Hotel Review: In researching fabulous destinations for a “Memorial Day Girl’s Getaway,” I ultimately set my sights on Santa Monica’s iconic Hotel Shangri-La - a landmark 71-room art-deco hotel that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. This luxurious seaside reprieve, mere minutes on foot to the sand, has been a Los Angeles institution since 1939. But, with its recently completed $30 million renovation that fortunately maintained the hotel’s highly distinctive original architecture and retro design aesthetic, I can assure you this timeless property is duly impeccable and downright glamorous.
Of the 71 non-smoking rooms and suites available ALL with ocean views, there are a number of configurations to choose from, including flats, one- or two-bedroom luxury suites and a spectacular penthouse. The Deluxe rooms feature separate sleeping and working areas, while many of the suites have private walkout verandas, full kitchens, jetted bathtubs and other such upgrades.
All rooms have a warm and sophisticated décor replete with Carrara marble bathrooms and hardwood floors, with each room boasting features such as 50- or 60-inch flat panel televisions, wireless Internet access, iPod docking stations, luxury bath products by Natura Green, plush Frette robes, plush hypoallergenic linens. Amenities at the property include laundry service, daily newspaper delivery, 24-hour in-room dining and top-notch concierge service, in-room or courtyard spa services, town car and limousine transport, and valet parking.
Upon entering my 2-bedroom luxury suite on my recent “girl’s weekend” at the Hotel Shangri-La, I was immediately impressed by the clean lines and simplicity of the deco décor, and concurrently struck by the spaciousness of the room that was bathed in sunlight thanks to the copious amount of windows providing a spectacular view of the Pacific just beyond. With a modern and subdued color pallet of mostly white, black and grays, whimsical touches like a faux giraffe skin throw run and a bright red lounge chair gave the room a playful personality. This suite also had a full kitchen, including a full size range top, dishwasher, oven and microwave. In the master king bedroom, among other creature comforts there was a fabulous soaking tub elevated on a platform near the windows overlooking the view, and the glass enclosed shower had dual heads with a handheld spray nozzle. Love that.
Another room option with real swagger is the Shangri-La’s RNR Suite with its 80’s inspired vibe. It has a circular king bed and panoramic curved windows that look out onto the ocean made private by remote-controlled window shades. This swanky suite also has a six-person shower with multiple jets, a wet bar, private veranda, separate sitting area and easy access to on-site nightlife
Also available for the ultra luxe experience, whether for a private weekend for two or hosting a special event, is Hotel Shangri-La’s 1,200 square foot Penthouse Suite with expansive living quarters, separate king-sized bedroom, two bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, an additional 700 square feet of outdoor terraces, wet bar, dining table for seating up to eight people, two-person custom bathtub, a fireplace, and numerous other accoutrements.
Wine, Dine and Sunshine
After getting settled in to the room, I and my guests headed up to Suite 700 – the hotel’s indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge with a panoramic ocean view to die for. Designed by famed nightlife entrepreneur and designer Marc Smith, Suite 700 features Streamline Moderne design to frame the venue’s sweeping, unobstructed views of the Pacific and famed Santa Monica Pier. The outdoor terraces have plush lounge seating, a glass enclosure as a windbreak, fire pits and stimulating music nightly. Inside the club is a swanky bar and lounge where urban meets beach-side chic.
The hip ambiance of Suite 700 is duly accentuated by its interior design, with walls swathed in warm gray flannel, etched mirrors, and large port viewing windows. Intimate seating is arranged around a grand scalloped fireplace and strategic lighting enhances the mood. Suite 700 has its own line of signature cocktails and a full menu with such classic specialty drinks as Ward 8, 700 Rum Punch and Pimms After Dark served in shiny shakers and tulip martini glasses. Menu highlights include Octopus Carpaccio with Salted Lemon Air and Smoked Paprika; Drunken Watermelon with Bay Shrimp and Avocado Espuma; and Lamb Lion with Medjool Dates and Piquillo Liquid. Food at Suite 700 is served until 1am on weekends and midnight during the week.
Hotel Shangri-La also offers an array of delightful dining options celebrated among the best Santa Monica restaurants. Serving up tantalizing dishes, The Dining Room is the hotel’s on-site gourmet restaurant featuring only the freshest ingredients from the nearby Santa Monica Farmer's Market. The Poolside Bar touts refreshing specialty cocktails and light entrees. And if you prefer to relax in the comfort of your room or suite, in-room dining is available. From sumptuous breakfasts to late-night grill favorites, Hotel Shangri-La provides a culinary experience for all tastes. Read my full Shangri-La restaurant review.
Speaking of the pool at the Shangri-La, that is “the” place to be – especially on the weekends. The hotel’s stylish courtyard pool offers a full bar and waitress service, elegantly appointed cabanas, an outdoor fire feature, as well as many comfortable stuffed chairs and loungers. The mood is relaxed, unpretentious and somewhat communal, and you’ll undoubtedly become immersed in conversation with nearly sunbathers. “Ditch Day Fridays” is now takes place weekly from 1pm-7pm and offers $5 cocktails, poolside noshing, and often live entertainment.
For the health minded, the Shangri-La Fitness Center has cardio and strength-training equipment by Life Fitness with HD personal viewing to enjoy TV programming, iPod music and video while working out as well as a virtual trainer to help create custom workouts and track results. The facility also has a wide selection of free weights, including the brand new Hampton dumbbells with urethane gel handles for a comfortable grip and feel.
Throughout the year the property offers various vacation packages with one sure to suit. Packages currently available include a Bed and Breakfast Package, Romance Package, and a Sun, Sea, Save Package allowing guests to customize their beach weekend getaway.
During your stay you’ll revel in service that’s second to none. From the moment you pull into the valet, to the registration desk and concierge personnel, to the housekeeping, food service and bartending staff throughout the property, you will be greeted with warm and friendly smiles and a refreshingly genuine “what can I do for you” attitude that will appropriately elevate your experience.
The hotel is also ideal for meetings and events with a team that includes an expert, round-the-clock staff of concierges, event planners and caterers that will ensure the occasion is a success. Venues for private meetings and banquets include the coveted Penthouse Suite, a 300-square foot rooftop meeting room, and a 700-square foot outdoor terrace.
With its sensational seaside setting, admirable accommodations, distinctive dining, pristine pool, superb service, and lauded location in walking distance to many popular Santa Monica attractions, The Hotel Shangri-La is the perfect locale for a glam getaway with your gal-pals like my recent trip, and for a fun-filled family vacation or romantic respite with your loved one.
Hotel Shangri-La is located at 1301 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, California 90401. For reservations, call 877-999-1300 or visit: http://www.shangrila-hotel.com.
Merilee Kern is JustLuxé.com's "The Luxe List" Executive Review Editor. She scours the luxury marketplace for new and captivating product, service and travel “musts.” Submissions are accepted via e-mail at Merilee@JustLuxe.com. View all of Merilee’s Luxe List articles from here (scroll to page bottom) and follower her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor.
Merilee A. Kern is a good life connoisseur who scours the luxury marketplace for new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points - the extreme high end to the affordable. The best of the best across all product, service and travel categories are detailed in her exclusive column 'The Luxe List' that reaches millions of affluent consumers each month through multiple print...(Read More)