Looking for a beach holiday within easy distance of a major airport? Look no further than LA’s Santa Monica.
Sleep in Art Deco style
The historic Hotel Shangri-La stands out from the crowded beachfront, thanks to its Art Deco exterior. Inside, the rooms are spacious and feature dark-wood floorboards, comfortable beds and Art Deco finishes – all have views of Santa Monica beach (although some rooms have only partial views so check this when you book). Also note: the wall between the bedroom and the shower is made of glass, complete with an opening window so you can chat as you wash! For shy guests, there’s a curtain to protect your modesty.
Drink at a rooftop bar
The sea breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean is one of Santa Monica's major drawcards. Make the most of it by heading up to Level 5 of the Hotel Shangri-La and having a cocktail at the rooftop bar, Suite 700. From here you can sit back and relax while you enjoy the view along the beach to Santa Monica Pier.
Walk Santa Monica Pier
When you’re ready to leave the rooftop bar, wander down to the pier and have your photo taken under the iconic neon sign. The pier is touristy but riding the Ferris wheel is definitely one to tick off your travel list. There’s an old-school games arcade and a great view from the end of the wharf, too.
Ride the beach boardwalk
One of the best things about the Hotel Shangri-La is its proximity to Santa Monica beach. Yes, you have to cross the walkway above the highway to get there but the hotel is located directly opposite the entrance to the overpass. Once you get to the beach, stroll into any one of the bike-rental shops and grab yourself some wheels (you can hire bikes for one hour, two hours or the whole day). The famous Muscle Beach, Venice Beach bars and Malibu are all within riding distance.
Shop the markets
A variety of markets can be found in Santa Monica throughout the week and on weekdays but the Downtown farmers’ markets (farmersmarket.smgov.net) on Wednesday and Saturday mornings (Arizona Avenue, from 8.30am) are not to be missed. The stalls span four blocks and sell produce from some 75 farmers. Even if you’re not looking to buy food, it’s fun to walk around and sample seasonal fruit and veg and breathe in the fragrance of freshly cut flowers. There are also plenty of pastries on offer to tame hungry bellies.