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harris61 Feb 19th, 2004 06:55 PM

Santa Monica: Loews or Fairmont Miramar
We are traveling to Southern California in April with children ages 7 & 11. We have narrowed our hotel choices down to these two: the Loews or the Fairmont Miramar. We would like to be close to the beach and family-friendly activities. I would welcome any suggestions.

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 20th, 2004 06:58 AM

If beach access is the deciding factor, the Loews is much better situated than the Miramar (which is on a bluff, with the beach a fair walk down, and then across PCH). But for every other reason, the Miramar is by far the better choice. The Loews is nice, but not worth the money. The Miramar is historic, gorgeous, luxurious.

I work a block from the Fairmont, and three blocks from the Loews. I have sent clients to both, and hands down they have preferred the Miramar.

The Pier is a little closer to the Loews, but only a few blocks from the Miramar. And the Third Street Promenade (really, an outdoor shopping mall) is close to both. But knowing the two properties well, I'd absolutely choose the Miramar.

jd Feb 20th, 2004 07:15 AM

I have only stayed at the Loews,and was not overly impressed with this hotel for the money I paid. Rooms were on the small side.If want a room with a balcony, make sure it is a full balcony and not one where you can only stand. Be aware that if you pay for an oceanview room you may have to stretch your neck as far as it will go over the balcony,and turn it to one side. One good thing about the hotel is the pool and the hot tub. We ended up leaving this hotel a day early and heading furthur south. I would definetly check out the Miramar.

Edye Feb 20th, 2004 09:01 AM

We stayed at the Loews in one room with our two kids for several days and I can assure you the rooms are really small for 4 people. The only way I would stay there again is in 2 rooms attached. If the room size is comparable at the Fairmont, then I advise that we stayed at the Hotel Oceana on our next area visit, which offered a one bedroom apt style suite, and the service was great. Although a bit of a walk to the Pier and Promenade, it was well worth it to have the extra space.

Alisa Feb 20th, 2004 10:00 AM

I also agree with staying at the Miramar. The Loews is closer to the beach but the Miramar is nicer and closer to shopping and restaurants. And a cool pool.

harris61 Feb 20th, 2004 01:25 PM

Thank you soooooo much. That is exactly what I needed to know! Any unique restaurant suggestions? My children are adventurous eaters and they know how to behave when they have to! We would love places unique to the area. Also, any Sunday brunch suggestions?

rjw_lgb_ca Feb 20th, 2004 01:59 PM

SM is teeming with good-to-great restaurants. A fun place with surprisingly good food is Monsoon, right on the Promenade (Third Street just south of Wilshire). The décor is Polynesian-Tiki hokey, but they often have live entertainment in the evening and it's good Asian grub. El Cholo, on Wilshire (up around 11th, I think), is the Westside outpost of a wicked good Mexican restaurant chainlet (three branches). For nouvelle Mexican, Border Grill on Fourth Street is tops, although you get polarized opinions on the food (I like it a lot); most agree it's too damn noisy, which is true. Broadway Deli is always a good choice for breakfast (Third Street at Broadway), and Johnny Rocket's has a branch right on the Promenade (south of Arizona)-- good for breakfast and burgers in a pinch (and for the record, the chain originated here in CA-- you can see the original in West Hollywood on Melrose; look for the dozen or so Harleys parked out front).

Close to the Pier are Ivy at the Shore (popular with "industry" types dining in the area) and Il Fornaio della Spiaggia (oceanside branch of the Beverly Hills original), as well as The Lobster (guess what their specialty is?). My personal fave for seafood is Ocean Ave. Seafood (Ocean south of Santa Monica), part of a seafood/steak chain stretching to downtown LA (Water Grill) and my hometown of Long Beach (Pine Avenue Fish House and 555 Ocean).

One of the best restaurants in SM is down on Main Street: Chinois on Main, a Wolfgang Puck/Barb Lazaroff creation that has great food. For that matter, the Miramar is close to Michael's (Third, north of Wilshire), which has maintained a high reputation among restaurants for many years. And I'm not even scratching the surface of other area eateries (including gems like Joe's Restaurant down in Venice, on Abbot Kinney).

Since I don't live in SM, I don't frequent the brunch joints in the area, but I'm sure the hotel can point you in the right direction.

Mommar Feb 20th, 2004 03:19 PM

We just spent 1.5 days at the Miramor with our three kids. We splurged and took two rooms that connected. But oh what rooms they were! Despite an Eastern facing view of the Huntley hotel and a parking lot, these were extremely nice rooms. The first was a two room suite for Mom and Dad with a wetbar in the sitting room, a lovely couch and desk area. The kids shared a very large room with two queen beds and their own TV (!) and desk.

The pool area, while not large is very nice and well maintained. The restaurant overlooks the pool so Mom, you're warned. (Dad never seems to care, but I was glad I had a nice bathing suit and cover-up - ah vanity!)
The kids enjoyed the jacuzzi too!

The hotel put a rubber turtle toy in the kids bathroom which our toddler immediately adopted. The Miramar had one of the best bathroom amenities stocks I've seen of late: beyond the usual stuff they had a big bottle of bath gel (shaped like a honey pot), a plastic-wrapped natural loofah sponge, and a lip balm.

I was not impressed, however, with the breakfast buffet which was included in our room rate (around $500 or so). The price for all is $19 which isn't too bad though. Just a rather tired assortment of cold cereal, pastries, scrambled eggs, one kind of packaged yogurt and some sliced fruit. The hotel is so nice, I just expected something a bit "more."

Overall, a great, glamorous yet family friendly stay. And the kids really like walking around on 3rd Street promenade (check out the bubble guy - no really!)

harris61 Feb 21st, 2004 05:33 PM

Thanks, again! Exactly what I needed to know!

Diana805 Feb 22nd, 2004 08:15 PM

Toppers is a Mexican restaurant at the top of Huntley's hotel. It has good food and a wonderful view of the beach. They used to have (haven't been in a while) a buffet breakfast every morning.
JInkys on 2nd street next to the Carmel Hotel is a great place for breakfast. They have all the regular items plus chili of various hotnesses, a delicious breakfast quesadilla etc. Check out the cafes on Montana Ave also

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