Art Deco decadence at Hotel Shangrila, Santa Monica, California. Where Hollywood glamour meets the beach
We’d already been in Los Angeles for three nights and had adjusted the hectic pace that a whistle-stop tour of West Hollywood and the surrounding area demands… Downtown and the fab Philippe The Original – check. WEHO’s can’t miss Farmers Market and Short Order – check. Urth Caffé, Melrose Avenue and Beverly Hills branches – check. We even managed to squeeze in Mel’s Drive-In and Carney’s, both on Sunset Boulevard. (Read our full review here)
So as we approached the end of Santa Monica Boulevard and caught our first ever glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, I swear my pulse rate instantly began to drop. And this overwhelming sense of calm continued as soon as we walked into the reception of The Hotel Shangrila. The lobby was decked out in Union Jack clad mannequins and red, white and blue bulldogs! Apparently it was ‘British week’, they really were making us feel at home. Albeit a stunning newly refurbished art deco home.
But apparently on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays the hotel throws Hollywood-style pool parties complete with DJs. Hotel Shangrila also has a state-of-the-art fitness center, open 24 hours… Not that we were even slightly interested in going, far too much eating and drinking to be done. Although Saff was tempted by the Sybaris Rejuvenation Lounge every time she walked past, featuring ILA Spa products. Check the website for their monthly special offers.
The 3 o’clock check in time came and went. When we finally decided to drag our arses from the pool (I decided to seek sanctuary from the blazing sun in one of the cabanas) we were really impressed by our room! All 70 suites and rooms at the award-winning* Shangrila have contemporary decor, eco-friendly features and modern technology, including iPod docking stations – so handy for charging up our iPhones!
The hotel is in an ideal situation, a couple of blocks back is a modern shopping mall (Santa Monica Place) with a mix of independent, designer and chain stores. Worth a mention is The Market, up on the 3rd floor Dining Deck. This is defiantly not your usual food hall, The Curious Palate should be a destination restaurant – its double pork chilli is unmissable!
Jump in the car head north and you are only about 30 mins drive from the posh shops and handbag dogs of Rodeo Drive. Or take a scenic journey along The Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu and the pretty little beaches beyond. Look out for the brown signs that indicate parking for the public beaches. Be warned parking will set you back at least $8, in fact parking is rarely free anywhere in LA, even the hotels charge an overnight valet fee.
Well, here’s our opinion… You have to remember that we had previously spent the last five days seeking out the recommendations from some of London’s (and California’s) most regarded bloggers, food PRs and restauranteurs. We’d eaten at some of LAs most noteworthy restaurants, from organic, fusion and diner to steak and street food.
We’d like to point out that, considering the California has huge wine-producing regions, a glass of vino costs a small fortune! That said The Dining Room has a good selection of reasonably priced wines, we settled for the Alexandra Valley Merlot at a not too steep $12 a glass.
The menu is split into four sections; Small plates, Greens, Large plates and Specials. From memory the small plates also doubled as side dishes and I decided to pair a Mac n cheese $7 with a Lamb burger $17. The Mac n cheese was made with Orecchiette pasta (a speciality of our beloved Puglia, Italy) and the Mornay sauce had just the right cheesy consistency. But it was flavour of the garlic bread crumb that overpowered the dish.
I really enjoyed the Lamb burger though, the perfectly grilled ground lamb (charred on the outside yet pink in the middle) was a very welcome change from my beef and pork overdose. For just $17 you got a fully loaded burger… The patty, spiced yogurt, cheddar cheese, arugula (rocket leaves), heirloom tomatoes and pickled red onion. All served with a side of fries (more like a whole quartered potato). The yogurt and lamb gave a very Greek feel to the burger, a welcome change from the strong Mexican influences.
Saff wasn’t as keen on her Fried chicken, $23. But then again it would have to be extremely special to top the version we tried for breakfast at Home on Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz. Saff found its coating a little soggy and bland, the chicken was great but, as always, with fried chicken is all about the coating. Her side of chipotle potatoes were a big hit, I simply had to help her finish them off.
1301 Ocean Avenue. Santa Monica, CA 90401