Sun, sea, and swaying palms define Santa Monica. And yet only a handful of lodgings actually sit right on the sand. Of this elite group, Shutters on the Beach stands in a category of its own. This five-star stalwart with a prestigious address is more than just a place to hang your crochet bucket hat, it’s very much a destination. From the outside, the hotel looks like an impeccably well-maintained home that you’d find on Cape Cod. And that refined residential vibe continues throughout. Unlike staying at a friend’s shore house, the social and sleep spaces as well as culinary offerings are designed entirely with guests in mind.
The Living Room is the center of everything. The inviting ambiance comes together with comfy armchairs, mood lighting, and a crackling fire. The small deck off the front has a handful of in-demand tables that provide a picture-perfect perch to sip on something refreshing and gaze at the waves. Then it’s time to move back indoors for a handcrafted cocktail and some conversation or to tap your toes along to the musical stylings of a pianist in the evening.
The food at 1 Pico Restaurant reflects an adept restraint. Chef Sean Runyon sources the highest quality ingredients and then allows the products to shine through simple preparations. The grand dining room, on the other hand, leans more into the look-at-me territory with maritime decor and a huge fireplace. If your appetite for sunsets matches that of sustenance, you’ve come to the right place. Because the large windows basically frame the pinky-hued sky just before nightfall. Brunch is best enjoyed in the courtyard that’s punctuated by a towering tree with lantern-adorned branches. Downstairs, Coast Beach Café and Bar serves up more casual SoCal eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Diners can choose between sitting inside, on the heated outdoor patio, or al fresco.
The spa is an intimate haven of relaxation with soothing hues, a steam room, and pampering treatments. Beauty buffs will recognize the Augustinus Bader and Omorovicza products used in the facials. There’s also a nautical-themed fitness center equipped with state-of-the-art weight-training equipment, treadmills, and Peloton bikes. Personal trainers and yoga instructors are available by appointment.
On sunny days, you’ll see vitamin D-starved out-of-towners catching rays on the chaise lounges that dot the guests-only pool deck, floating in the heated piscine, lounging in breezy cabanas, and looking out over the stretch of golden sand. Having a dedicated beach service department to procure boogie boards and bikes as well as shovels and buckets for little ones, set up chairs and umbrellas, and run refreshments during the summer months is very fitting because of both the location and the fact that hospitality remains such a point of pride for the hotel.
When it’s time to call it a night, the property offers 198 rooms, including 12 suites. A palette of watery blues alongside hardwood floors, white shutters, and coastal art creates a sophisticated littoral style that makes each accommodation feel like a personal seaside retreat. Bathrooms feature whirlpool tubs and heavenly-scented toiletries. Some units have kitchenettes, which further adds to the homey atmosphere (and certainly elevates the convenience factor, too). Of course, snoozing quarters with ocean-view balconies are the most coveted.
Location: Santa Monica, California
The Vibe: Timeless coastal chic with Pacific Ocean views.
Food + Drink:
The Living Room is open all day (and much of the night) for coffee, drinks, and nibbles. For some of the freshest seafood around in an upscale setting, score a reservation at 1 Pico Restaurant. Head downstairs to Coast Beach Café and Bar for easy eats.
Amenities: three restaurants, spa, fitness center, beach concierge, in-room dining, event spaces, valet parking, house car
5 Nearby Attractions: Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica State Beach, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Santa Monica Farmers Market, Montana Ave
Any Personal Neighborhood Recs?
Esters Wine Shop & Bar supplies an impressive selection of natural, organic, and biodynamic wines from around the globe and some tasty bites to pair with world-class pours. The grilled pig’s tail lettuce cups, spicy Vietnamese prawns, and fried rice are some of the many standouts at Cassia. Cobi’s impresses patrons with curries and wood-grilled proteins—most memorably the beef short rib—in flower-filled environs.
Rooms: 198 rooms, including 12 suites
Pricing: Rooms start at $775/night
Closest Airport: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
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