The Santa Monica Beach Hotel Where Quiet Luxury Draws A Discerning Crowd

Let’s start with the obvious: There’s no grander hotel on the beach in Los Angeles than Casa del Mar. Built in 1926 as a private beach club, the opulent seven-story Italian Renaissance Revival building on the sand in Santa Monica lends a Gilded Age quality to an area better known for board shorts and Hot Dog On a Stick. With 129 residential-style guest rooms and 16 suites, the property is as serene and iconic as those sweeping coastal views from Palos Verdes to Malibu.

Majestic as it is, Casa del Mar often falls under the radar as an L.A. getaway. The hotel doesn’t shout its charms with flash or signage. You could walk by the entrance on quiet Ocean Way and almost not know it’s there. But that’s part of the Casa del Mar magic. It’s discreet, understated, tasteful—the picture of quiet luxury. Someone once told me that Shutters-on-the-Beach, the glitzier sister property next door, is where the marquee names stay. Casa del Mar is more for the studio chiefs.

I have a deep fondness for the location because my wife and I met outside the place many years ago. We were both waiting for a real estate agent, the guy was 45 minutes late and, well, now we have a kid in college who rolls his eyes every time drive to the Casa end of Pico Boulevard and say, “Look, that’s where it all started!”

My wife and I recently spent a night at Casa del Mar and rediscovered why it’s such an ideal spot for an overnight, whether for visitors to Los Angeles or staycationers like us. Here’s why.

It’s an oasis in the fun zone.

Some hotels make you feel cut off from the world. Casa del Mar lets you feel part of it, but with just enough distance (thanks to double-pane windows and very thick brick walls) to keep things quiet and private. Yes, you can see the the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica pier to the right, and all the tourists scooting and skating by; but you get to enjoy the scene in a peaceful room with Italian bed linens, Nespresso coffee machines, Diptyque bath products and whirlpool bathtubs. The little rubber duckies are a nice touch, too.

The spa cures what ails you.

Whether it’s a couples massage, an oxygenated facial or an ocean mineral manicure for your well-traveled hands, the Casa del Mar spa is where you can officially let go of worldly cares and simply breathe for a moment. Guests can choose between the hotel spa and the Shutters-at-the-Beach One Spa next door. Fluffy robes, steam room, slippers, the works. You deserve it, right? Right.

Yesteryear travel vibes with menus fresh from today.

Walking into the hotel’s lobby lounge and Terrazza Terrace, you could almost be on a grand ocean liner. The clubby banquettes and tables overlooking the sea make you think of days before Teslas were charging in the parking lot and monowheels were zipping along the boardwalk. At Patio del Mar, an al fresco spot at the beach level, you can get your coastal grandma on (no matter your gender) with Santa Barbara oysters and one of L.A.’s best lobster rolls.

You’re close to everything that makes Santa Monica great.

Palisades Park, surfing, Tongva Park, the Wednesday farmer’s market, Third Street Promenade, Urth Caffé and the other joys of Main Street—it’s all within walking distance of the hotel. Los Angeles is not a walking city, they say. But those people clearly haven’t stayed at Casa del Mar. It’s a place to chill, to refresh, to entertain and be entertained—and if you hang around long enough, maybe even meet the person of your dreams.

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