If a stately Nantucket mansion—complete with gray siding and white trim, shaded verandas and shuttered windows—were picked up and dropped on the Santa Monica shore, it could do no better an impression of a New England seaside retreat than Shutters on the Beach. An elegant, breezy hotel decked out in nautical-inspired decor sometimes reminiscent of a luxury yacht, Shutters feels more like a wealthy friend’s sprawling summer estate than an urban lodging. The lobby lounge—nay, Living Room—is filled with couches, fireplaces, and the breeze wafting in off the beach through the open French doors; beautiful people relax over cocktails and live jazz, drifting out to the veranda to take in the sunset. The two restaurants—one actually on the beach, the other overlooking it—serve fresh, local cuisine amid atmospheres so welcoming and calm that it’s tempting to keep ordering just to stay longer. The ocean-view pool, with its many cabanas and loungers, is a pleasant place to bask, but with the beach just down the steps, it’s hard not to grab a beach kit (complete with towels, chairs, kites, and umbrellas) and stake out a spot in the sand. How can this still be the big city?
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Located right on the beach in Santa Monica, a few blocks south of the iconic Santa Monica Pier, Shutters on the Beach is a quiet haven in a bustling city. Borrow bikes from the hotel and cruise up and down the coast along the beachfront bike path, and head over to the bustling Third Street Promenade, home to numerous restaurants, shops, and bars. Try morning yoga on the beach, take a spin on the ferris wheel, dine on farm-to-table cuisine at Rustic Canyon, and explore the bounty at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market.
Need to Know
Rooms: 186 rooms, 12 suites. From $645. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: When it comes to scenic, beachfront dining, Shutters corners the market. The elegant One Pico evokes a Nantucket shipboard dining room; it serves sophisticated, locally sourced dishes such as grilled octopus with pork belly and black cod with saffron risotto alongside an extensive, curated collection of California wines. Downstairs, right on the beach, the breezy Coast café offers a seafood-focused menu of classics for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between; the weekend brunch is especially popular. The lobby lounge, called the Living Room, is a lively, trendy spot to see and be seen over cocktails and small bites, with an oceanfront veranda and regular live jazz. Spa and gym details: One the Spa, Shutters’ signature pamper den, offers a full range of treatments by Red Flower and Omorovicza, as well as a selection of beauty and salon treatments. In addition to the lounger-lined oceanfront pool, the hotel has a yacht-inspired fitness center with top-of-the-line equipment, as well as a sauna and steam room. Bicycles are available to borrow for cruising the beach, and the beach concierge can provide beach equipment upon request.
Who's it best for: Preppy couples and vacationing New Englanders who crave a slice of home. Our favorite rooms: All rooms and suites at Shutters have polished hardwood floors, a reading library, and a whirlpool soaking tub, but not all have ocean views. Those that do have large, white shuttered doors that open onto private balconies looking right out onto the beach, and the Pacific beyond. Cool ride: Get a lift around Santa Monica in the house car—a Tesla Model S P85, the world’s first electric luxury sedan. This one has white leather seats, Wi-Fi, and a built-in tablet. Talk about arriving in style.