Santa Monica: Shutters on the Beach
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Shutters on the BeachOne Pico Boulevard 90405 Santa Monica, CA, United States 310/458-0030 shuttersonthebeach.com
Don't MissA signature "Ocean" healing treatment at ONE Spa, featuring a massage, sea salt scrub, and sea algae hydrating masque, rinsed off with a warm tropical rain shower.
Cocktails in the Living Room lounge or outdoor lobby terrace as the sun sinks into the ocean.
Three-course prix-fixe farmers' market dinners, $29, at Coast restaurant every Wednesday, showcasing the bounty of the renowned Santa Monica Farmers' Market.
Original artwork gracing the walls, by such luminaries as David Hockney, Robert Motherwell, and Roy Lichtenstein.
- 186 guestrooms and 12 suites, most with ocean or pool views and balconies
- In-room LCD TVs, hi-speed Wi-Fi, and well-chosen books on design and local history
- Spacious bathrooms with whirlpool tubs and peekaboo shutters that open to frame an outdoor vista
- "Bath and Beach" chest stocked with creative travel essentials and indulgences
- ONE Spa
- Health club with TechnoGym exercise equipment, steam rooms, and saunas
- Outdoor pool terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean
One look at the lapping waves a shell's toss from my ocean-facing aerie—if my arms were a bit longer, my fingers could have grazed the swaying palms just beyond my balcony—and I was secretly thrilled that my socked-in ears stood between me and a flight home. Toned locals strode along the bike path beneath my window, along one of the loveliest stretches of Pacific coastline this side of Big Sur. The century-old Santa Monica Pier jutted playfully out to sea a few hundred yards up the beach, its iconic Ferris wheel an exuberant neon pinwheel come nightfall. Had my hearing not been muffled, I might have heard strains of live jazz wafting up from the stylish yet cozy Living Room lounge down in the lobby.
My room itself held equal delights: a king-sized bed dressed in Italian Fili d'Oro linens and fine Indian cotton textiles; a glass-doored marble shower and deep whirlpool tub with underwater disco lights; a whimsical sailor-themed juggling kit and transporting touches like a bedside copy of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and artful sea fans, a lacy type of coral, framed in bamboo. Décor was Martha's Vineyard-meets-Santa Monica: soothing blues and whites set off against walnut furnishings, with conch shells for adornment.
I spent my first morning at Shutters happily lounging by the pool, tucked into a striped chaise with a friend's memoir and an eye candy-filled Los Angeles magazine. Ringed with flowering greenery, the pool deck, with its outdoor fireplace and splendid views of the Pacific, was a heavenly place to relax. Come mealtime, nearby Venice hotspots beckoned, but it was well worth eating in a few times to enjoy Shutter's locally-inspired beachside cuisine. Coast, practically nestled in the sand, is the more casual restaurant option, airy and inviting with dynamite views. Fish tacos, offered at both lunch and dinner, were a bit bland, but the satisfying "Bull's-Eye" Breakfast Skillet of roasted eggplant and spicy tomato sauce topped with sunny-side up eggs more than made up for it at breakfast the next day, and friends and I enjoyed the crisp-edged lemon ricotta pancakes, with a just-right grainy tang.
One Pico has a more special-occasion feel, with luxe upholstered chairs and a fireside Captain's table, but nautical accents and a panoramic perch above the beach keep the mood California-casual. Managing chef Sven Mede, a Michael Mina alum, recently honed the menu to give it a more contemporary slant, while preserving chef Isaac Gamboa's penchant for farmers' market produce and fresh seafood. At dinner one night, the red Russian kale "market plate" lacked acid, but English pea soup was velvety springtime, and the wild snapper, with housemade couscous and a briny brunoise of green olives, tasted just-plucked from the sea. My friend's "Vine to Table" dinner featured hit after hit, each course, from seared scallops with shiso to braised beef cheek with roasted shiitake, beautifully paired with master sommelier Peter Neptune's picks. For dessert, our waiter, a friendly Las Vegas transplant, talked me into the mascarpone cheesecake with huckleberries and Meyer lemon, a winning gamble.
On my last morning at Shutters, my middle ear malady finally healed enough that I could safely fly home to New York City, I took one last walk along the beach and wondered how I might manage to get myself stranded here again. —Meryl Rosofsky
IN THE AREA
- Mélisse: Splurge at Santa Monica's Michelin-starred fine dining mecca featuring chef/owner Josiah Citrin's contemporary California-French fare. A procession of amuse-bouches segues into seasonally-inspired tasting menu dishes like green asparagus with almond panna cotta, blood orange, and oxalis, a type of wood sorrel; wild king salmon with favas and stinging nettles (beautifully paired on my visit with an Henri Prudhon Puligny-Montrachet); and custardy cherimoya with tangerine and tapioca. 1104 Wilshire Blvd; 310/395-0881; melisse.com
- Tar & Roses: Follow the lead of in-the-know locals and head here for chef/owner Andrew Kirschner's rustic offerings: smoky wood-fired English peas; bone marrow on sourdough; wood-roasted sardines with salsa verde; and charred octopus with cucumber and bonito. Call ahead to order Moroccan wood-fired goat or paella with blistered pimientos de Padrón, served family-style. An "X" on the menu marks the wood they're burning that night—apple, olive, oak, almond, or walnut—and a note on the top of the page sends peace to "all the local farmers who believe in sustainable, organic agriculture." 602 Santa Monica Blvd; 310/587-0700; tarandroses.com
- Cora's Coffee Shoppe: Breakfast under the bougainvillea at famed L.A. chef Bruce Marder's low-key eatery, where locals seek arugula and feta egg white omelets, chicken burgers, and hearty huevos rancheros (I doused mine with hot sauce before biting in to the seed-filled end of a roasted chile, a trick I won't be repeating anytime soon). 1802 Ocean Avenue; 310/451-9562; corascoffee.com
- Beach path: Stroll, bike, or Segway along the paved scenic beach path that runs in front of the hotel. If you're feeling ambitious, you can cover the whole 22-mile stretch, south past Muscle Beach and north, along stunning coastline, toward Malibu. Cruising bicycles available to guests in front of the hotel; see concierge for rental information. Segway Los Angeles, 1660 Ocean Avenue; 310/395-1395; segway.la/rentals.html