We’ve all seen the quirky ads on TV: gorgeous movie stars and the beautiful people inviting us to visit California and live the Hollywood dream for ourselves … and, for me, the dream recently became reality as I enjoyed a three day whirlwhind tour of Santa Monica as a guest of British Airways.
Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, home to many Hollywood celebrities and executives, and, although it may not be an obvious choice, it is a superb base for touring the region. Its great climate and its stylish architecture made it a famed resort town by the early 20th century and today tourism continues to be a vital part of its economy.
Our flight into the huge Los Angeles on board the new British Airways A038 was as comfortable as you would expect … in fact more comfortable than I expected as we were upgraded Club Class which was nothing short of fantastic. I know many of us tend to get budget-conscious when it comes to booking flights, but this is certainly the way to get your holiday off to a flying start and a touch of luxury which I would heartily recommend. We arrived feeling relaxed and fresh and ready to enjoy everything that Santa Monica could throw at us and, on the return leg of our journey, dozed in ultra comfort in between movie viewing and great food.
High standards of hospitality became something of a theme for this short break. American service is legendary and the hotels we stayed in and viewed as part of this travel trade familiarization tour didn’t disappoint.
Check out Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica where I stayed: it’s not beachfront, but has a really convenient central location and chic modern décor, particularly in the well designed public rooms.
Loews Santa Monica is a 4* ocean front hotel facing the famously ‘happening’ Santa Monica pier. Great choice, particularly if you opt for one of its ocean view rooms (I had to get used to calling the ‘sea’ the ‘ocean’ to demonstrate my sophisticated approach to travel!). We then had hotel inspections of the Fairmont – another beautiful and well appointed hotel, although, again, not a beachfront property. We also viewed the Viceroy which is my favourite hotel, as it is very modern, the staff and service were excellent and the location ideal.
Finding things to do in Santa Monica is (as they say there) ‘so not a problem!’ and I am sure you will come up with your own amazing itinerary for discovering this corner of California, but let me offer two great options which give just a taste of the diverse, occasionally quirky and always memorable days out...
Try the Santa Monica Escorted Bicycle tour, also called ‘the sweetie tour’ as it stops at four different sweetie/coffee shops, each famous for its calorie-packed offerings! Great fun!
Those who know Santa Monica will tell you that no trip there is complete without experiencing Perry’s On The Beach. This is something that is so popular you ought to organize it advance or your concierge can arrange for you. You arrive at Perry’s cafe and are escorted by your friendly (and California sun-tanned) ‘beach guy’ who has already arranged sun loungers and wind breakers for your exclusive use on the beach. He gives you the lowdown on the location and provides a wonderful lunch menu for you to order from – and he’s at your beck and call if you require any further snacks or drinks.
Was it any wonder I didn’t want to come home?
Julie-Anne Vaughan, Portfolio Manager