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- Best Overall: Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Fun fact: accommodations were decorated by Michael S. Smith, who also worked on President Obama’s living quarters in the White House."
- Best Budget: Sea Shore Motel – See Rates at TripAdvisor "There are just 25 rooms at the Sea Shore Motel, and while their decor may be a little dated, they’re clean and comfortable."
- Best Boutique: Palihouse Santa Monica – See Rates at TripAdvisor "There are only 38 rooms here, which range from standard accommodations to two-bedroom suites with kitchens."
- Best for Families: Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Child-friendly amenities include a welcome toy upon arrival, small bathrobes, beachy activities and games."
- Best for Romance: Malibu Beach Inn – See Rates at TripAdvisor "The decor leans toward Scandinavian minimalism, as rooms feature streamlined white-oak furniture."
- Best for Luxury: Hotel Casa del Mar, Santa Monica – See Rates at TripAdvisor "If they’re not on the beach during the day, guests can be found lounging by the oceanfront pool and hot tub."
- Best Historic: The Georgian Hotel – See Rates at TripAdvisor "The hotel is certainly proud of its Art Deco heritage, sporting a teal façade with striped awnings that make it stand out."
- Best B&B: Channel Road Inn, a Four Sisters Inn – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Some rooms have fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and private balconies overlooking the garden or with partial views of the sea."
- Best for Nightlife: Hotel Erwin – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Located in bohemian Venice, the 119-room Hotel Erwin draws its inspiration from the vibrant culture around it."
Best Overall: Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica
Despite Los Angeles’s beachy reputation, there are only two hotels in the city with direct beach access: Shutters on the Beach and its sister, Hotel Casa del Mar (located on the same property). As such, you’ll find a mix of locals, travelers and even celebrities dropping by for luxurious amenities and beach access. The hotel has 198 rooms, 12 of which are suites, all decorated in casual California coastal style with white-wood built-ins, striped armchairs and slatted shutters on the windows. Fun fact: accommodations were decorated by Michael S. Smith, who also worked on President Obama’s living quarters in the White House. Though proximity to the beach is one of the hotel’s major draws, there’s also a pool surrounded by loungers and private cabanas. As for other amenities, there’s a spa, a gym and three restaurants and bars: the upscale 1 Pico, the casual Coast Café and Bar, and the Living Room, which serves light bites, cocktails and afternoon tea — sometimes with live jazz music.
Best Budget: Sea Shore Motel
In Los Angeles, “budget” and “beach” are rarely listed in the same hotel description, but at the Sea Shore Motel, you can easily get both. Like most “beach” properties in the city, the motel is actually a few blocks away from the ocean, but it’s only a five-minute walk to the sand. There are just 25 rooms at the Sea Shore Motel, and while their decor may be a little dated (rattan furniture with tropical upholstery, terracotta tiles and generic wall art), they’re clean and comfortable. If you upgrade to a deluxe suite, you’ll get much roomier accommodations with a full kitchen. In any event, guests usually spend most of their time out and about. Amenities are more or less nonexistent, save for a sun deck on the roof and a coffee shop adjacent to the property, but the Sea Shore Motel’s prime location on Main Street means that restaurants, galleries and shops are all within easy walking distance.
Best Boutique: Palihouse Santa Monica
Housed in a historic Spanish Revival mansion — which opened in 1927 and has been continuously operated as a hotel ever since — the boutique Palihouse Santa Monica sits just three blocks from the beach in a great location near the Third Avenue Promenade. The Palihouse brand is known for its quirky decor, and its Santa Monica property is no exception. While details like wood-beamed ceilings and marble fireplaces nod to the original architecture of the building, there’s also plenty of taxidermies, funky-patterned wallpaper and vintage velvet furniture to keep things tastefully weird. There are only 38 rooms here, which range from standard accommodations to two-bedroom suites with kitchens, making the property feel quite intimate. Amenities are essentially limited to the multipurpose lobby that serves as a lounge and gathering space for guests, a restaurant serving healthy Californian dishes and a bar that offers free cookies and lemonade from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Best for Families: Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
A five-acre oasis at the end of Wilshire Boulevard, the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows is a gated property that feels worlds removed from the crowded streets of Los Angeles. Need convincing? Take note of the property’s centerpiece — the Moreton Bay Fig Tree, which was planted in the 1880s, as well as a calming koi pond with waterfalls. Though all types of travelers would feel comfortable at the hotel, it’s a great choice for those traveling with kids. The 302-room property has a large range of room types, but the suites and the bungalows, though pricey, are the best for families, as they offer the most space. Child-friendly amenities include a welcome toy upon arrival, small bathrobes and beachy activities and games at the seasonal Miramar Beach Club (complimentary for all guests). Adults can indulge in the spa, a blow-dry bar and barber shop, a fitness center with classes, and the popular Mediterranean restaurant Fig. Pets are more than welcome here, too — and at no additional charge.
Best for Romance: Malibu Beach Inn
Situated in Malibu just off the Pacific Coast Highway, the elegant Malibu Beach Inn has just 47 rooms, making it an intimate property. It’s part of a stretch known as Billionaire’s Beach (official name: Carbon Beach), so you can expect the utmost luxury here, though with the laid-back vibes California is known for. The decor leans toward Scandinavian minimalism: rooms feature streamlined white-oak furniture and a simple beige, blue and gray color scheme. They also have private balconies overlooking the sea and gas fireplaces for a cozy touch. Though the Malibu Beach Inn doesn’t have its own pool, the beach here is swimmable, so guests flock to the loungers on the sand. There’s also an on-site restaurant with a great deck overlooking the beach — an ideal spot for romantic dinners — and guests can actually order meals here to be served directly on the sand. The hotel is also within walking distance of a Nobu restaurant and Little Beach House Malibu, part of the Soho House club.
Best for Luxury: Hotel Casa del Mar, Santa Monica
Opened in 1926 as a private beach club that attracted Hollywood’s finest, the Italian-style Casa del Mar has had a long and interesting history. During World War II, it housed soldiers, and when the beach club closed in 1960, it became a drug rehabilitation center, then a nutrition and health facility. Today, it’s returned to being one of the most luxurious hotels in Los Angeles, located right near the Santa Monica Pier and Main Street with direct beach access — a rarity in the city. The 145-room property has gorgeously appointed blue-and-beige guest rooms that feature four-poster beds, arched windows and marble bathrooms with whirlpool tubs. If they’re not on the beach during the day, guests can be found lounging by the oceanfront pool and hot tub, indulging in a massage or a facial at the spa, or dining at one of the hotel’s two restaurants, Terrazza and Catch.
Best Historic: The Georgian Hotel
South Beach, Miami, might take the cake when it comes to Art Deco beach hotels, but Los Angeles has its star too: The Georgian Hotel, an eight-story circa-1933 tower. For decades, it catered to Hollywood stars like Clark Gable and even mobster Bugsy Siegel, who frequented the hotel’s basement speakeasy. The hotel is certainly proud of its Art Deco heritage, sporting a teal façade with striped awnings that make it stand out among its neighboring Spanish- and Italian-inspired competitors. Inside, the decor is more contemporary, but there are still hints of Art Deco with geometric upholstery on the chairs in the lobby as well as the carpets in the 84 rooms. There aren’t many amenities at this historic property, save for the restaurant, Veranda, which serves brunch, dinner and cocktails, but its proximity to the beach and the Third Avenue Promenade mean that entertainment is only a short walk away.
Best B&B: Channel Road Inn, a Four Sisters Inn
Built in 1910, this colonial house-turned-inn sits just a two-minute walk from the beach in a quiet area of Santa Monica. It has 15 guest rooms with private baths, each individually decorated with a country-chic aesthetic (white-washed wood furniture, including some four-poster beds; floral fabrics; billowy white curtains and hardwood floors). Some rooms even have fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and private balconies overlooking the garden or with partial views of the sea. As the hotel is a proper B&B, breakfast is complimentary and served buffet-style in the dining room, and an afternoon wine tasting and hors-d'oeuvres are free, too. Though there’s no formal restaurant on site, guests can walk to several dining options or order delivery straight to their rooms. During the day and in the evenings, guests congregate in common areas like the living-room style lounge, the wicker-furniture-filled sunroom and the veranda out front. As for bonus amenities, there’s a massage treatment room and a hot tub in the garden.
Best for Nightlife: Hotel Erwin
Located in bohemian Venice, the 119-room Hotel Erwin draws its inspiration from the vibrant culture around it. Here, decor riffs on the neighborhood’s street art with playful murals, but also nods to the seashore located just a block away via retro wood furniture, polka dotted and striped fabrics and cool blue hues. For a sit-down dinner, there’s the Barlo Kitchen + Cocktails restaurant on the ground floor, which is a great spot to start the night via happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. While the hotel's atmosphere is decidedly casual, the party gets started up at the High Rooftop Lounge — one of the best rooftop bars in the city. Patrons can order cocktails and light bites off the menu, or they can splurge on bottle service if they’re feeling swanky. Of course, as a super popular spot, you’ll have to wait in a bit of a line to get in, but the sunset views are worth it. Plus, DJs spin late into the night, so it’s a fun one-stop shop for a great evening out with friends.