Few places in the world can truly claim to combine the very best of both beach and city life in one location. But for me, Santa Monica is one such…
Just a short drive from the bright lights of LA and set on a coast road that heads from north to south past many of California’s most picturesque spots, Santa Monica is superbly located for enjoying a luxury holiday in the west coast state.
So why should you visit and where should you stay if California comes calling?
What to do
Suitable for couples, families, single travellers and for myriad ‘reasons’ – whether a luxury spa break, a gastronomic adventure or a high-end shopping trip - you’ll be spoilt for choice by all there is to do in Santa Monica.
The area’s famous beaches are surely its most well-known attraction, and whether like me you like to get in the water for a surf or swim, or simply laze on the sands and soak up those California rays, the four miles of Santa Monica beaches will be a highlight of your stay. One of the latest celebrity crazes here is SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) – a lesson in which is a great way to burn calories, learn something new and have fun!
An iconic landmark not to be missed is the 110-year-old Santa Monica Pier; the official end of Route 66 and a sublime spot to watch the epic west coast sunset. Have a giggle on some of the traditional fairground amusement rides or take a look beneath the waves at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.
To get a real sense of the area, nothing beats a cycle along the front, along Santa Monica and Venice Beach. This was for me a particularly memorable part of my stay, and if you have the time a guided cycle tour will give you the best insight. En route you’ll spot the beach clubs of Beverly Hills 90210, the world-famous Venice Beach boardwalk, Muscle Beach and the beachside skate park – which was a great photo opportunity.
With more than 120 museums, galleries and public art installations, Santa Monica has a vibrant and cutting-edge arts scene. Fans of contemporary art should head to Broadway Gallery Complex, or for performing arts, the 3rd Street Promenade is the place to watch incredible street performances.
For designer brands and Santa Monica souvenirs, Montana Avenue is the place to venture to, with the many top and varied food and drink outlets providing ample opportunity to indulge your tastebuds. And speaking of food, it’s well worth a trip to a farmers market while you’re in town, where a buzzing atmosphere is created by live music, vibrant local produce… and the chance to spot celebrity chefs picking up their favourite ingredients!
Of course, your Inspiring Travel Specialist can offer plenty more in the way of ideas to spend your time in Santa Monica, and also book you and your companions onto experiences to remember, from celebrity personal trainer workouts to an LA helicopter tour with Malibu landing and shoreline picnic.
Where to stay
As you would expect from the Inspiring Travel Company, our portfolio of hotels in Santa Monica offers only the very best in terms of luxury and style. Our highlights include:
Shutters on the Beach – right on the oceanfront and a stone’s throw from the famous pier, this coastal chic retreat is inspired by Cape Cod design… think seaside details, white wood and ocean views.
Hotel Casa del Mar – just down the beach, this 1926 hotel is something of a Santa Monica icon, with flawless views of the beach and home to the legendary Catch restaurant. Book one of the two-storey penthouses for an experience bar none.
Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows – within five acres, this luxury hotel has the benefit of extensive facilities and plenty of space for your Santa Monica stay. For families, the 32 secluded garden bungalows are ideal.
Loews Santa Monica – an award-winning swimming pool overlooking the ocean and a local seafood and farmers market-sourced restaurant are highlights of this 347-room luxury laidback hotel.
Viceroy Santa Monica – sophisticated and elegant, this celebrity favourite has been inspired by the ocean in its design. For added luxury, we recommend asking your Travel Specialist to pre-book one of the coveted poolside cabanas.