Situated on the Santa Monica Bay, SaMo was first inhabited by the Tongva tribe, although it was then known as Kecheek in their native tongue. The first non-indigenous explorers in the area came in 1769. Santa Monica itself takes its name from Saint Monica, but there are different versions to the story. One version says that the area was first explored on her feast day, while another claims the local springs reminded explorers of Saint Monica's tears.
By the 20th century, Santa Monica's population was booming, and the completion of the Santa Monica Freeway in 1966 only brought in an even bigger influx of people.
Today, Santa Monica offers three main shopping districts, a Downtown District, Palisades Park, the iconic Santa Monica Pier, and a number of other attractions. The city is also a mecca for skateboarders. Whatever your reason for visiting Santa Monica, it's important that you find the ideal hotel that allows you to enjoy everything the West Coast has to offer.
When to Visit Santa Monica, CA
Thanks to the region's gorgeous weather, Santa Monica is a popular tourist destination year-round. Its Southern California location and moderate climate tend to keep hotel rates fairly steady, though you can find reduced rates from October to February. Winter and early spring come with the lowest hotel rates, and you'll also find fewer crowds and much less traffic. When you can work on your tan on the beach in January, why not take advantage of the off-season?
Peak tourist season in Santa Monica is during spring break and summer. You'll find increased hotel rates and bigger crowds throughout the summer, although June is the exception due to the “June gloom.” This is a Southern California expression for a weather phenomenon that creates cloudy, overcast skies and cool temperatures. If you don't mind a little ill weather, you can certainly take advantage of the June gloom to avoid the tourists.
Early fall is a good time to visit because hotel prices start to drop. Crowds have tapered off somewhat by this time, but you'll still enjoy consistent 80-degree temperatures.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Santa Monica, CA:
Averate Rates by Star Rating
Below we've posted 3 graphs displaying average nightly cost patterns by star rating class in Santa Monica, CA. Analyze these illustrations to evaluate the best dates to book in Santa Monica for upcoming travels.
Luxury Hotel Options in Santa Monica, CA
4 Star Average Prices: $253.61
If you're looking for an upscale hotel in Santa Monica, there are several unique choices from which you can choose.
Shutters on the Beach is an impressive five-star oceanfront property offering three on-site dining options, an outdoor pool, spa, and beachy ambiance. Guests can enjoy cottage-style rooms, each uniquely furnished with homey touches. If you're really looking to splurge, opt for the Beach House Suite, which is a secluded, spacious suite located on the property's highest floor. With over 1,350 square feet of living space, you'll feel right at home.
The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey is a sophisticated accommodation boasting tennis courts, Los Angeles' only waterfront pool and whirlpool, and a contemporary farm-to-table restaurant. Perched on the marina, this five-star hotel offers skyline or water views, a state-of-the-art fitness center, eucalyptus steam rooms, and a club lounge. Guest rooms feature high-speed Internet access, twice-daily housekeeping and turndown service, terry cloth bathrobes, overnight shoeshine service, designer bathroom amenities, 49-inch flat-screen TVs, an in-room safe, goose-down comforters, Egyptian cotton linens, and on-demand movies.
A 1920s-era oceanfront retreat, Casa del Mar in Santa Monica offers an on-site sea wellness spa, fitness facility, waterfront lounge, seafood restaurant, and gorgeous event spaces. Rooms are uniquely decorated but feature the likes of four-poster beds, hydrothermal massage tubs, marble bathrooms, high ceilings, coastal-colored textiles, white-and-blue Chinese porcelain decorations, personal patios, and ocean views. Opt for the Penthouse or Presidential Suite to enjoy the best amenities (and views) in the house.
Affordable Hotel Options in Santa Monica, CA
3 Star Average Prices: $192.10
Finding an affordable hotel in Santa Monica is easy if you're willing to look inland. Pavilions Motel on Ocean Park Boulevard is a straightforward budget motel offering simple rooms, on-site parking, and free Wi-Fi. The unassuming one-star property is located in a residential area less than seven miles from the Los Angeles International Airport, offering you an affordable home base for exploring the city.
Palm Motel on 14th Street is a Greek-style accommodation offering free morning coffee and cookies, Wi-Fi, and simple guest rooms. Pets are also welcome, although a cleaning fee is required. One of Palm Motel's biggest draws is its close proximity to The Getty Center, Beverly Hills, Malibu, and Hollywood.
A two-star accommodation on 32nd Street, Ocean Park Hotel offers modern rooms with communal bathrooms, giving you more of a hostel-type experience with a private room. Guest rooms feature flat-screen TVs, microwaves, refrigerators, and either two twin- or one queen-size bed. Coin-operated laundry machines are available, and you can enjoy free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
Super 8 Los Angeles – Culver City Area is a little further out, but this two-star lodging offers budget-friendly rates, free Internet access, breakfast, and on-site parking. The motel's location provides easy access to the Pacific Coast Highway, Interstate 405, Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Universal Studios.
2 Star Average Prices: $149.73
Santa Monica: Real Discounts
If you know where to look, you can save even more money on your trip to Santa Monica by taking advantage of discounts. The Comfort Inn Santa Monica – West Los Angeles offers special rates for seniors, AAA members, AAA/CAA members, federal and state government employees, and military members and their families. These discounts can save you up to 20 percent off the hotel's best available rates. What's more, if you've earned enough Choice Privileges points, you can redeem a free night during your stay.
Many area hotels offer the same types of discounts. In addition to AAA, AARP, and military rates, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Santa Monica offers special vacation packages. The Santa Monica Pier Package includes two adult wristbands that entitle you to unlimited rides on the world-renowned Santa Monica Pier. These special deals tend to be seasonal and change frequently, so check back with your favorite hotels often to score the latest package deal.
Best Value Options in Santa Monica, CA
Although Santa Monica is home to some costly accommodations, you can find many mid-range hotels that provide you with exceptional value for the money. Days Inn Santa Monica/Los Angeles on Santa Monica Boulevard is a three-star hotel boasting a beachy pink-and-white façade. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast, covered parking, and Wi-Fi access. Thanks to the hotel's close proximity to the nearest bus stop, you can easily hitch a ride into downtown Los Angeles or the Santa Monica Pier. The property also offers 24-hour front desk service, handicapped-accessible rooms, a business center, and in-room refrigerators.
Comfort Inn Santa Monica – West Los Angeles is a relaxed hotel offering a heated outdoor pool, a free weekday newspaper, and complimentary Wi-Fi. A hot breakfast is included, which allows you to fill up on waffles, eggs, meat, fresh fruit, and yogurt before spending the day sightseeing. Nearby attractions include Venice Beach, UCLA, the Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Beach, and Universal CityWalk.
If you're willing to splurge just a little, The Hotel California – Santa Monica is a hacienda-style mid-range hotel offering guest rooms and suites decked out in surfing-themed décor. Guest amenities include free Wi-Fi, breakfast, coffee, tea, fruit, premium mattresses, and a lovely Spanish-tiled courtyard. The property's 27 guest rooms feature hardwood floors, flat-screen TVs, cable channels, surfboard-style headboards, and 300-count Egyptian cotton linens.
An Insider’s Guide to Santa Monica Pier
Travelers that come to Santa Monica will undoubtedly find themselves at the Santa Monica Pier. Originally built in 1909, this California icon is both an instantly recognizable landmark and family-friendly amusement park overlooking the Pacific coastline. The Santa Monica Pier consists of a large video game arcade, vintage carousel, Pacific Park, a small aquarium, trapeze school, fishing spots, restaurants, and food vendors.
If you're in the mood for a carnival-type atmosphere, you'll definitely want to ride the rides at Pacific Park. The famous Pacific Wheel is a must, as it provides some of the best views of the coastline. Other great rides include the West Coaster, the Pacific Plunge, and the classic Sea Dragon ship ride. There are also a number of kid-friendly rides for the youngest visitors. While you can buy individual tickets to ride the rides, the unlimited wristband is a better deal. Also, if you plan to fish on the pier, no permit is required.
Whether you're looking for a sophisticated luxury hotel on the beach or a budget-friendly accommodation closer to Los Angeles, you can find the right hotel for your needs and budget in beautiful Santa Monica.
Santa Monica, CA summarized
Songs have been sung hailing the beauty and life of one living in Santa Monica. It may be the beaches, or it may be because people simply fall in love in Santa Monica that makes the place extra special. If anything, Santa Monica is a mixture of fun and laughter, and a little bit of history. Movie buffs will surely have fun running around Santa Monica as many sceneries and sights may be familiar. After all, there have been hundreds of movies that have been shot in Santa Monica. Besides, it could be the climate that captures the hearts of tourists as it never seems to rain in Santa Monica, having more sunshine in a year than any precipitation. Tourists will surely enjoy the many historic landmarks found all over Santa Monica, such as the Looff Hippodrome, Parkhurst Library, Georgian Hotel, and the impressive Sovereign hotel. When in Santa Monica, tourists can shop to their heart's content or just laze all day under the sun at the Santa Monica Beach. Besides, you never know who you run into at the famous beach!
'I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.'
These are the famous words of Bob Dylan, perhaps the greatest modern songwriter, who was born in the city of Santa Monica. These words, somehow, manage to distil what the essence of Santa Monica is all about. It's a city of heroes, of men who have shaped history, women who have inspired millions and events that have changed America.
The single most important claim to fame that Santa Monica has worldwide is the fact that it houses some of the most expensive real estates in the world, and quite deservedly so. With calm, cool Pacific to the west, and the liveliness and glitter of Los Angeles all around, Santa Monica is a like jewel in the whole geographical setting. No wonder hundreds of global celebs love to call Santa Monica their home. Tourist and travelers, before visiting Santa Monica, need to be aware that in accordance with this glitzy status, hotel prices in and around Santa Monica are somewhat to the north of average. Finding cheap hotels in Santa Monica is much an exercise in futility.
Economy Options in Santa Monica
As noted earlier, it's quite a task to find budget hotels in Santa Monica unless you have some personal arrangement with a hotel owner, or you are in for an extended stay. The only way to bring your accommodation costs down in Santa Monica is to strike such deals or stay for a period of at least 30 days, after which your stay will be considered to be a long stay by most hotel managements.
Finding a luxury hotel, on the contrary, is quite a lot easier in Santa Monica. Call it the supply-demand relationship or plain opportunism, luxury hotel scenario in Santa Monica is thriving. Those who have deep pockets and who do not hesitate in spending some bucks to make the most of their stay in a city like Santa Monica, there are over 50 luxury hotels in Santa Monica.
These hotel establishements range from impressive and neatly managed 3 star properties like Sea Shore Motels and Georgina Hotel to extravagant, lavish and somewhat intimidating 7 star properties like Hilton Santa Monica, Oceana, Shan Gri-La, Casa Del Mar, Palihouse etc. Some of these establishments charge as high as $300 per night. But rest assured, if you are willing to spend that much, you are guaranteed a royal treatment from these outfits.
What Being a Tourist in Santa Monica is All About
Before going on to a sightseeing trip in Santa Monica, there are certain things you need to be aware of. First of all, Santa Monica is a beachfront city. Hence, quite understandably, it boasts of hot and humid weather during the whole year. Because of this, you should be well stocked on tan oils, suntans, sun blocks, shades, panama hats and flip flops. After all, what is the point of visiting a beachfront city if you don't enjoy the weather and water?
Many tourists might know Santa Monica beaches, if not by names, then by sights, as countless episodes of Baywatch were shot on Santa Monica beaches. Another thing that might stand you in a good stead if you are traveling to Santa Monica soon is that it is a city that's best experienced rather than seen. To experience Santa Monica, you need to soak the atmosphere in. You need to walk to places, rather than being driven to them, you need to enjoy the street side Mexican and Latin delicacies with as much passion as you enjoy the sophisticated seven course mean in a fancy restaurant. For nature lovers, Santa Monica has a slew of public garden, eco-roofs and beachside walkways. Apart from this, many open air theaters present a great way of getting some dose of art and culture.
Santa Monica Pier provides early morning views of the Pacific, and lucky tourists can catch sights of famous California gulls who frequent the pier during peak summers.
Hotels Near Santa Monica's Airport
There are over 30 different hotel establishments in the vicinity of Santa Monica airport. However, over 90% of all tourists visiting Santa Monica arrive via the Los Angeles Int. and Domestic airport, rather than landing at Santa Monica airport itself. Santa Monica hotels present near the airport include high-end places like Fairmont Miramar, as well as a range of fairly priced motels that can provide affordable short stay for tourists. Motel stays are especially recommended if you have hired a private car to drive around.
In that sense, motels are the only cheap hotels in Santa Monica, and as a tourist, you need to prepare yourself to compromise with certain expectations in order to save up on your accommodation expenses.
How to Get Around in Santa Monica
Transportation in and around Santa Monica is not a matter of inconvenience as many options exist for tourists who want to either see local sights, or travel to nearby places like Hollywood, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
Santa Monica is well connected to LA by road, and taxi service across the two cities is present at very affordable prices. Unlike other Californian cities, taxi services between LA and Santa Monica is free of city levied charges, making it a popular budget option for tourists, travelers and locals alike. All Santa Monica hotels of sophistication provide free airport shuttle around the clock for the convenience of their guests. In addition, there are many private tour companies that run day trips around Santa Monica in open top buses. It's a concept that has really caught traction in Santa Monica, as travelers can revel in the scenic and man-made beauty of this idyllic city at a leisurely place.
All said and done, it must be said that if you are traveling to LA, a short stay in Santa Monica will definitely be a good idea, especially if you want to unwind and get away from the hustle and bustle of LA.