FAIRMONT MIRAMAR

Before I first visited Los Angeles many years ago, I imagined a huge urban sprawl, connected by gridlocked streets and traffic choked concrete freeways. Sure, there are parts of Greater LA that live up to that mental picture, but it’s not the whole story. There’s a lot of natural beauty too, from the canyons of the Hollywood Hills to the Pacific ocean-side enclaves like Santa Monica where you can actually get out of your car and walk to the beach or to the shops along palm tree-fringed streets.

Santa Monica sunset

In the Roaring Twenties Santa Monica was a popular seaside resort, and today a lot of ex-pat Brits gravitate out west from Hollywood to Santa Monica to set up home. It helps too that it’s still basically a lovely seaside town, with an excellent farmers market (my story from a few years back here),

Santa Monica sunset

a fantastic oceanside path for running or blading, an outdoor shopping mall (the Third Street Promenade),  a beach for  watching the sunsets (they are phenomenal), and plenty of great restaurants and bars.

Santa Monica sunset

Add in some seriously good hotels and Air BnB options and all those things make it a great place for a holiday too. It’s a destination in itself – you could find enough to do for a week or so here, using Santa Monica as a base for other expeditions but, equally, if I was spending a week or more exploring the Los Angeles area, I would definitely factor in a couple of nights – or more  – in Santa Monica simply because it’s just a very nice place to be.

Santa Monica sunset

(Although do not make the mistake I did on my very first visit some years ago where I presumed that in late spring, and with bright blue skies, I’d be running down that glorious beach for a swim – it’s the Pacific and it’s bloody freezing.)

Santa Monica sunset

This time around I headed straight to Santa Monica to spend a night at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. It’s a venerable Santa Monica institution, and a celebrated local landmark. Originally the site of a private mansion owned by John P. Jones, a former U.S. Senator and the founder of Santa Monica, it became a hotel in 1921, making it one of the oldest hotels in the area.  Thankfully its excellent reputation is the only thing that’s old about it – the hotel has benefitted hugely from a very recent complete renovation project.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

The hotel entrance sweeps round this incredible Moreton Bay Fig tree, one of the oldest in Santa Monica, and it’s extremely popular with brides for their wedding photos (apparently the tree’s general amazingness is a deciding factor in many wedding bookings!). There is valet parking here should you need it, but there is also lots of metered street parking in the near vicinity.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

The bungalows and hotel rooms are arranged around the vast internal courtyard of the Fairmont Miramar – the large building to the left is the 1924 six-story Palisades Wing, which was originally constructed to provide apartments for guests who planned lengthy stays at the beach. Greta Garbo was one of the first celebrity guests to move into the wing and stayed there for more than four years.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Check-in was speedy and painless – I think I properly fell in love with the hotel when I spotted the basket of soft toys for both children and canine visitors (they are super dog-friendly) sitting behind reception,

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

and my room in one of the thirty-two bungalows arranged around the hotel’s huge planted courtyard (above and below) was just steps away from reception.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

The bungalows, with their blue-gray slate roofs, are the only accommodations of this type in Santa Monica. Split between spacious en-suite rooms and bi-level suites, they were originally built in the 1930s, and have been meticulously restored. Whilst the entire hotel has been popular since the 1920s as a favourite getaway for Hollywood’s movie stars, it’s the bungalows which have traditionally been extremely popular with celebrities, thanks, in part,  to each one’s private entrance: Eleanor Roosevelt, aviator Charles Lindbergh stayed here, Jean Harlow rented one of the Miramar’s bungalows in the early 1930s, and years later Marilyn Monroe frequently retreated to the Miramar when she wanted to disappear from the media.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Having holed up here myself for one night, I can absolutely understand Ms Monroe’s thinking. I practically had to be extracted from my room at checkout.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel
(Grosvenor Shoulder Bag by Smythson)

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

I rather fell for this seagull lamp, suspended from the ceiling.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

The bungalow has French windows opening onto a small enclosed terrace. It’s a lovely place to eat breakfast or read a book, but do bear in mind that some terraces are overlooked both at ground level, and by the rooms in the main hotel.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

After a very chilly and bracing walk around Santa Monica as the sun set and the temperatures plummeted in the evening, (LA had been hit by an El Nino storm two days prior and it was un-seasonally freezing), I was glad to draw a bath back in my bungalow, fill it with a self-indulgent half foot of Molton Brown bubbles and luxuriate in the warmth.

Fairmont Miramar bathroom
(CHANEL Nail Varnish in Ecorce Sanguine/671)

The tubs in the bungalows are phenomenal – both domestic and hotel tubs in American are often incredibly small, oddly low and kind of moulded into the walls. These ones, however, are the real deal: straight sided like Japanese baths but long and deep too. Absolute heaven.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

The next morning I woke up to sunshine and blue skies. I flung open the French windows, and ordered room service breakfast.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Definitely a contender for both best and largest fruit plate.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

I was so bludgeoned by jetlag that I couldn’t face the idea of exercise beyond a brisk walk on the beach but, had I felt like exerting myself, I could have swum in the outdoor heated pool,  borrowed a bicycle to bowl around Santa Monica, headed to the spa – a partnership with New York’s exhale mindbodyspa, or used the fitness centre, whose USP is a great outdoor space.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

I didn’t have time to check out the restaurant at the hotel, Fig, but it’s a destination restaurant, specialising in local and organically grown ingredients straight from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. and has had great reviews.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

My biggest regret was that I only had one night in the hotel – the Fairmont Miramar’s Bungalow Bar is one of the city’s hottest destinations. Even without guests first thing in the morning, I wanted to settle in for the day. It’s inside this long low building, situated on the hotel’s entrance driveway.

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

I cant think of a nicer place to hang out for brunch at the weekend. (Reservations are apparently essential.)

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel

The Bungalow: 101 Wilshire Blvd Santa Monica, CA. Telephone: +1 310 899 8530
http://www.thebungalowsm.com/#reservations
Opening Times:Monday – Friday 5pm – 2am, Saturday – 12pm – 2am. Sunday – 12pm – 10pm

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows: 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401, United States. Telephone: +1 310-576-7777
http://www.fairmont.com/santa-monica/

Sasha was hosted at the hotel for bed, breakfast and valet parking in February 2016.

Santa Monica sunset

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4 comments

Reply

That is one gorgeous place, I love the pool area. Which is where I would go at any time of year, because the Pacific is always too cold, as far as I’m concerned.

I lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years, but only went to the Santa Monica beach once. Even during the summer, the Pacific is way too cold for anyone who is used to the warm Gulf of Mexico waters of the South. I was back there in October with the family tweener, but she is way more cold blooded and swam at all the beaches we hit all the way down to San Diego. I shouldn’t have been surprised, she was in the English Channel for hours when we went to Brighton

We didn’t have time for the beach at Santa Monica, though, so I brought her to the Pier. I’d never gone there, either, or the Hollywood Walk of Fame. So I had the unusual experience of playing tourist in a place I’d lived for years. But though I love spending time with the kid, a few days at the Miramar doing nothing but eating, sleeping, reading and hanging out by the pool would be my idea of heaven. What a fabulous way to recharge. It’s going on the list of rewards I grant myself – though it’s going to take some real effort to earn this one.

Reply

What an amazing place. I spend a whole week in Greece in a bungalow just like this. I do miss the oceanside path for running. Actually I miss running. I love every photo of the place.

Reply

Amazing photos, it looks lovely!
x

http://josefinmolanders.blogspot.co.uk

Reply

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