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SANTA MONICA Trip Report: Sheraton Delfina hotel, Thai Dishes, & Free Fun

SANTA MONICA Trip Report: Sheraton Delfina hotel, Thai Dishes, & Free Fun

Aug 10th, 2009, 04:21 PM
  #1  
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SANTA MONICA Trip Report: Sheraton Delfina hotel, Thai Dishes, & Free Fun

"Santa Monica" on a "moderate budget" is a challenging concept, especially in the summer! But I succeeded in planning a romantic weekend getaway to Santa Monica in August 2009 for my husband and I without going broke.

August is high season in California, and Santa Monica is expensive. (Anyplace along the California beaches is expensive in summer.) But here is how we managed it for moderate prices.

I booked our hotel on www.hotwire.com. I chose a 4-star hotel in the Santa Monica area which was described as being within walking distance of a beach. We got the Sheraton Delfina for $179. That's a decent price for high season (August). It's about a 15-minute walk to the beach near the Santa Monica pier from the Sheraton Delfina. It was our second stay at this hotel, and it's a comfortable, older Sheraton....with excellent customer service. We were well pleased. We checked in early, and were delighted to find we had a room with an ocean view on the 6th floor! (In February we had booked on hotwire and got the same hotel for $115.)
Sheraton Delfina hotel
530 West Pico Blvd., Santa Monica

Free Activities:
My husband and I enjoyed a relaxing, romantic getaway in sunny Santa Monica. We lounged at the beach for free, watched the street performers on the 3rd Street Promenade for free, strolled along the tacky but fun Santa Monica pier, and tried to find a bathroom with a shorter line, along with herds of summer tourists from around the world... We window shopped in Santa Monica without spending a dime. We found an entire store full of Kroc shoes...a pet shop with a beautiful scarlet macaw....(the same kind of bird we will see on our next trip to Costa Rica!) We listened to a talented street musician drumming on plastic buckets, and various pots and pans...he really got into his rhythm, and worked up a sweat, drawing a crowd of listeners. My husband used to be a drummer in a band, and he was impressed with the man's talent and creativity. He was just one among many performers along the 3rd Street Promenade (pedestrian only section of the street.)

Sheraton Delfina Hotel (more info):
On both of our stays, the staff at the Sheraton Delfina has been excellent...very helpful with anything that we needed. While there are certainly hotels which are located much closer to the beach, you can't beat the price that we got this Sheraton for on hotwire, not for a 4-star hotel in high season within walking distance to the beach.

The Sheraton Delfina has a medium-sized pool, but no jacuzzi. We didn't use the pool since we preferred to walk to the beach.

Most hotels in the area charge for parking. The Sheaton Delfina charges $30 for valet parking, and there are only a handful of self-parking spots, so you have to pay for valet. But we asked if they could discount the valet parking charge, and they said, yes, but just this once time. So we got the valet parking for half price.

The hotel has a free shuttle but you have to reserve it. We never bothered, as we could either walk or drive to anyplace we wanted to go. We prefer to walk when possible.

The air conditioner unit on the wall of our room was old, and a bit rattly, but it worked adequately, cooling the room. Our ocean-view room on the 6th floor had excellent sound-proofing, and we slept well, and enjoyed our view over Santa Monica to the ocean...in the daytime the water looked sparkling blue, and at night the city lights were romantic. We felt this view was more than worth the price of the room. (No guarantees you will get this room however! It does help to check in early.)

DINING IN SANTA MONICA:

Fritto Misto Italian Cafe
601 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica
Our Vote: Yes! Fresh, creative, and delicious.
We love Fritto Misto! This was our second visit to this friendly, delicious cafe where they make all their pastas home-made...as well as their sauces. Prices are moderate too. I love the tender Jumbo Ravioli for $13.75, one of their pasta specialties...it comes out a bit different depending on who's cooking. It's stuffed with prosciutto, mortadella, and chicken, and the sauce has garlic cream, carmelized onions, pancetta, and sundried tomatoes. Their salads are good to share, and we enjoyed a nice glass of the chianti wine for a reasonable price. Their menu is very creative. There are other less expensive pastas on the menu which also looked great.
Www.usmenuguide.com

Bay Cities Italian Bakery & Deli
1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica
www.baycitiesitaliandeli.com
Our Vote: Yes! Tasty and Interesting.
I hesitate to recommend the Bay Cities Italian Bakery & Deli since it was so crowded already! But we grabbed a number and rubbed elbows with some interesting folks while waiting our turn. We ordered the Godmother sandwich, since we read about that one and didn't know what else to order! They make their own rolls which are good and chewy...the sandwich squishes out when you bite into the roll. I've never been to a deli counter like this one where there are sardines in the deli case, among other things. The sandwiches were good and memorable. We also browsed through the store which had imported expensive cheeses and more olive oils than you have ever seen in your average grocery store. The prices for the deli sandwiches were moderate, although the prices for other imported items in the store seemed higher than prices in San Diego (where we're from.)

Cora's Coffee Shoppe
1802 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica
Our Advice: Just close your eyes and point!
We waited outside of Cora's, where grumbling customers were herded into tables on the cute patio by efficient staff. We found the staff to be almost too efficient but not overly friendly. The menu was strangely under-described. For example, one item was described as “omelette”...with the price listed next to it. No further description...no ingredients listed...Huh? I figured when the waiter came over, he would describe the food in further detail. However he spent a bare minimum of time explaining the food, and then abruptly said he would come back when I made up my mind...so he moved onto the next table and left us with the mysterious menu. When he returned, I hadn't “made up my mind” since I still didn't understand (nor remember) the ingredients of the dishes. I solved the problem by pointing to an interesting dish that a waiter was delivering to another table. I'll have that, I said, and pointed! Fortunately, our food turned out to be tasty, and healthy. The coffee was good too...it's Illy coffee, a great imported coffee, with free refills. My husband ended up with an Italian frittata, and I had a special, with poached eggs over fresh heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil on a crusty bit of bread with either olive oil or butter.

Urth Cafe
2327 Main St., Santa Monica
Our Vote: No. Overpriced for what you get and a bit disappointing.
Urth Cafe is cute and promising. However I ended up sending my large cup of dark roast organic coffee back because I found it too acidic in taste...plus after I paid $2.50 for it, I found out there aren't any refills on coffee. (We didn't have this problem elsewhere in Santa Monica, and we had good coffee elsewhere too, with free refills.) So I traded the cup of coffee in for a cappuccino, which was better. Also, my husband was turned off by the fact that they charged us each 50 cents for jelly, but didn't tell us about this in advance. Although it's only 50 cents each, he said it was just the principle that bothered him. Why not just add 50 cents onto the price of the meal, he said, so that customers will see the full price in advance... When you pay $27 for 2 people to have lunch, with only 1 coffee drink, and no desserts, you don't really expect to find you have also been charged 50 cents each for jelly...anyway that was my husband's reaction (it made him cranky.) Also the salad that came with our omelettes looked fresh on top but contained a number of very wilted pieces underneath. The omelettes also came with bread, which turned out to be a white roll, whereas it seemed like a healthy place like this should offer some type of organic whole grain with the meal.

Thai Dishes
111 Santa Monica Blvd.
Www.thaidishessantamonica.com
Our Vote: Yes, delicious food and gracious, friendly service!
We really enjoyed Thai Dishes. The service was gracious and friendly. The menu is user-friendly, including some photos, and good descriptions. The food was above average, and the prices are moderate. Everything we tasted was delicious, and the food we saw on other people's tables looked good too. The menu had a nice variety. We especially enjoyed Thai Dishes Noodle (Kai Koow?): Pan fried flat rice noodle with brown sauce, chicken, squid, egg, green onions, bean sprouts, and fresh ground peanut.

Huckleberry
1014 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
www.huckleberrycafe.com
We stopped at Huckleberry on our way out of town, to my delight. They have a fabulous selection of treats! However I have to warn you, this place will break your budget. I got some delicious bread pudding to go which was addictive...plus I bought a fresh croissant with an unusual stuffing...since I have devoured the whole thing, I can't remember what type of cheese it was stuffed with...Gruyere? Along with prosciutto maybe? Huckleberry is a bakery and cafe, and it was a bit expensive. We took the bakery goods to go, and on the way out I glanced at what people were having for lunch. It looked wonderful. I'd like to return there for breakfast or lunch. If I'm going to splurge, I like it to be for something special. Good thing this place isn't near my house! I'd be there every day.

.
Melissa5 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 10:07 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 128
This is a nice report and, from a local's perspective pretty much on the money. Fritto Misto is a fave of mine, largely because I'm gluten free and they serve rice pasta upon request. And it's homey to boot. Had the same experience at Huckleberry, except to make matters worse for me, I literally had one choice on the menu because they add bread crumbs to almost every dish (gotta wonder what that does to calorie intake, etc.). Urth is great mostly during off-peak hours for their green tea boba. Yum. Thai Dishes is good but Bangkok West is WAY better and just up the street on Santa Monica Blvde and 6th. Anywho, great report. Other SanMo visitors will def appreciate this.
MelissaMorgan is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 11:10 PM
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MelissaMorgan, thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm glad to hear Fritto Misto serves rice pasta upon request. It must be challenging to eat out gluten-free. We enjoyed Thai Dishes, so if Bangkok West is better, I'd like to try it next time! There were lots of tasty entrees on the Thai Dishes menu, and I wanted to try them all, but we had to limit ourselves to one each! We also tried an appetizer.
Melissa5 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 05:08 PM
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Thanks for this report. We will be in Santa Monica for two nights in October, staying at the Chanel Rd Inn. I will be printing out your restaurant rec's. thanks again
aussiedreamer is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 05:18 PM
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aussiedreamer, enjoy your trip! Where is the Chanel Rd. Inn? Parking can be difficult in Santa Monica. We tried to walk to reataurants from our hotel. Our hotel was walking distance to the Santa Monica pier. sometimes we did drive to restaurants, but then we had to deal with parking issues. We did drive when we wanted to get to the 3rd Street Promenade. There is a parking structure there, which cost a few dollars. Sunday is easier to park than Saturday, because the parking signs mostly said "except for Sunday". But even on Sunday you can't park in handicapped spots without a special permit.
Melissa5 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 10:51 PM
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We will be there on a thursday and friday nights. Chanel Rd Inn http://channelroadinn.com/ I'm pretty sure my confirmation email said onsite free parking, but I'd better check. I just had a look on mapquest, its about 2 miles from the pier. Count down, we leave Oct 1st.
aussiedreamer is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 01:31 AM
  #7  
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aussiedreamer, the Chanel Rd. Inn looks nice...I just looked at their web-site. I'm sure you probably checked their reviews on the tripadvisor.com web-site as well. Good guest reviews! Sounds like they are a 5-minute walk from a beach, though I'm not sure which beach that is. It sounds like a bus stops near the Chanel Rd. Inn as well. Just to let you know my opinion about the Santa Monica pier...if you can get there, that's fine, but if you find it inconvenient to get there, you can miss the pier. The Santa Monica pier is touristy. You may as well check out the beach that is a close walking distance to your accommodation. I do think it's worth getting over to the 3rd Street Promenade if you can, which is the pedestrian-only section of the street...on weekend evenings/nights, we found it fascinating to people-watch and see the street entertainers. I hope you get lucky with the weather...in southern california, we often still have good weather in early October...hopefully you will get sunny weather.

You might not be in Santa Monica long enough to see the Getty Villa in Malibu. That's an easy drive from Santa Monica. It's free except for $8 to park, but you need to make a reservation in advance on-line. www.getty.edu (There is also the Getty Center in Los Angeles, but it's the Getty Villa in Malibu that is closer for you, within a short drive of Santa Monica.) Probably you won't be in town long enough to fit that in. The Getty Villa has nice gardens and art to browse through. You can see the Getty Villa in a few hours...I'd say 3 hours is enough...there is also a little cafe there if you get hungry.

Since it looks like you only have 2 nights in Santa Monica, it looks like you will find plenty to do in Santa Monica.

Enjoy your trip to Santa Monica!
Melissa5 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 02:37 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Thank you for all your great tips. The two nights is the start of our month long 'drive', of the West coast. We'll have been on the East coast for two weeks. As we arrive back into LAX at late afternoon, we thought it better to get our car and not rush, we'll have a week to get up to Sanfrancisco. So two nights at a nice Inn sounded like a good plan. We have been to the Pier (albeit just a quick look) about 10 years ago, so no real need to be in a huge touristy place, so your suggestions are great, thanks again.
aussiedreamer is offline  
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