An art deco icon, built in 1939 for the silver screen stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, the Hotel Shangri-La is a beachfront beauty made for decadence. As the original Shangri-La—the big chain is just leasing the name—the boutique hotel has long been a hideaway for celebrities, a home-away-from-home for design-conscious international elite, and a host of some of Los Angeles’ most elegant soirées.
But the art-filled hotel offers more than its good looks. Renovated from top to bottom in 2008, the Shangri-La is now home to one of Santa Monica’s most indulgent spas (currently under renovation), the kind of rooftop bar a femme fatale would have haunted in a film noir, and a stylized, vintage pool courtyard where broad-brimmed hats and Jackie O sunglasses wouldn’t seem out of place. The famously warm and welcoming service ensures that every whim can be met, and every guest feels not only like a VIP, but also right at home. Having the beach right across the street is just icing on the glamorous cake.