In the ever-expanding realm of LA’s chic boutique hotels, very few feel both contemporary and classic. Which is what makes Ocean Avenue’s Shangri-La so special. Just putting the finishing touches on a radical renovation, owner Tamie Adaya’s personal attention to every detail has made it something of a Chateau Marmont by the sea. Not in terms of style, mind you, but spirit and substance.
Built in 1939 (when it was likely inspired by Frank Capra’s contemporary film Lost Horizon) the Shangri-La now not only restores it’s original glory but truly surpasses it, with a new lobby restaurant, pool deck (above) and penthouse lounge that make the streamline moderne landmark an enviable enclave.
“The hotel is an extension of my house,” Adaya told me last week over some passionfruit Tamie-tinis by the pool. “I love entertaining, I love people.”
I could’ve spent hours on the terraced deck. With a nickel plated bar, fire pits, communal cabanas and oversized Jacuzzi, it’s well designed for social interaction as well as solitude.
That evening, I enjoyed a memorable overnight in a sixth floor suite, with a spacious hardwood-floored living room, full-size stainless countered kitchen, ocean-view balcony, and a marble-lined bathroom sporting the deepest spa tub I’ve ever seen (stepstool provided) overlooking the sumptuous king bed through sexy one-way mirrors (above).
Many eco-conscious touches, Moulton-Brown bath products, free wifi and a well-appointed fitness room added to the experience.
Still I couldn’t help being a little envious of the R&R Suite on the seventh floor penthouse level, with a massive footprint and even more design touches. Across the hall is Suite 700 (above), a deco-style bar—open to everyone–designed by Mark Smith (The Edison, Three Clubs) offering fresh ingredient/high end spirit cocktails, evoking an iconic ocean liner among strings of lights, fire pits and heaters outside, and cozy love seats inside.
In the restaurant, with swivel chairs and a cool ceiling mural, I enjoyed several of Chef Dakota Weiss’ gastro-pub inspired plates, including dates stuffed with goat cheese in a smoked almond pesto; flatbread with chorizo and petite basque (above); crispy orata fish over morels peas and onions; sweet corn ravioli with black truffles–round florettes in a rich earthy gravy; and a lovely lemon basil crème brulee. The ladies at the next table seemed just as happily well fed.
By the way, Hollywood has always appreciated the Shangri-La. Among its former residents are Diane Keaton, Randy Newman, Madonna and Sean Penn. Photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino have shot some of their most iconic work here, Adaya tells me (you can see why). And recent visitors include Christina Ricci, Dita Von Teese the cast of Mad Men, and the band Phoenix.
There’s no shortage of “scene” here either: In addition to the Friday afternoon “Ditch Days” pool parties, Adaya holds chic salons, teas and the upcoming Street Meds art show September 25.
Whether looking for a sensual staycation or a singular date spot, Shangri-La should be on your shortlist.
Hotel Shangri-La is located at 1301 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, 310.394.2791