Cruising Paradise: The Shangri-La Hotel

First built in 1939, Santa Monica’s Hotel Shangri-la has always had an illustrious past. This, after all, is the hotel hideaway where Sean Penn famously courted Madonna. Parked on a prime beachfront spot on Ocean Avenue, directly across from the beach, the Streamline Moderne building, whose rooms each showcased a dazzling view of the Pacific, had grown a bit frayed around the edges in recent years.

But thanks to a $30 million renovation one year ago, the Shangri-la has been restored to its former status as a Santa Monica oasis by the sea. Owner Tamie Adaya infused the Shangri-la’s now swank surrounding with a touch of high-end mod inspiration—culled from favorite ’60s designers, such as Biba and Vivienne Westwood—while staying true to the Art Nouveau and Deco design.

Rooms feature sleek wooden and chrome fixtures and furniture, with leather and crocodile accents in muted brick and mocha tones, cast in clean modern lines by West Coast design kingpin, Marc Smith. Plush Frette terry cloth robes greet guests after a long day of kicking it poolside. Black and white cabanas surround the pool—a nod to Hollywood Glam. Thursday through Sunday, Adaya and company host events and parties on the rooftop bar and poolside courtyard—which have become magnets for Santa Monica’s gliterrati to sip perfectly made cocktails in front of the Shangri-la’s gently roaring fire-pit.

If you’re going to book a stay at the Shangri-la, I highly recommend requesting Suite 700. The suite features a balcony that stretches across the suite, bathing the entire suite in a golden glow.

The Shangri-la Hotel, 1301 Ocean Ave.,  Santa Monica, Calif., 310.451.3351, Rooms begin at $405 a night.