johnny Rockets. More shopping can be found in downtown Santa Monica, an eight-minute walk away. Venice Beach, a popular tourist haunt that's packed cool cafes and restaurants on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, is a 10-minute drive or a 20-minute bus ride (there's a bus stop right outside of the hotel). Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive can be reached in about 20 minutes by car (though it can take much longer, depending on traffic), while Universal Studios is at least a 35-minute drive. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is at minimum a 30-minute drive, but can take over an hour depending on traffic.
Stylish vintage-inspired decor with modern amenities; some with ocean views or full kitchens
An Art Deco aesthetic with a dash of minimalism prevails in the Shangri La's rooms and suites, which feel elegant yet unfussy. Subtly patterned accent walls add just the right amount of texture, while sleek and shiny dark wood furniture with vintage lines provides a contrast to the light hues all around. Colorful accents, like royal blue armchairs beside the large windows, look sharp against the dark hardwood floors. There's little in the way of wall art, though patterns and shiny chrome fixtures help make everything look polished and vintage. Some of the suites have separate living rooms and feel like large luxury lofts, while the best rooms offers lovely ocean views.
Standard amenities include 50- or 60-inch flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, work desks, electronic safes, and free Wi-Fi, but there are no mini-fridges or tea/coffee facilities in lower-category rooms. A selection of snacks and drinks are available for purchase. Suites with full kitchens are equipped with stoves, ovens, microwaves, Nespresso machines, full fridges, and cookware and dishware. Bathrooms feature Carrara marble details, vintage fixtures, and metro tiling, with walk-in showers (suites add separate soaking tubs). High-end toiletries, magnifying mirrors, and Frette bathrobes and slippers are all included. Layouts in some rooms can be compact, with entry-level rooms measuring between 200 and 300 square feet (18 to 28 square meters). Guests also complain of noise from nighttime DJs.
Chic outdoor pool area, restaurant and rooftop bar, spa and fitness center, and meeting rooms
One of the highlights at the Shangri La is the chic outdoor pool area, which features wooden decking and stylish black-and-white striped loungers topped with pink towels. There are also classy cabanas overlooking the pool and hot tub, furnished with black-and-white sofas and armchairs sitting on Persian-style rugs.
The hotel's Dining Room serves American fare with an emphasis on local produce from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. The classy space is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus 24-hour room service is available. Breakfast is not included, and some guests have complained of slow breakfast service. ONYX is the hotel's popular rooftop bar, serving various drinks as well as small plates in the afternoons and evenings. At night, the atmosphere becomes clubby, with a change of dress code and DJ sets several times a week.
Wellness facilities include the rooftop Xanadu Spa, a tented area that offers various massages and treatments, while the basement fitness center is well equipped with modern cardio and strength-training equipment as well as free weights. Business travelers are catered to with meeting space, which can be rented for various events. Other amenities include concierge services, laundry and dry cleaning, and (pricey) valet parking.
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