I’ve spent quite a lot of time in LA, mostly in Venice Beach and Beverly Hills; so staying in Santa Monica for the first time was a bit of a revelation, and as soon as I saw the white Art Deco facade of the Hotel Shangri-La I knew I was going to absolutely love this hotel. It just looks and feels quintessentially Californian, cool and elegant with a laidback vibe.
Built in 1939 and renovated in 2008, the Hotel Shangri-La is the epitome of ‘luxury boutique’; it’s located right opposite Santa Monica Beach on Ocean Avenue, so you can wake up to the glorious sunrise with the palm trees swaying in the breeze and drink your Nespresso on your balcony in your white fluffy robe feeling like a film star. No wonder the likes of Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton and Madonna have chosen to stay here.
The 71 rooms, decorated in white, grey and black with splashes of scarlet, have views of the Pacific Ocean and Art Deco influences (Streamline Moderne if you want to get really specific) and original features without making it feel as though you’re in a museum. Bathrooms are marble with L’Occitane products. My suite also had a cuisinette and sitting room; it was basically the size of a London one bed flat.
There are lots of interesting features around the hotel dating back to the 1930s; I was particularly entranced by this spectacular chandelier in the elevator – isn’t it beautiful?
But there are some very chic modern touches too. The Onyx rooftop bar, which is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s best, is particularly gorgeous, small but perfectly formed, ideal for having aperitifs or nightcaps on a balmy LA evening. And of course there’s free wifi throughout.
I fell completely in love with the Hotel Shangri-La swimming pool – it was like being on the set of a Hollywood movie, with the black and white stripes and pink towels; everything was just so darn cool.
My American breakfast, with buttery scrambled eggs, melt-in-the-mouth hash brown and crispy bacon was served in the sunshine-bathed Dining Room. And service throughout the hotel was warm, welcoming and super efficient – everyone I spoke to was friendly and helpful.
I would recommend the Hotel Shangri-La to anyone spending a few nights in LA looking for a glamorous, stylish retreat.