These Are the 10 Best Hotels in Santa Monica

Whether you’re after a boutique retreat right on the sand or a historic hotel for sunset cocktails, these spots will give you a true sense of Santa Monica, California.

A person stands behind the café bar, under a taxidermy deer head, at Palihouse Santa Monica

Palihouse Santa Monica interiors are a compelling blend of quirkiness—think taxidermy busts and offbeat wallpaper—and beach-appropriate breeziness.

Courtesy of Palihouse Santa Monica

Sandwiched between Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, and Venice, the coastal city of Santa Monica has many sides to it. Parts are iconic—see the classic Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade—yet much of it maintains a delightfully homey vibe. There are hip see-and-be-seen spots alongside places that are all about those laid-back and slightly preppy beach vibes.

In recent years, the hotel scene here has evolved significantly, and that trend continues in 2024, with the springtime debut of the 175-room beachfront Sandbourne, and the midyear arrival of the much-anticipated Regent Santa Monica Beach. But even now, the destination has a place to stay for every kind of traveler. As part of AFAR’s Hotels We Love series, we’ve selected our 10 favorite hotels in Santa Monica that are diverse in style but united in one aspect: hospitality that makes you feel at home.

1. Proper Santa Monica

A guest room with a neutral palette at Proper Santa Monica

Kelly Wearstler designs turn Proper Santa Monica guest rooms into small sanctuaries.

Photo by The Ingalls

  • Why we love it: A design-forward retreat with cozy touches
  • Book now

Design buffs will find dreamy sanctuary at the Proper Santa Monica. The mark of interior designer Kelly Wearstler is on every facet of the hotel, where 267 guest rooms are decorated in sand-and-earth hues and furnishings are covered in rich, cozy fabrics. Activities from Westside-based director of culture and programming, Eva Nineuil, include journaling workshops, podcast recordings, yoga, sound baths, and sunset music sessions.

The hotel prioritizes sustainable operations, using bamboo straws at the rooftop restaurant Calabra and ensuring guest rooms are plastic-free. Guests can walk the neighborhood, borrow bikes or surfboards, peruse Santa Monica’s famous Wednesday farmers’ market, and explore local small businesses such as Santa Monica Picnic Co., which sets up gourmet beach picnics with options for add-ons like acoustic guitar accompaniment, Pilates or yin yoga, photography, and surf lessons. Proper’s new Ayurvedic Surya Spa was the city’s most anticipated wellness opening in years when it debuted in spring 2021—Angelenos clamor for appointments. From $500

2. The Georgian Hotel

This suite living room at the Georgian in Santa Monica features hardwood floors topped with a large area rug and a large orange sofa.

A suite living room at the Georgian in Santa Monica

Courtesy of Douglas Friedman

  • Why we love it: A reimagined grande dame on Santa Monica’s iconic waterfront
  • Loyalty program: Leaders Club (Leading Hotels of the World)
  • Book now

The turquoise-hued Georgian hotel has featured prominently on Santa Monica’s waterfront since 1933, with likes of Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin checking in during its heyday. After a period of decline, the hotel completed a stunning renovation in 2023 that brought some of that hospitality magic back. The 56 guest rooms and 28 one-bedroom suites are decorated with curved, art deco–inspired headboards covered in velvet, deep orange sofas, and hardwood floors; many of the rooms have ocean views.

The art deco aesthetic continues in the elegant Restaurant at the Georgian, headed by chef David Almany and decorated with floor-to-ceiling curtains, round banquettes, and a horseshoe-shaped bar. The menu focuses on Italian dishes (free-range chicken Milanese; rigatoni cacio e pepe) paired expertly with wines and spirits by wine director Kristin Olszewski. From $450

3. The Ambrose Hotel

This seating area at the Ambrose Hotel has wooden floors and wooden tables and is lighted with a chandelier.

A seating area at the Ambrose Hotel in Santa Monica

Courtesy of the Ambrose Hotel

  • Why we love it: Its quiet location set away from the high-season crowds
  • Book now

Think of the Ambrose as your ticket to the true Santa Monica lifestyle. Twenty blocks from the beach in a quiet neighborhood, the warm craftsman-style boutique hotel of 77 rooms and suites was the first LEED-certified hotel in the United States, when it opened in 2007. Eco-consciousness is at the core of all the Ambrose’s thoughtful offerings, from beach cruisers (to ride on 17 miles of bike paths in Santa Monica) to the Tesla house car, which drives guests anywhere in a three-mile radius. The nightly Santa Monica Sips tastings, featuring locally brewed beer and California vinos, are a beloved amenity for guests, many of whom book long stays and find it hard to leave (lots are local, enticed in part by a Santa Monica resident discount). From $269

4. Palihouse Santa Monica

A Mediterranean facade gives way to contemporary interiors at Palihouse Santa Monica.

A Mediterranean facade gives way to contemporary interiors at Palihouse Santa Monica.

Courtesy of Palihouse Santa Monica

  • Why we love it: A respite full of personality, just blocks from the bustle of the promenade
  • Book now

Upon check-in, guests at this 38-room boutique beach lodge behind a Mediterranean revival facade are treated to a curated neighborhood guide with recommendations from locals and local staff, enhancing the Santa Monica immersion. As a hospitality brand, Palisociety, and its local founder Avi Brosh, emphasize blending into the surrounding community with a residential ambience and locations on unassuming streets. While the historic structure stands out, the interiors are a compelling blend of quirkiness—think taxidermy busts and offbeat wallpaper—and beach-appropriate breeziness. The hotel participates in the Clean the World program, which redistributes amenity bottles, used soaps, and more to those in need around the globe. From $295

5. Shutters on the Beach

An outdoor space at Shutters on the Beach with two white umbrellas and white outdoor lounge chairs facing the ocean

Shutters on the Beach has a Cape Cod–gone-California vibe.

Photo by Lisa Corson/Afar

  • Why we love it: Cape Cod–inspired architecture, ocean views, and laid-back luxury
  • Loyalty Program: I Prefer (Preferred Hotels & Resorts)
  • Book now

There’s a lot that makes Shutters on the Beach special, starting with its location—it’s one of only two Santa Monica hotels on the beach (the other is Mediterranean-inspired Casa del Mar, the sister property next door). Shutter’s waterfront spot gives it a palpable sense of place—especially when you’re sipping something sparkling in the hotel’s updated courtyard, listening to the waves or the jazz ensemble for the Saturday brunch. The design by White House decorator Michael S. Smith takes its cues from Cape Cod, with blue-and-white interiors and floor-to-ceiling shutters opening up to ocean views.

The 198 guest rooms and suites—many with balconies—all feature sunken Jacuzzi tubs. In the summer, life revolves around the beach, and an activity center is well-stocked with boogie boards, beach cruisers, and umbrellas. The pool is heated year-round, with curtained cabanas and superb guacamole served at the pool bar.

Come winter, the main lounge is the heart of the resort. The fireplaces crackle as bartenders serve drinks from a hearty whiskey, wine, and cocktail menu; the couches are so comfy, the kiddos might curl up and fall asleep as the folksy duo on duty plays an acoustic nightcap. This is laid-back luxury at its best.

Don’t forget to spend some downtime at the serene One Spa or dine on blue crab and hamachi crudo at the coastal California restaurant, 1 Pico. Pro tip: You don’t need to go far from your room for culture. The hotel has a noteworthy art collection, with pieces by Ellsworth Kelly, John Baldessari, and William Wegman, among others, on display throughout the property. From $810

6. Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

A room with dark blue couches and walls, other furnishings, and a large open entrance to an outdoor space at Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows is among the most classic Santa Monica hotels.

Photo by Lisa Romerein

  • Why we love it: A landmark hotel with residential-feeling rooms and ocean views
  • Loyalty program: Accor Live Limitless
  • Book now

It doesn’t get more classic Santa Monica than the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, with its landmark 120-foot-tall Moreton Bay fig tree greeting all who drive in. Celebrating its centennial anniversary recently, the resort sprawls across five acres, with ocean-view hotel rooms and 31 homey beach house–like bungalows—and a spa, fitness center, and shops. Community involvement runs deep; the pet-friendly hotel actively works with Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, Meals on Wheels West, and Santa Monica Symphony, among others.

In 2024, the Fairmont was the first hotel in town to begin a zero-waste program using a compostable refuse bin—the rich compost is given to Santa Monica residents. Visitors can’t miss the FIG @ FIVE happy hour at Fig, with 50 percent off the full menu, drawing locals (reservations are advised) who also come for Poolside Cinema nights and holidays throughout the year. From $439

7. Hotel Casa del Mar

Casa Del Mar’s Terrazza patio features Italian Renaissance–style decor and dining tables with cloth-covered chairs

Meet friends for cocktails at Casa Del Mar’s Terrazza patio.

Photo by Lisa Romerein

  • Why we love it: A longtime socializing spot for locals in an Italian Renaissance–style building
  • Loyalty program: I Prefer (Preferred Hotels & Resorts)
  • Book now

With a ritzy history that dates to 1928, Hotel Casa del Mar is a neighbor of Shutters on the Beach (they share an owner, too) and has been a touchpoint in the community for almost 100 years. The Italian Renaissance style is completely unlike other architecture around it and creates an elegant environment in which to meet friends for cocktails or dine at its beachside patio, Terrazza, while the sun sets. The 145 guest rooms and suites are sanctuaries with mahogany headboards, chaise lounges, and marble-floored bathrooms.

When it comes to sustainability, Casa del Mar is cutting-edge: Orca is food waste reduction and diversion tech used by the culinary team to minimize greenhouse gases, while staff earn points (converted into rewards) for walking, biking, or carpooling to work. From $525

8. Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts

A signature suite, with a separate living and bedroom area, at the Oceana Santa Monica

The Oceana Santa Monica is a suite-only hotel.

Courtesy of Oceana Santa Monica/Lisa Romerein

  • Why we love it: Residential-feeling digs in a happening area
  • Loyalty program: Hilton Honors
  • Book now

Set within the posh neighborhood of Wilshire Montana, the Oceana Santa Monica is across the street from peaceful Palisades Park, dotted with fig and palm trees, alongside the Pacific Ocean. Just stepping into the lobby feels far from the hustle and bustle of the Santa Monica Pier.

Formerly known as the Oceana Beach Club Hotel, the property debuted in 2019 after it was purchased by Hilton’s upscale LXR brand and underwent a $25 million transformation. The 70 apartment-style guest rooms—most featuring ocean views—surround a heart-shaped pool. Each suite has a separate living room and a bedroom, Loro Piana bedding, large bathrooms, and walk-in closets. The two-bedroom suites have en suite kitchens and balconies. The interior design is by Anna Busta of Busta Studio; expect moody blue couches and gold and wood design accents.

Though Santa Monica’s dynamic culinary scene sets a high bar, Oceana Santa Monica’s Sandpiper reaches it. Seafood-forward menu items include chilled prawns served with summer melons, pan-roasted sheepshead fish plated with littleneck clams, and chopped salads. Pair the meal with a house cocktail like the Stan Laurel (named after the actor of Laurel and Hardy fame who once called the Oceana home), composed of Empress gin, Cointreau, lavender syrup, and lemon juice. From $950

9. Viceroy Santa Monica

Viceroy Santa Monica features works by artists from the area, shown here on walls over cushioned lobby seating

Viceroy Santa Monica recently bolstered its art collection, collaborating with artists from the area.

Photo by Mike Schwartz

  • Why we love it: A midcentury-modern option with new poolside cabanas
  • Book Now

A late summer 2020 reimagining of this Santa Monica hotel’s chic public spaces—midcentury-modern furnishings and a fresh color scheme balancing serene neutrals with vibrant pops of blue in the lobby, lounge, and patio—has cemented it as a top pick for both locals and out-of-towners in the market for an escape just a 10-minute walk from the Santa Monica Pier and beach.

The heart of the Viceroy is undoubtedly its pair of glimmering swimming pools and brand-new, well-appointed cabanas. To help celebrate its 20-year anniversary in 2020, the property, whose facade features an eight-story mural, bolstered its art collection, collaborating with artists from the area, including Erin Miller Wray and Monica Perez, to create murals, site-specific artworks, and digitally augmented paintings that nod to Santa Monica’s vibrant creative culture. From $355

10. The Pierside Hotel

This bedroom at the Pierside Hotel in Santa Monica has wooden floors and a large seating area with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the city.

A guest room at the Pierside Hotel in Santa Monica

Courtesy of the Pierside Hotel

  • Why we love it: A chic and convivial retreat right next to Santa Monica Pier
  • Book now

Channeling the chilled-out SoCal vibe that characterizes Santa Monica, the Pierside opened in 2023 as a stylish new lodging option just a few steps from Santa Monica Pier. The 132 guest rooms and suites are decorated with Pacific Ocean–inspired blues, floor-to-ceiling windows, wooden floors, and carpeted seating areas. While the hotel is well located in the center of Santa Monica’s highlights, there are plenty of hangout spots at the hotel, from the heated saltwater pool to the Surfing Fox restaurant, which manifests the hotel’s laid-back feel in such dishes as lobster rolls, fish tacos, and beer-steamed michelada mussels. Thoughtful sustainability details can be found throughout the property, including hydration stations for refilling the aluminum water bottles that the hotel provides. From $405

This article was originally published on May 19, 2021. Additional reporting by Tim Chester and Jennifer Flowers, and Mae Hamilton.

Kathryn Romeyn is a Bali-based journalist and devoted explorer of culture, nature and design, especially throughout Asia and Africa—always with her toddler in tow.
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