‘My Favourite Hotel’ review – Sea Blue Hotel (previously ‘Hotel California’), Santa Monica
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Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is the Sea View Hotel, Santa Monica in California.
We are currently running this reader-written feature to provide some positivity and inspiration to Head for Points. You can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews so far by clicking here. This was scheduled to be a series of about 25 hotels, but a good response from readers means that we have commissioned another batch and are continuing the series.
Today’s hotel is the Sea Blue Hotel, a budget hotel just one block from Santa Monica Pier. It is reader Clare’s favourite hotel and here is her review:
If you thought Santa Monica was ridiculously expensive, think again. This review of the Sea Blue Hotel should prove that it doesn’t have to be the case.
This budget hotel / motel (2 or 3 star depending on where you look) has historically only been about £120 a night, and the same price runs for most of this Summer. This is cheap as chips for Santa Monica.
Next door is the 4* Loews Hotel (where we have also stayed many happy times) which typically costs 3x as much per night, or even more depending on the room type. OK, so the Sea Blue doesn’t have a pool (or any facilities at all really) but if like us you are there for the beach, jogging or cycling along the famous Santa Monica Boulevard, strolling up to Venice Beach, the local bars, restaurants and Santa Monica Pier locale, then I say give this quirky gem a go! Its certainly a tonic if you are fed up with the corporate hotel scene.
NB: I noticed that from mid-August this year through May next year, prices jump to £348 per night. This might be a coronavirus blip. It has never historically been anywhere near this high and I would expect it to revert back to its norms.
Where is Sea Blue Hotel located?
Sea Blue Hotel is a two storey traditional wood build (and not the most attractive to look at). The hotel literally backs onto the beach road in Santa Monica, right next to the famous Santa Monica Pier.
Venice beach is about a 30 minutes stroll along the boulevard and makes for a fascinating people watching daytime experience.
Santa Monica city centre is only about a 20 minutes walk or short bus, cab or Uber ride away.
Getting there (taxi, Uber or rental car)
If you are going through Los Angeles on business or for a holiday, I highly recommend adding on a couple of nights in Santa Monica. You can get over the jet lag or get some beach time before or after getting on / off a transatlantic flight.
The best option for getting to the hotel in my view is an Uber from Los Angeles airport, which costs around $25, but of course depends on time of day and Uber demand. A regular airport taxi will cost you roughly double, maybe more if the driver decides to go the long way!
You might also find it convenient to know that there is an Avis car rental pick-up and drop-off point about 50 yards from the hotel, inside the Loews Hotel reception. A few times we have landed in Los Angeles, got an Uber to Santa Monica and then after a few days on the beach driven over to Las Vegas or into the mountains. We have also done the reverse, driving from Las Vegas or the fairly local National Parks for a beach relax, before getting an Uber back to Los Angeles for the return flight.
Reception and check-in
The reception was basic, but the staff were excellent with a quick and easy check-in. There was a small coffee station where guests could get complimentary coffee and fruits (bananas) every morning.
There was some on-site parking out the front of the hotel for a daily charge of $33 per vehicle, on a first come first serve basis.
Rooms and facilities
I would say the rooms were basic, chalet, ‘surfer chic’ style. The bed was very comfortable and there was a small fridge in our room.
Generally there was very little in the way of facilities. The hotel had no pool, but hey, the beach was right there! There were also a few areas with sun chairs and beach umbrellas to relax on.
We were on the ground floor in the middle of the property, which was lovely as we had a general access patio area to enjoy right outside our room for our morning coffee and to take in the late afternoon sun.
The free wifi works well and the room ceiling fan good and necessary in the summer.
The Sea Blue Hotel doesn’t have a gym, but you can rent bikes (or skates if you are brave and skilled enough) from a selection of vendors in the area and cover a lot of ground along the beach front using the safe and easy boulevard paths. It’s also an awesome spot for any runner / jogger and you can even try the classic beach gym equipment.
Eating, drinking, getting around and nightlife
Whilst there is no bar or restaurant at all at the hotel, the hotel is in an excellent location. It’s only a short stroll away from the world-famous Santa Monica pier with many bars and casual restaurants/eateries. Local bar ‘Big Deans – Ocean Front Cafe’ by the pier is a personal favourite – a drinkers’ bar with extensive lagers, that also serves good wings, nachos, and a fab chilli bowl. It has a lovely sun patio right on the Santa Monica Boulevard – great for people watching.
Loews hotel bar next door is great for a pricier cocktail experience, and I can also recommend their formal restaurant. Venice beach along the boulevard is good for a casual breakfast / brunch café. It’s only about a 15/20 minute walk to the plentiful top brand shopping and higher class bars and steak or sushi restaurants of Santa Monica city centre.
We have also used Uber to get over to the famous Rainbow Bar and Grill, and the ‘Whiskey-a-Go-Go’ (for rock fans) which only cost about $20 each way. It’s worth checking who is playing at the Whiskey during your stay, as it’s a great grass roots experience at a cheap ticket price.
An Uber ride into central LA is worth the trip for a stroll round the Golden Triangle in Beverly Hills, or for a visit to the high class bar & steak restaurant (reservations required) in the Beverly Wilshire.
The Sea Blue Hotel is my favourite spot in Santa Monica. The location can’t be faulted, and the hotel delivers everything it promises and more via their great customer service and attitude. We’ll be back.
It is bookable on Hotels.com – see here – with free cancellation, and you can use your Hotels.com Rewards free nights.
If you want to find out more, the hotel’s website is here.
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