Gorgeous seaside boutique hotel the Viceroy Santa Monica takes its looks – and its vocation – seriously: parakeet-green Chesterfields partner dazzling white modernist occasional tables; deco-style gazebos are decked out with French dining furniture, and fresh-as-a-daisy decor awaits in the light and airy guest rooms. Lush, secluded grounds provide a tranquil escape from the exciting bustle of the nearby boutique strip with its upscale shops, restaurants and beach life.
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Welcome drinks for two; SilverSmith and GoldSmith members get a 2pm late check-out too, subject to availability
11am, but may be extended on request (subject to availability); earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £361.76 ($450), including tax at 15.2 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of $5.50 per room per night on check-out and an additional resort fee of $37.69 per room per night on check-out.
Rates exclude breakfast; à la carte available from US$10. A $40 (plus tax) resort fee, a room, each night applies – this covers WiFi, a welcome drink, fitness classes by Beach SoCal Yoga, bottled water, bike hire, and access to the fitness centre.
The amenities fee entitles guests to extra goodies, such as 10 per cent off food in the Cast Restaurant and Lounge (excluding alcohol), maps of running and cycling routes (and staff will send you off with free bottled water), and a range of partner discounts.
At the hotel
Two outdoor swimming pools, 24-hour fitness centre, WiFi throughout. In rooms: minibar and beauty bar, flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player.
Our favourite rooms
The Ocean View Viceroy rooms live up to their moniker, with sea vistas that stretch up and down the coast. For oversized bathrooms with enough space for marble wet rooms, vanity tables and cat-swinging, go for a Grande Room or Empire Suite.
The two outdoor pools are on a sleek terrace, romantically lit with white candelabra by night. Reserve a poolside cabana (at an extra cost) to make pool time a party.
Don't worry if you leave your sun protection or skincare behind, as you can buy everything on site. Leave your bicycle at home – the hotel has bikes to borrow for guests.
Up to two pets (under 50 pounds) can stay for a non-refundable $125 per pet, per stay. Pups will be spoiled with a custom Viceroy dog bed, leash, food and water bowls, plush toys and turndown treats. See more pet-friendly hotels in Santa Monica.
Rollaway beds can be provided for US$50. The concierge team is happy to help you find distractions for your miniature sidekicks, including surfing lessons and child-friendly outings.
The outdoor tables are very romantic, but for maximum privacy, reserve an outdoor cabana and dine al fresco
On the smarter side of casual: jeans with heels and t-shirts with jackets (unless you’re by the pool, of course).
Alfresco Sugar Palm serves a Mediterranean-style sharing menu under the shade of Santa Monica’s signature palm trees. Dishes of wagyu sashimi, shishito peppers, garlic-infused grilled artichokes, mezze platters and charred octopus are paired with custom cocktails and an array of California’s finest chardonnays. In the mornings, a brunch menu offers bites like brekkie burritos, fried chicken and waffles, eggs how you like ‘em, and baked pancakes. If you're headed for a day trip, ask the restaurant to make you up one of their signature picnic baskets with a cheese board, crudite, fruit bowl and (virgin) blood mary mix.
Sit poolside and sip on a vodka-based Rose Moon, craft beers or vinos from the valley at Sugar Palm's bar.
Brunch is served daily from 6.30am till 2.30pm. The dinner menu is available from 3pm and serving stops at 10pm.
Order straight to your door between 6am to 10.30am, and 4pm to 9pm.
Just across Ocean Avenue from Santa Monica's famed oceanfront and beach, Viceroy Santa Monica hotel is conveniently located for exploring this sun-soaked Los Angeles enclave.
LAX airport is 10 miles from the hotel, a 20- to 45-minute drive, depending upon traffic. Most major international airlines – including British Airways (www.ba.com), Delta (www.delta.com) and Qantas (www.qantas.com.au) – fly there directly from major cities daily. Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport is only slightly further away and is a destination for domestic flights from around the US for airlines such as Southwest (www.southwest.com), American (www.aa.com) and Delta.
LA's main rail hub, Union Station, is a 30-minute drive away. Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) runs services that link up the country, and Metrolink (www.metrolinktrains.com) trains connect Southern California.
A car is advised if you want the freedom to explore Los Angeles, a city dependent upon driving. Valet parking is available for $55 a night, plus tax.
Worth getting out of bed for
At the hotel, there are two pools to dip in and out of. Yoga classes are held on the beach, and in further pursuit of the body beautiful, the hotel can outline running routes and arrange bike hire, paddleboarding and surfing. Or you can try your luck at the Pier's trapeze school. The carousels, rollercoasters, fun stalls and twinkly lights of the iconic Santa Monica Pier are a siren call to anyone who's ever dreamed of SoCal sunshine or watched the opening credits of any LA-based TV show. Early in the year, you can even spot grey whales from the west end of the pier. The pier also hosts concerts and plays, usually at sunset and often free. The hotel has a hitlist of well-regarded local spas, or you can amble along the Ocean Front Walk, stopping to pop in to shops along the way. Admire both the art and architecture of the Getty Center, or for something edgier swing by the Hammer Museum. To trace art from ancient times to the present, LACMA acts as a timeline.
Next door neighbour Herringboneis open daily for fresh, seafood-centric dinners – choose sharing plates in boat-size-order of skiff, sailboat or yacht, and decadent weekend brunches that include sticky cinnamon rolls, stone crab and avocado toast and lemon-sprinkled lobster rolls. Capo on Ocean Avenue is a long-time favourite for fine-dining Italian cuisine with an elegant rustic vibe and delicious lobster risotto. The trendier Tar & Roses takes a local approach to farm-fresh Italian cuisine, with a seriously impressive wine list, to boot. For fabulous views over the beach and Santa Monica Pier, head to The Lobster on Ocean Avenue, whose fresh seafood is just as worthy of attention. A few blocks inland, Mélisse offers decadent tasting menus designed by chef Josiah Citrin; reservations a must.
Pulling up outside the Viceroy Santa Monica on a sunny afternoon, I am instantly reminded of idyllic childhood summers spent at the Grand Hotel in Michigan. That particular hotel, with its vibrant Hollywood Regency-style mix of baroque and Chinoiserie, has influenced my style choices ever since. Glamour is everything to me, so it’s important – no, essential – for my surroundings to reflect that. How wonderful, then, it is to pass the Viceroy’s valets and stride into an elegant, colourful foyer filled with vivid kelly green vases, and French-style chairs and chaises. Already, I feel as though I might just be in the most fabulous hotel in Los Angeles.
Accompanying me today are my two best friends – one, alas, now a Miss Smith after a recent break-up – and we head into the dining room for the Viceroy’s famous Sunday brunch. We order a round of delicious Mimosas, made with freshly squeezed orange juice, and make for the buffet tables. We eschew the obvious sweet choices – even I can bake a tasty scone – and indulge in the shortbread with lemon curd and waffles with cappuccino-flavoured cream.
We walk out to the poolside area with a fresh round of Mimosas following close behind. Sun-yellow wing-backed chairs are set around an electric-blue pool in front of white cabanas with art deco details. The people-watching isn’t so spectacular today – and aside from we three ladies with our red lips and vintage attire, there’s just the handsome waitstaff to watch at the water’s edge. Miss Smith calls a hot young guy over and asks him to touch up her chipped red nail polish, which he does with panache. Poor chap, though, having to put the ‘man’ into ‘manicure’ while three ladies, tipsy on champagne cocktails, watch and giggle.
Afterwards, I check into my ocean-view Empire suite. It’s perfect. Each door is painted in a brilliant green, with French hardware in gleaming silver, and there’s enough design ideas here to keep me going for life. I adore the damask wallpaper and smoked mirrored walls, the leaf-green chairs with Chinoiserie details, crystal wall sconces and orchids on the white cocktail table. There’s ample counter space for my beauty products, oodles of closet room and mirrors everywhere. It’s so difficult to find the right space, lighting and mood suitable for getting red-carpet ready, but this is definitely the real deal.
After devoting an hour or so to making myself as glamorous as my surroundings, I head down to dinner in the hotel’s acclaimed Whist restaurant. The lighting is cover-shoot impeccable. My friends are all good-looking girls, but in this sexy and subdued atmosphere they look simply ravishing. We immediately make a pact to use this restaurant as a seduction tool in future. I order an exquisitely perfumed lavender martini from the impressive cocktail menu and sit back to watch the stylish, buzzing crowd. What happens next only ever occurs in the chicest of chic restaurants: the waiter brings me a black napkin because I’m wearing a black dress. I’m absolutely devoted to this place – and the starters haven’t even arrived yet.
The food is divine – and I know this because I tried a bite from everyone’s plate. The seared tuna, lamb ravioli and seafood ceviche are just superb, but it’s the bread pudding and Earl Grey ice-cream that’s perhaps the highlight. I have a second lavender martini, and quite possibly a third. I can’t be too sure… Afterwards, when we decide to head to a club downtown, the hotel has a car ready for us in exactly 15 minutes.
It’s heaven to slip into my marshmallowy bed at 4am, and I sleep better than I have in ages. When I wake up, there’s not even a touch of a hangover. I order up the best plate of huevos rancheros I can recall, and wash it down with a yummy blueberry smoothie. When I finally make it downstairs around lunchtime, Miss Smith is waiting for me in the bar. We call for two more of the now-legendary lavender martinis.
I am struck by how reluctant I am to check out. I’ve been looking for the refinement, elegance and tradition of those girlhood summers all my life, and the Viceroy combines the same classic old-Hollywood style with modern chic and sophistication. I’ll definitely be coming back for a weekend soon. Hopefully with a very lucky Mr Smith in tow.