The California hotel that doesn’t feel like a hotel

A super-sophisticated, ultra-chic haven in Santa Monica

Two years ago my 18-year-old daughter and I made a memorable road trip along Route 1, and since then we’ve been pining for California. So this year, persuaded by one of BA’s big sales, and telling myself that the dollar was a more tempting proposition than the euro, we went back west and headed to Los Angeles for a holiday. We wanted to spend some time in Santa Monica, as we’d stayed in Venice last time, but the well-known hotels were either full or madly pricy, so I opted for the lesser known, low-key Oceana Hotel, a bit of a gamble that turned out to be a real winner.

The Oceana’s rather dull website makes the decor look a bit dodgy, so, as we left the wonderful, cool “W” in Westwood where we stayed for the first week, and moved on to Santa Monica, I was a bit trepidatious; but we were thrilled to walk into a super-sophisticated, ultra-chic haven. A former apartment block, where Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy) once lived, the Oceana is very un-hotel-like, charming, intimate, with a beach-house vibe, a lobby that’s a library, a chic, comfortable lounge (first picture), a dining room that’s a California kitchen, and rooms, many of them suites, that run around a central courtyard with the pool and restaurant (second picture).


The room was huge, with those sublimely comfortable American beds, and an equally huge bathroom, all furnished in contemporary California beachside style. The food in the Hideaway Italian-style restaurant was excellent, breakfasts immense, with cornmeal pancakes to die (or diet) for. Most of all, the Oceana has the friendliest, most helpful staff – wonderful for a stressed out, antsy Londoner like me. I just hope BA has a big sale same time next year.


From $345-$525 for a standard room; up to $1,250 for a suite.

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