A Santa Monica stay on the edge of the Pacific, ivy-covered Oceana is an all-suite hotel fresh from a multi-million-dollar makeover. Let the Californication commence with beachfront yoga, hikes along the Temescal Canyon trail and bicycle rides along the promenade to the early-20th-century, rollercoaster-toting pier. The interplay between oceanic blues and beach-hut whites anchors each suite to the quintessentially Californian surroundings, and the artwork was produced by some of the most exciting artists in LA. Set flush with a terrace of geometric tiles, the postcard-perfect pool invokes the glamour of the state's most iconic hotels, forming the centrepiece of a courtyard that's destined for sun-soaked sipping.
Double rooms from £393.57 ($514), including tax at 14.195 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional of $45.00 per room per night on check-out and an additional local city tax of $5.50 per room per night on check-out.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast.
Oceana’s famous former guests include Stan Laurel, who moved into apartment 203 in 1958.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, beach, gym with Technogym equipment and Peloton bikes, daily yoga on the beach, house car and bicycles to borrow. In rooms: iPad, minibar, air-conditioning, 65” TV and Bottega Veneta bath products.
Our favourite rooms
You’re this close to the Pacific so you may as well keep looking at it: go for any of the ocean-view rooms, which are rarer than you might think in Los Angeles. There are also rooms with two queen-size beds and some with sofa beds, perfect for families.
The heart-shaped (if you squint) courtyard pool channels the retro glamour of classic LA hotels with geometric tiles, lots of greenery and striped cushions. The balconies of the bedrooms look down over it.
There’s a spa for massages, facials and beauty treatments (blowouts, manicures), which can be performed in your room if you prefer.
Bring Golden State gear, aka beach-ready clothing that you can rollerblade in.
There are four Premium Lanai Suites that have been specially adapted for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome, but there’s not a whole lot to keep mini Smiths busy. Extra beds and cots can be added to some suites, and there are family-friendly suites with either two queen-size beds or a sofa bed.
By the window for park-and-Pacific views, by the fire and its prettily painted wall, or out on the poolside veranda.
California dreamin’: Muscle Mary biceps and St Tropez tan, optional.
Oceana’s candy-coloured restaurant is open to hotel guests only, serving up classic California fare fresh from Santa Monica’s farmers’ market. Expect to enjoy dishes such as sourdough turkey clubs, crispy chicken sandwiches and chopped salads. Rich-but-delicious breakfast options include French toast with passionfruit mascarpone, blueberry and orange Dutch pancakes (with the only-in-America choice to add fried chicken), and burrata omelettes. All meals can be eaten poolside if you prefer. Coffee and tea is laid out in the lobby all morning.
There’s a cocktail bar that’s part of the restaurant, where you can sit up at the counter and order mixes that are straight out of a secret garden: the plants and herbs that bloom in the Roman gardens of the Getty Villa form the inspiration for its botanical beverages. The full restaurant menu can be ordered in the bar. A sunset terrace is coming soon to the third floor.
The restaurant and bar are open all-day from 6.30am until 10.30pm.
Everything on the restaurant menu can be ordered up as room service.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that Oceana Hotel sits on the edge of an ocean: this Pacific patch is just along the California coast from Los Angeles in Santa Monica.
LAX airport is nine miles away; the drive should take around half an hour, depending on the city’s notorious traffic. The hotel can arrange taxis for you.
Oceana is up the coast in Santa Monica; driving into LA should take around 20 minutes. There’s valet parking, which costs US$50 a night. Amazingly, for America, it’s just five minutes on foot to Santa Monica; plus, with Uber and other taxi-hailing apps readily available, you’ll be able to get around without a hire car.
Worth getting out of bed for
Welcome to sunny Santa Monica, where life’s a breeze. Grab some rollerblades, a pair of Daisy Dukes and a California tan (fake it if you need to) and head out to explore this Pacific-facing ’hood, which, as a rare treat for Los Angeles (and, let’s face it, most of America) is easy to get around on your own two legs.
Stroll in and out of the boutiques and restaurants of Montana Avenue and Third Street Promenade; borrow a beach-cruiser bicycle (the hotel has plenty) to pedal along the pier; or enlist in a yoga-on-the-beach class each morning. Sunset spritzes await up on the roof terrace. Nearby neighbourhoods to venture to include Venice Beach, Malibu and Beverly Hills.
Santa Monica Pier has been accommodating seaside revelry for over a century – roll up, roll up and join the ferris wheel, rollercoaster and hippodrome fun. If you’re there in late summer, don’t miss the Twilight on the Pier series of free concerts.
Stop off for a pre-beach-day brunch at Malibu Farm on the Pacific Coast Highway, which also does a sideline in wholesome all-American activities like pumpkin carving, gingerbread-house decorating and Thanksgiving dinners; choose from the restaurant at the start of Malibu Pier, and the café at the end of it. Marseille comes to Santa Monica via the Med-referencing menu at Massilia: steak-frites, socca chips with tapenade, and ratatouille, along with a series of silky pastas. For the best Mexican food this side of Tijuana, form an orderly line at Mercado Santa Monica. And for old-school Italian that’s been sating the carb cravings of the citizens of Santa Monica for a quarter of a century, book in at Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi (officially; more affectionately: Giorgio’s) on West Channel Road.
Head up onto the roof at Élephante Beach House, where there’s an impressive cocktail list to work your way through, and, if you don’t make it that far, delicious southern-Italian food to help absorb the alcohol.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this oceanfront hotel in California and unpacked their scripts and sneakers, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Oceana in Santa Monica…
If you’ve always dreamed of being an Angeleno, Oceana is the hotel for you: this family-friendly, Pacific-edge perch is in a pleasingly residential part of Santa Monica. It’s far enough away from the busy, bustle-y side of LA to be a peaceful beach break, but close to downtown Santa Monica for all the fun of the fair – which is mostly to be found on the pier. This 1909-built California landmark is home to everything from amusement parks to aquariums, with plenty of opportunities to mainline cotton candy and ice-cream along the way. The hotel itself has some noteworthy history, too: it was originally an apartment hotel, loved for its ocean views and perfect location by big Hollywood hitters such as Stan Laurel, who moved in back in 1958 and entertained famous friends including Dick Van Dyke at his Pacific-facing pad. There are a few palm trees and a highway between you and the ocean, but you can smell the salt in the air. So, welcome to your new ’hood.