When people think about Santa Monica, they probably think about a couple of things: The beach and the Santa Monica Pier. But Santa Monica is more than just a beach city, featuring a number of great neighborhoods off the beach. By Spencer Spellman
SANTA MONICA PIER AREA/OCEAN AVENUE
If you are wondering where to stay in Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier and Beach are the most notable part of Santa Monica, and for good reason, since it’s one of the most beautiful strands of coastline in all of California. This stretch features wide expanses of beach and great views of Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains. It also is home to some of Southern California’s most luxurious beachfront hotels. Most of these Santa Monica hotels are just a couple blocks south of the Santa Monica Pier, including Hotel Casa del Mar, Shutters on the Beach and the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Just a block off the beach but with great Pacific Ocean views nonetheless are the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot and Viceroy Santa Monica. While all of these luxuries Santa Monica hotels have beachfront prices that start around $300 and above, you can’t get any closer to the beach and Santa Monica Pier.
Just a block east, running parallel to the Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Park and Beach, is Ocean Avenue, perched on the coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Here you’ll find some of the most convenient hotels in Santa Monica, located opposite the Santa Monica Pier and Beach, and just two blocks from the Third Street Promenade. This includes luxury hotels, such as the LEED gold-certified Shore Hotel and those known for their history, and architecture, such as the Art Deco Hotel Shangri-La at the Ocean and The Georgian Hotel or chic Oceana Beach Club Hotel. Hotel rates start from $300 and typically go up from there.
Amidst these higher end boutiques and hotels are smaller, more budget-friendly accommodations, such as the Ocean View Hotel, Bayside Hotel, Hotel California, and Ocean Lodge Santa Monica Beach Hotel, all of which are on Ocean Avenue and start around $200 per night. If you’re on more of a budget, the Seaview Hotel, an Art Deco motel on Ocean Avenue starts at $88 per night. The Cottage, a one of a kind accommodation in Santa Monica, is a four-bedroom cottage that is ideal for families or large groups. Rates start at $2,500 per night.
DOWNTOWN SANTA MONICA/THIRD STREET PROMENADE
Downtown Santa Monica begins east of Ocean Avenue and continues for a number of blocks. While the hotels here are off the beach, some of them still feature great Pacific Ocean views and easy access. The Wyndham Santa Monica hotel is located across from the Santa Monica Pier, and is about as close as you can get to staying at the pier. Rates start at $300. Huntley Santa Monica Beach, a luxurious property on Second Street, has one of the best views in the city at its 18-story restaurant, The Penthouse, which features 360-degree views. Rates for The Huntley start at $300 per night. The Palihouse Santa Monica offers unique accommodations with grand touches and dates back to the 1920s. A short walk from Third Street Promenade and a 10-15 minute walk to the Santa Monica Pier and Beach is the Doubletree Suites by Hilton Hotel Santa Monica, with rates that start around $300.
Additional nearby hotels include Cal Mar Hotel Suites and Hotel Carmel, both of which start at about $200 per night and are just off the Third Street Promenade. Set just two blocks from the beach, Hostelling International Santa Monica budget-friendly rates in the heart of downtown. The great thing about all of these Santa Monica properties is that they are within walking distance of most of the area’s best restaurants, bars, and attractions.
The Main Street and Ocean Park area, located just a few blocks from the beach, has a local, artsy feel to it. Stroll the weekly farmers’ market Sundays on Main Street and you’ll likely be rubbing elbows with locals. Many of the Santa Monica hotels here are more budget-friendly. Located directly on Main Street (across from the Sunday farmers’ market) is the Sea Shore Motel, starting at $125 per night with 20 rooms and 5 suites. It’s just a few minutes from the beach and the neighborhood’s art galleries, shops, and restaurants.
Mid-City, the arts and entertainment neighborhood of Santa Monica, is further inland (20+ blocks away from the beach) but easily accessible by public transportation. The neighborhood is home to a number of affordable properties as well as a piece of the historic Route 66 route, Santa Monica Boulevard. This includes the Comfort Inn Santa Monica – West Los Angeles, conveniently located two miles from the beach and downtown, and Days Inn Santa Monica/Los Angeles, both of which are located on Santa Monica Boulevard with rates starting at less than $150 per night. Another option is AAA three-diamond rated Best Western Plus Gateway Hotel Santa Monica, which is also on Santa Monica Boulevard and features a convenient restaurant (International House of Pancakes) on the premises, starting at $200 per night. For a more boutique option, just a block off Santa Monica Boulevard is the The Ambrose Hotel, an eco-friendly hotel that was the first to receive the United States Green Building Council’s LEED-EB Silver Certification. Other budget accommodations near Santa Monica Boulevard include American Motel.
Pico Boulevard runs from the ocean and inland, which means it’s home to a number of accommodations ranging from luxury to budget. This includes the iconic oceanfront Shutters on the Beach featuring an on-site spa and seafood restaurant. Just a few blocks from the beach is Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica, with views of Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean. Rates at the Le Meridien Delfina start at $300 per night. As you head inland, you will find budget accommodations including Santa Monica Pico Travelodge, Ocean Park Inn as well as more basic hotel options, including Holiday Motel, Palm Motel, Santa Monica Motel and Rest Haven Motel.
OCEAN PARK BOULEVARD/SANTA MONICA AIRPORT AREA
Travelers staying around the Santa Monica Municipal Airport or Santa Monica College have a number of different budget offerings. One of the closest is the Pavilions Motel, located within walking distance of the Santa Monica airport and starting at less than $100 per night. A couple of other budget accommodations in this neighborhood include Ocean Park Inn and Ocean Park Hotel, which is located across from the airport. Both of these start at $100 per night.
On the corner of Ocean Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard, within walking distance to the beach and steps from Third Street Promenade is the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. Rates start from $300.
Montana Avenue lines the northern edge of Santa Monica and is known for its upscale boutiques and trendy restaurants. The closest hotels to Montana Avenue include Oceana Beach Club Hotel, just one block south, and Palihouse Santa Monica, two blocks south.
*Check for various seasonal rates offered at Santa Monica properties during off-season months, including late October through February.