Fodor's Expert Review
Housed in a historically preserved, Art Deco masterpiece, the Shangri-La is a throwback to the Golden Age of cinema while embracing its neighborhood roots with nautical themes. The entire hotel is built like a giant cruise ship and the common spaces, pool area and rooftop bar help give families the feeling of being at sea – which is easy since the property sits across the street from the Pacific Ocean.
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There are 70 rooms in this boutique hotel with 30 suites (22 have full kitchens which inspire long-term stays). Opt for ocean side accommodations as the views do not disappoint. Nespresso machines are fully comped in all the suites and there’s complimentary Wi-Fi throughout.
White marble bathrooms are complete with custom fixtures, sunken tubs, rain showerheads and L’Occitane products.
The lobby is fairly small with a black felt couch and a few chairs. There’s a concierge station and a dining room and bar off to the right.
Tip Ask the concierge to get your name on the list for local bars and clubs that may be hard to get into. They can also get you tickets to shows, Universal Studios and other events.
Walking to the back of the hotel reveals the 10,000 square-foot pool deck. The cruise-ship feel is in full force here with games like ping-pong and corn-hole, cabanas circling the pool and fire-pits to lounge around with a glass of wine at night. You get the whole pool experience here, folks.
The fitness center is open 24-hours and has a full complement of free weights and cardio machines.
The dining room in the front of the hotel serves an eclectic menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers grand views of the Santa Monica waves. Guests can also order room service 24-hours a day.
One of the best parts of the hotel is the rooftop bar and lounge, Onyx. Designed with Studio 54 in mind, the black and gold painted ballroom floor takes guests back to the 70s on the inside. Outside, drinkers are treated to the best rooftop bar view in all of Santa Monica. Fridays and Saturdays are pretty exciting with DJ-spun tunes, and there's a sunset happy hour daily from 4-6 pm.
You Should Know After 8pm, the bar enforces a dress code--no flip-flops, baseball caps or shorts.
If you want to catch a train, it’s only a 13-minute walk to the Downtown Santa Monica Station. From there, you can get almost anywhere in the city, including Hollywood and Universal Studios. The hotel is also in a great walking area generally--there are tons of bars, restaurants and attractions right outside the door. If you want to get to Malibu, you should probably just rent a car.
Sugarfish (1-minute) walk has some of the most consistently great sushi in town. Fig (5-minute walk) is inside the Fairmont Hotel and has salivatingly good Mediterranean cuisine. Since the Shangri-La is a block away from the Third Street Promenade, there are options for every cuisine and price point imaginable.
If Onyx on the rooftop isn’t your scene, you can try The Bungalow (5-minute walk), a beachy indoor/outdoor bar and lounge also at the Fairmont Hotel. For something a little more casual, there’s Ye Olde King’s Head (3-minute walk) a British-style pub with great beers.