There’s a feeling that comes over you at Hotel Casa del Mar that evokes almost Club-like status as you pass through its legendary doors. You’re part of a rich history as you enter the opulent, famed haunt and are met by the grand, sweeping double staircase, then invited to soak up the classic beach club essence.
The L.A. oceanfront hotel, as close as you’ll get to the sand in Santa Monica, was built in 1926 to be the grandest of beach club hotels and the playground for Hollywood stars—both of which still remain true in many ways. All you have to do is sit in the Lobby Lounge, day or evening, order your martini of choice (the Mercadito with tequila and jalapeno is excellent), and take in the lavish surroundings to practically flash back to the heyday of the twenties when prohibition existed and many outwardly toasted it.Sip your cocktail on the veranda in front of the 20-foot windows as you overlook the sand and surf and just kick back to the sounds of Sinatra or Louis Armstrong. It’s a rare way to pass the time, with the quintessential Santa Monica pier in the background and beachgoers passing by on their skates and Segways.
The hotel’s elegance is effortless, yet you sense its complex past. Casa del Mar has changed hands several times and it has existed as everything from a beach club to military housing to the controversial cult/Synanon rehab center. In 1999 it began a $50 million restoration to return it to its roots of indulgent relaxation, grandeur and elegance, and the result is fabulous. The brick and sandstone exterior was restored to its original state and the décor of Casa del Mar would once again be that of luxurious Italian Renaissance style.
The design details of Casa del Mar are eye-catching. Everything from the foyer’s oversized wrought-iron chandelier and gold-inlaid ceilings to the lobby’s velvet sofas and Art Nouveau-inspired lighting fixtures give it decadent character. Think: artsy living room meets posh club meets Hollywood hang.
Casa del Mar is popular with locals for dining and drinks, while it attracts those from around the world as a luxe stay. The hotel offers 129 beautiful guestrooms, including 17 suites. The rooms have a great deal of range to them. Choose from Deluxe Rooms, Partial Ocean Views, Palm Terrace Rooms, even Three- and Four-Bedroom Suites. Rooms are wrapped in a calming, subtle shade of blue with interesting accents such as neoclassical crystal column lamps and etched and hand-silvered mirrors, as well as beachy sea grass baskets for storage. Each room is also outfitted with current technology including flat-screen televisions in the main room as well as the bathroom, wireless and T1 internet access and an iPod docking station. The oceanfront suites are particularly relaxing with a cool ocean breeze, beautiful views and room to relax.
Finally, a complete Casa del Mar stay includes dining at The Catch and a visit to the spa. The signature restaurant, Catch Restaurant and Sushi Bar, serves “market fresh” cuisine. Executive Chef Jason Bowlin offers something for all with local seafood, farmers market vegetables, and salads. The atmosphere is lovely with soothing shades of white-on white décor and a backdrop of picturesque sunsets. Don’t be surprised if you see a few movie stars enjoying night outs at the Catch.
Finally, be sure to visit the eco-friendly Sea Wellness Spa, an intimate boutique spa. They offer progressive treatments like their HydraFacial for anti-aging and ultimate hydration. Their NaturaBisse line is wonderfully hydrating, as well.
What to do when you’re outside the hotel? Hit the Santa Monica pier of course. Take a stroll, ride the Ferris wheel or dine at Marisol’s at the end of the pier.