Steps from the best of Santa Monica’s beach and shopping scenes, this informal hotel offers efficient service and homey accommodations to travelers looking for a no-frills stay in a prime West L.A. location.
Hotel Carmel’s building was originally constructed in 1924, but the hotel and its surrounding neighborhood have been brought up to speed: the Carmel is steps from the recently renovated Santa Monica Place mall, where yoga moms indulge in luxury shopping and afternoon wine meet-ups in the upstairs boutique food court while skater teens, tourists and harried shoppers flood the nearby outdoor Promenade on weekend afternoons. Hotel Carmel itself is decidedly unfussy; the decor is homey bordering on old-school—guestrooms are decked out in 70s-esque blues, browns and oranges, accented with sturdy wooden furniture and the occasional oil painting. Amenities include premium channel-equipped TVs, coffee stations and free wifi. While the Carmel is less luxurious than some of Santa Monica’s surrounding hotels, you get what you pay for, and you’d be hard pressed to find more reasonably priced digs in the neighborhood. It’s a bit utilitarian, but it’s a comfortable and clean place to sleep, and you’ll probably want to spend most of your day outside, anyway; the aforementioned Promenade is home to movies, shopping, dining, a weekly farmers’ market and more, all at the Hotel Carmel’s front door. Oh, and the beach is a block away, too.
Location: Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade is a shopaholic’s dream, with local boutiques nestled between big name brands and a wide range of pricing. The neighborhood also boasts ample dining just steps from the hotel, though the best part of Hotel Carmel’s location is the beach—cross the pedestrian bridge at Ocean Avenue, and surf, sun and sand are at your feet.
Copa d'Oro: Situated on Hotel Carmel’s ground floor, this low-lit lounge is a haven for locals looking to impress their dates, tourists who need a break from the melee of the Promenade, and industry folks blowing off steam with a ginger-laced Honey Snap.
Pacific Park: The Santa Monica Pier’s rides and carnival games are geared towards kids, but even the most grown-up of adults can appreciate a romantic ride on the Ferris wheel, or a spin on a restored 1920s wooden merry-go- round.
Venice Beach Boardwalk: Head to the beach for prime people-watching among Venice’s famously bohemian crowd. Rent skates, grab a corndog or pick up souvenirs in this kitschy beachside marketplace that seems delightfully stuck in the early ‘90s.
Bay Cities: Mere blocks from the thick of downtown Santa Monica’s chain restaurant row is this authentic Italian deli and bakery. Pack up a few Godmothers—the deli’s most famous sandwich, laden with savory meats like mortadella, coppa, ham, and salami—and a few cannolis for your beach picnic.
Good for: Hotel Carmel’s laid-back vibes and central location make this spot the perfect lodging for families looking for a comfortable, convenient beachside vacay.
Amenities: Free wifi, restaurant, bar, concierge
Time Out tip: If you’re traveling over the winter holidays, be sure to stroll over to the nearby ICE skating rink. Open from early November through MLK day, this 8000-square- foot rink provides rentals, lessons and concessions, making for a fun family outing as well as a cute date idea.
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