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Have you ever wanted to be in a Lana Del Rey video? The answer is obviously yes. And the place to make that happen (or at least pretend) is Viceroy Santa Monica, which is one of the most desirable venues in the area. It mixes Old Hollywood with French accents and a great deal of kitsch. The bathrooms downstairs are particularly alluring with its emerald green tiling and black and white chequered floors. If you’re into fun design and city living in a seaside setting, it’s ideal. Then there’s the location. It was my first visit to Los Angeles and I knew that I wanted to experience the less commercial side of the city. I had the up and coming coastal areas of Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu on my mind. The Viceroy hotel has a discreet exterior yet its prominently located, just five minutes from the ocean and the famous Santa Monica pier and a 10-30 minute drive from those neighbourhoods.
Even without a suite, spacious rooms are a norm in the US and no different at Viceroy. It’s something I wish we imported to Europe over Lucky Charms cereal. The water-facing rooms offer a scene right out of Beach House Barbie’s windows: shaggy palm trees lining a promenade and the colours of soft ochre sand as it crumbles into a sparkling light blue.
Inside, the hotel does it differently from most. It’s moody and glamorous. Londoners, you’ll know what I mean when I say, the decor reminds me a lot of the Sanderson. And if you are travelling from across the pond, be aware that hotels here generally charge a premium for the valet ($50), which is usually compulsory unless you want to risk a public and unsheltered carpark.
Another impressive feature at Viceroy is its pool area, where the turquoise waters are surrounded by chic black and white cabanas. You’ll want to invest in some retro cat eye sunglasses and a high-leg swimsuit to really live the vibe. The ambience is chill. In the 20-something degree sun, guests are lounging with cocktails or tapping away at their laptops in bikinis. It feels a lot more like a home away from home or a member’s club than a new hotel.
The hotel’s restaurant Cast takes advantage of the always-sunny LA weather, which in the month of April when we visited, was far colder than I had expected. Still, it’s lovely to dine outdoors with views of the pools and blue skies. The menu at Viceroy Santa Monica is full of local LA favourites, like Cuban-style pork that comes as a prosciutto and cheese sandwich ($45), grilled white fish tacos ($16) and ahi tuna ($18). There are ample veggie options too, including my personal favourite, the cauliflower sautéed in garlic brown butter ($10).
What to do in Santa Monica
A few blocks away from Ocean Avenue where Viceroy resides, are malls, boardwalks cluttered with alfresco dining options and high street stores. We stayed in the area for three nights to relax after a full week of road tripping to Las Vegas and back. However, every area in the city is a wonder to explore and there’s plenty to do in one of the trendiest places in LA.
For food I recommend Cassia, a Vietnamese French restaurant that’s a 25 minute walk from the Viceroy. This restaurant boasts incredible flavours and is a gem in fusion cuisine. Although it’s very much on the pricier side – dare I say even overpriced – it was one of the best meals I’ve had on my trip. Then there’s Blue Plate Taco, a family-friendly Mexican restaurant near the pier and only a 10 minute jaunt from the hotel, so you can return to nurse your food baby with ease. Our Uber driver even commented that their margaritas were great, so even if you don’t like guacamole (gross, who are you) there’s still reason to refuel there. If you’re up for a drive, 15 minutes from the property is a grill well known to locals, Charcoal. The price of most of the restaurants in the surrounding areas are far from accessible, thanks to its popularity with tourists and the calibre of residents, but it’s all worth it when you’re on holiday! We did however, come across a cheap eat nearby, Yogiyo which calls itself a Korean BBQ. In reality, it’s a fabulous little lunch place full of locals and they serve incredibly affordable beverages, while their food is so authentic. We went twice.
As for activities, the Santa Monica Pier still brings joy and I’m nearly 30.
I can’t believe I wrote that about myself.
Existential life crisis aside, the arcade is uncannily full of adults, and you’ll gladly spend $20 or so collecting tickets that redeems a grand prize of… three majestic lollipops. There’s something about the easy going atmosphere of this place that makes you act like a kid. When you’re feeling more age appropriate, take a trip to the nearby neighbourhood of Venice which is home to one of my new favourite shopping destinations, Abbott Kinney. There are also fantastic vintage shops to peruse and of course, entertain yourself at the kooky and sometimes creepy, Venice Beach. Imagine street performers that have just about had it, skateboarders galore and stalls hawking tie dye t’s. After you’re done with the tourist must-see, take a walk along the canals at sunset and gawk at the curious residences.
1819 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica,
California 90401 USA
*This blog post was part of a press stay