These days when I’m back in LA, I opt not to stay in the fray of the West Hollywood madness or even in trendy Beverly Hills. Rather, a beach girl at heart, Santa Monica is my jam.
If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you’ll know I’m an unofficial Fairmont ambassador (but hey, Fairmont, if you’re listening, I’m happy to make it “official”). While the Fairmont’s properties are few and far between—there are only 19 in the whole of the United States—I’ve stayed at them in San Francisco, Vancouver, Banff, Lake Louise, Shanghai, Hawaii and, now, Santa Monica.
Truth be told, I’d never even noticed the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows during past stints staying in Santa Monica, even though I’ve slept as close as two blocks away. That’s because it’s a rather hidden oasis right off Ocean Avenue that you’d only find if you knew to look for it. But this time my good friend Lana, who has worked in the hospitality industry for decades, pointed me in the right direction.
It’s still funny to me how something can be right off a bustling boulevard and across from the beach and remain so hidden. But that’s the beauty of this resort: Enter the front doors, and you have no idea what tropical paradise awaits just beyond the main building.
My mom and I were there for a quick weekend in January following 10 days in San Diego with the Semester at Sea ship. My plans were to see as many friends as I could feasibly fit into 36 hours; Mom’s were to read as many books as she could finish in the same amount of time.
The resort has been around since 1921, and we stayed in one of the property’s 32 garden bungalows. There are also 302 guestrooms and suites in the main buildings. I love how you can be right in the middle of all the action in Santa Monica and still have a quiet bungalow retreat.
The roomy bungalows are perfect for honeymooners or other couples who crave seclusion. Or mother-daughter duos who come with a lot of (physical) baggage and don’t want to be bothered, it turns out. =)
It wasn’t exactly hot in Southern California when we were there—mid-60s during the day—so while we got to sit out on our patio during warm spurts, a visit to the pool just wasn’t in the cards. All the more reason to come back.
While locals tend not to frequent hotel bars, I have three journalist friends in Santa Monica who revealed that they visit FIG at the Fairmont least once a month. So I met one of them there for what has to be one of the best happy hours in the area (everything on the menu except the steaks is half-price). Kara and I each had two drinks and a small plate for under $20 per person!
One thing I didn’t get a chance to do that I always do when staying at a Fairmont is indulging in their incredible afternoon tea service.
Oh well, I’ll also save that for next time.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the entry area, too. It’s all well-manicured with lovely fountains, but this fig tree was positively magnificent—and a local celebrity in its own right. The 80-foot-tall, century-old icon’s branches spread 120 feet, many an engagement or wedding portrait has been shot beneath it, and ceremonies performed there, too.
Overall, our stay in Santa Monica couldn’t have been more needed. I got to catch up with plenty of friends I hadn’t seen in ages, my mom got to camp out at this peaceful sanctuary where six dogs weren’t barking their heads off in hopes for her attention (not to mention my dad, SVV or me bothering her about one thing or another), and we got to enjoy the convenience of being beachside and an easy walk to the 3rd Street Promenade and all of Santa Monica’s great shops along Montana. What more could you want out of a weekend escape?