Los Angeles International – better known as LAX – is around 40 minutes' drive away, and is served by a constant stream of flights from around the country and the world.
LA's elegant rail hub, Union Station, is downtown, way over on the other side of the metropolis, so isn't particularly suited to Santa Monica stays unless you're a truly dedicated train buff. (And if you are, you can travel south to San Diego and north up the coast).
As the Los Angeles region goes, Santa Monica's spectacularly walkable – between beachfront strolls and the odd Uber, you can easily do without a car. But if you do find yourself tempted to join the LA traffic (and most locals will tell you it's impossible to go auto-less here) then valet parking is available for $39 a night.
Worth getting out of bed for
The most obvious attraction to Palihouse's prime Santa Monica location is that great big ocean five minutes' walk away: the golden sands of Santa Monica stretch north into exclusive Malibu and south into tourist-packed-but-must-visit Venice, with plenty of cycling, sunbathing and selfie-taking to be done along the way. (The paved beach path south is perfect for leisurely strolls or more strenous workouts, on foot or by bike.)
Once you reach Venice Beach and have checked out the rollerbladers and artists' stalls, turn inland to explore the canals that gave the neighbourhood its name: they're surprisingly serene. Abbott Kinney Blvd is the top shopping spot, with design dens aplenty (and the odd holdover from the street's hippie heyday).
Local favourites include coffee hub Demitasse Café, sprawling cocktail club The Bungalow, Blue Plate Oysterette, seafood centre Water Grill and the the Santa Monica Farmer's Market (the ideal place to stock your kitchenette) – all are a few minutes' walk away. For a properly unpretentious hangout, head to Big Dean's by the beach: the burgers are the best, the locals are friendly, and there's generally sports on the TV; legendary dive Chez Jay is the place for a Bloody Mary when your hangover needs company. And for something completely different, Shutters on the Beach is a preppy Californian classic, all piano tinkling away in the corner and fine dining with exquisite sea views.
Alchemie Spa is an all-organic beauty and wellbeing retreat a few blocks down the coast, and if you're after something healthy as a follow up to your shiatsu session or infrared sauna trip, keep heading south to Pressed Juicery.