Get ahead of the curve – there's nary a sharp corner to be seen at luxury Santa Monica Proper hotel, which marries curvaceously contemporary Kelly Wearstler design with the achingly elegant bones of a 1920s landmark. The food is first class – including Onda, a collaboration between the chefs behind Sqirl and Contramar, opening this autumn – and the upcoming Surya Ayurvedic Spa sumptuous (the brand is one of Los Angeles’ best-kept secrets). Plus, the rooftop pool's the only one you'll find in the seaside city, so nab a lounger between some of the West Coast’s most stylish denizens and soak up the SoCal sun.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £363.73 ($475), including tax at 14.2 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of $5.75 per room per night on check-out and an additional resort fee of $34.26 per room per night on check-out.
Rates don't usually include à la carte breakfast (from $14).
At the hotel
Gym, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: a Bluetooth speaker, television, WiFi, air-conditioning, a minibar, beach bag, free bottled water, a Nespresso machine, tea and black-out curtains.
Our favourite rooms
They're all curvy beauties (the arc-shaped headboards practically guarantee sweet dreams) and all are awash with sense-delighting patterns and textures. Splash out on a spacious Premier or Proper suite for maximum lounging space, including breeze-blessed balconies.
The saltwater rooftop pool is the only one for miles around, and is quite the local hot spot (literally, considering the number of sunny days Santa Monica enjoys each year). It’s a lounger-lined space with ocean views, cabanas, a circular bar and a Med-inspired restaurant.
The Surya Ayurvedic Spa is scheduled to open at the end of the year, and is already being talked of in reverent tones by Angeleno spa lovers.
Bring your floppiest, most chic sunhat, for whiling away the days poolside on the rooftop.
There’s lift access everywhere, and several categories of ADA-compliant accessible rooms.
The Leed-certified hotel has been partially renovated and partially built from scratch, and all with the environment in mind. The kitchen’s keen on sourcing local, seasonal and organic ingredients, too.
Grab a spot with ocean views up on the roof while working your way through Calabra's menu. In Palma, a bar stool will be your best bet for watching the mixologist at work.
Officially, you needn't dress up. But a casually elegant 'this old thing?' you've picked up at one of the boutiques on Abbot Kinney in neighbouring Venice wouldn't go amiss.
There are three, and they're all proper good. Palma, the lobby lounge, is a chilled-out frond-fringed spot serving casual snacks and serious cocktails. Up on the roof, indoor-outdoor Calabra is a Mediterranean-inspired bistro. And Onda (Spanish for 'wave') is set to open in October as Proper's signature restaurant. The menu – a collaboration between chefs Gabriela Cámara of Mexico City's celebrated Contramar and Jessica Koslow of ever-packed LA favourite Sqirl – will star seasonal local ingredients with bold Latin flavours.
Go low or go high: some serious drinks are poured downstairs at lobby bar Palma, home to small-batch mezcals et al; sip sunset cocktails poolside on the roof at Calabra.
You'll be breakfasting 7am–11am at Palma, which then serves an eclectic batch of small bites till 11pm. Calabra's open to hotel guests only from 11am to 5pm, then non-residents are welcome too, till closing at 11pm.
Snacks and drinks can be delivered to your room 6am–11am daily.
You’ll find Santa Monica Proper in the heart of the small city, a 15-minute stroll from the beach.
Touch down at LAX, the air-travel behemoth that’s just down the coast and served by domestic and international flights from all over the globe. It’s a roughly 20-minute drive, if the traffic’s cooperating.
The locals almost all drive, but Santa Monica’s a decidedly walkable setting (and in bad traffic, which is common, you’ll probably be faster on foot). Taxis and Ubers are plentiful if you’d rather not take the wheel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Once you've sipped and supped in every one of the hotel restaurants, lounged by the rooftop pool and reached a new level of wellness in the spa, it's time to get out and explore the neighbourhood. Santa Monica Beach (where the famous pier is a kitschy pleasure) is a short stroll away, if the ocean views from the roof aren't enough: pick up one of the myriad rental bikes or scooters dotting the pavements and hit the cycle path down the coast to Venice Beach if you're feeling vaguely sporty (make your way to the Venice Canals to wander the bridges and admire some particularly enviable homes instead if you're not a sand fan). If all that sounds like far too much activity, do what's possibly the exact opposite of cycling: cross the road to Proper's neighbour Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee (the butter-and-salt doughnuts are a simple classic, or branch out and try the maple and bacon).
Alongside the near-endless in-house edibles, you’re surrounded by LA’s fine-diners. Dialogue’s intricate multi-course tasting menu will certainly get you talking; Uovo’s handmade pasta comes straight from a Bolognese kitchen and Orto follows suit with refined Italian fare. Umami Burger and Chomp both put Maccy D’s to shame: the former has the ‘Trufflemaker’ with charred-green-chilli salsa and port wine and the latter’s come laden with infused mustards, applewood bacon and other tasty things.
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 luxury hotel in Santa Monica and unpacked their sunhats and shades, a full account of their Southern California city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Santa Monica Proper in California…
It’s a short walk from the heart of the city to the postcard-perfect Santa Monica seaside, and an even shorter journey from the 1920s to modern day at Santa Monica Proper. Marrying a thoroughly modern new edifice with the evocative shell of a 1920s landmark, the luxury hotel has created a seamlessly stylish stay packed to the sun-soaked brim with designer Kelly Wearstler’s signature flourishes. (The city’s only rooftop pool is the cherry on top.)