Many L.A. neighborhoods regularly welcome new hotels, but Santa Monica not so often. Until earlier this year, Ocean Avenue hadn’t seen a fresh property open in 11 years. But the debut of The Georgian in April seems to have kicked off a new chapter for the classic coastal city, which in recent months has also been blessed with two major hotel transformations and, later this year, will see another brand-new luxury bolthole added to its beloved seafront strip.
And there’s all the more reason to plan a trip or staycation in order to sample the area’s latest foodie favorites such as Coucou (218 Main Street), a convivial Cali-French mashup bistro in a former art gallery just over the border in Venice, and Isla (2424 Main Street), serving wood-fired seafood and potent cocktails. Also hot: Bar Monette (109 Santa Monica Blvd.), the hood’s latest source for perfectly blistered pizza thanks to chef Sean MacDonald.
THE PIERSIDE HOTEL
Opposite the famed Santa Monica Pier, this former Wyndham underwent a multi-million dollar makeover to become The Pierside Hotel, a breezy 132-room lifestyle hotel with a massive Shepard Fairey mural and in-house gear rentals at The Board Shop — think rollerblades, fishing rods, GoPro cameras, beach cruisers and skateboards. Board games and video game consoles are available to check out and use in the chic new neutral-toned, light-drenched rooms with splashes of ocean blue. Santa Monica Picnic Co. offers guests beach butler services, which includes setups with beach games, speakers, fairy lights and outdoor rugs. In the coming months they’ll also offer picnics from chef David Yamaguchi’s upcoming restaurant The Surfing Fox. The all-day restaurant debuts this summer with an open-air patio and staples such as ceviche, fish tacos and fried chicken sandwiches, plus a menu for dogs, who are quite welcome. 120 Colorado Ave., from $475 a night
VICEROY SANTA MONICA
Local art is at the heart of the new look of the very first Viceroy property, which was treated to a $21 million dollar renovation unveiled this spring. Los Angeles artists Priscilla Witte, Erin Miller Wray and Kelsey Fisher are behind the playful original works that now hang in each of the 169 sunny, midcentury-styled rooms and suites at the Viceroy Santa Monica. There are several vivid murals in public spaces and the all-new lobby features an ever-changing digital work by Karen Bystedt featuring photos she took of Andy Warhol with Santa Monica surf and skate scenes. Meanwhile, at Sugar Palm, chef Jason Francisco offers a robust range of plant-based options full of umami flavor (such as a vegan mezze board). while also focusing on reducing food waste. 1819 Ocean Ave., from $550 a night
THE GEORGIAN HOTEL
A yearlong restoration of this Art Deco circa-1933 Santa Monica icon — in years past a getaway for stars like Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin — has resulted in a vibrant and cinematic new look for The Georgian Hotel, while retaining its original charm.. A trio of design and branding firms masterminded the reimagining of not only the 56 rooms and 28 one-bedroom suites with striking ocean views but the entire guest experience. That includes the historic Wes Anderson-esque lobby, plus contemporary Gallery 33 (where Sharon Stone staged her first show in March) and the Library with an impressive curation comprising Joan Didion, Eve Babitz and a Hugo Guinness collection. Each guest room is gorgeous, but the suites boast the most unique amenities: Polaroid cameras, Victrola record players plus vinyl, and a floor-to-ceiling brass bar with an ornate button to press for requests like Champagne delivery. In April, The Restaurant at The Georgian opened with a coastal Italian menu, but there’s also a 1918 Steinway piano in the discreet subterranean space beneath, known as The Georgian Room, which is now in action again for the first time in half a century, since the likes of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable used it as their secret hang. 1415 Ocean Ave., rooms from $700 a night
REGENT SANTA MONICA BEACH
The most anticipated coastal opening of the year is the Regent Santa Monica Beach, which come Q4 will be the first Regent in the Americas by the ultra-luxury UK-based hotel group created in part by illustrious Aman founder Adrian Zecha. Taking over the former Loews hotel on Ocean Avenue, the property is currently in the midst of a complete transformation that promises a beachfront deck with multiple pools, some of the most spacious — and serene — hotel rooms and suites in Los Angeles, a comprehensive spa and beach butler service. A yet-to-be-announced celebrity chef is designing a brand-new restaurant concept, too.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.