Being a local resident in one of the most famous beach towns in the world is quite a special position. I know a LOT about Santa Monica and have a lot of advice and recommendations for those coming to visit. I have been on almost every street in Santa Monica, dined at the top spots, seen its most stunning sunsets (and its foggiest of mornings) and have run up and down almost every inch of the beach. I frequent street fairs, farmer’s markets, beach concerts, pier events and promenade parties. I am a very active part of this community because I love it here!
Now as a mom, I am at the playgrounds, parks, public libraries, splash pads with Aurora–and generally out and about all day.
Since so many friends, family and followers visit Santa Monica, I’ve made it my duty to be well equipped to answer that most important question:
“So…where should I stay?”
Some of my favorites are Fairmont Miramar, The Huntley, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, Palihouse, The Proper, Shutters on the Beach and Viceroy Santa Monica. Each have unique qualities and advantages, depending on the type of stay that you are after and your budget. I’ve stayed and/or dined at all so I can point you in the right direction if you need.
However, there’s one that I think is truly a cut above the rest right now. It’s not actually new as it’s been a fixture for decades, but Oceana feels brand new. It has recently undergone a 30 million dollar renovation (!) elevating it from very good to absolutely OUTSTANDING.
During my parents’ week stay in one of their oceanfront suites, I was able to experience (and analyze) all aspects of this hotel and here’s what I found.
The ivy clad exteriors makes it feel like Oceana is a living and breathing part of this ocean front avenue, yet after entering it’s hard to remember that there was ever a world outside. The vivid, modern coastal aesthetic was surprising–in a good way. I appreciated the nautical touches and also appreciated that they were subtle.
Throughout the property there’s a touch of whimsy, from the rope swing seats in front of interior facing suites to the vivid cloud blue onyx that adorns the fireplace and bar in the restaurants. And there’s always a fireplace nearby to remind guests that they can relax because they are home.
Oceana has 70 suites, and I experienced the Ocean View Suite on the top floor. I wasn’t prepared for what was behind that white door. A lapis and tan sitting area with ample seating, bar armoire, dining table and floor to ceiling windows. The bed faced the ocean, and though there was a large flat screen, I’d prefer the view of the waves and swaying palms.
The tiled bathroom was fresh and polished. An oversized walk in shower is always a nice touch and the bathroom was tucked out of the way to be discreet.
Nightly chocolates by the pillow and speedy room service were other bonuses.
There’s no doubt that the pool is the focal point of the hotel. Low cushioned loungers encircle this deep pool (8 ft on one end) and the banana palm pillows transported me to the tropics. Though it’s not heated, we still swam almost daily even on overcast November days, and we enjoyed the poolside dining and drinks. Note: the pool was especially great for our little girl!
Though small, the gym packs a punch! Rarely would I call a gym “beautiful” but this one is definitely attractive. Peloton machinery, Technogym equipment and the coolest wood clad weights that I’ve ever seen.
The color palette of the Dining Room was delicious. The coral hues and blue tones set an elegant stage for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I found their breakfast to be delicious (order the benedict!) and their burger was a winner for lunch.
We had poolside hummus and guacamole, both of which I’d order again.
Drinks can be enjoyed inside or out, alongside of the pool. The elevated seating area with fireplace is the perfect place for a sunset cocktail.
Possibly the best location in all of Santa Monica, Oceana has access to all the highlights but is not in the thick of it. Just removed enough from the hustle and bustle of the Pier and Promenade, yet walking distance to both. Oceana is also a few blocks from the locally loved shops and dining of Montana Avenue and directly across from the Palisades Park (best sunset viewing spot in the city). There’s also a beach path located right in front for easy access to and from the beach.
I’d recommend Oceana for couples, solo travelers and families alike, but specifically for those individuals that appreciate a calm homebase with very high quality rooms. You will want to spend time in the rooms here because these suites are expertly designed. This hotel isn’t for a “scene” or for meeting clients or for the budget conscious. Oceana is decidedly built for the discerning luxury traveler that wants to be in the heart of this beach town, but not in the thick of the crowds. I truly think if you stay here, you will be more than impressed.
BONUS: SUNSET TERRACE COMING SOON!