Beach Stays: Sea Shore Motel in Santa Monica, California
It was shortly after 8 p.m. when we walked in to the lobby at the Sea Shore Motel. We had not had dinner yet and most of the local restaurants were closing in an hour. “We’ll just check in really quick, grab our key and head out,” I thought, naively. There are certain charms about smaller hotels. Instead of a card to get into your room, you might have an old-fashioned key ring. Occasionally there’s a free bottle of water or another small token to welcome you (here it was a key chain). Generally, the experience is more personable and friendly, since there are fewer staff and guests. And sometimes, just sometimes, the night manager will spend 45 minutes telling you the life story of every local business owner when all you asked was, “Is there a place to get fish tacos nearby?” Talk about hangry!
Surprisingly, this was not the first time we’ve gotten caught in a talking trap while checking in for a stay (we had a similar experience at a darling bed-and-breakfast in Maui), so maybe we just have a knack for picking overly friendly hotels, or maybe my husband is too polite to exit a dragging conversation. I, however, was ready to duck and run. So, I now have four items that I require to give a hotel the thumbs up – under budget, clean, great location and a check-in process that takes less than an hour. Nevertheless, I still recommend this property for your next stay in Santa Monica. Read on to find out why.
There’s nothing more convenient than a hotel near the airport, and this one is only about 7 miles from LAX. Though you’ll have to drive 15 miles to get to the Hollywood area from here (which, let’s face it, can take an hour), the location is perfect if you want to be near the beach, away from the downtown LA bustle or really close to Highway 1. We considered all of these factors when we chose to overnight in Santa Monica, especially since we were taking off on a Pacific Coast Highway road trip the next morning. You could easily stay here for a whole vacation though, since there’s so much to do in the little city. Located on Main Street, a delightful, tree-lined thoroughfare packed with shops and restaurants, the motel is two blocks from the ocean and a about a 20-minute walk to Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier or the Third Street Promenade. There also are plenty of bike share stations if you want to avoid taking the car out and having to pay for parking.
When you walk down Ocean Park Boulevard and hit the sand you have two options – head left for Venice Beach or right for Santa Monica Beach. Let’s go left first. Nothing says old-school like the Venice Beach Boardwalk, where graffiti art, skateboarding and flashy t-shirts mingle in one engrossing crowd. Join the homeless population and squat for a bit, you’ll be entertained by mimes, jugglers, musicians and guys that are definitely not on steroids showing off their metaphorical guns at Muscle Beach. When you head back to Santa Monica Beach, you’ll see a stark difference between the neighboring towns. The right side option has a more clean, modern and family-friendly vibe with oceanfront playgrounds and the Santa Monica Pier’s Pacific Park amusement area. Right by the pier, Third Street Promenade is a shopping destination that acts as a car-free downtown zone spread across three blocks. Here you’ll find everything from Bloomingdale’s and Zara to a twice-weekly farmers market.
Accommodations and Amenities
Sea Shore Motel advertises its beachy vibe with the all pale peachy pink and minty blue you would expect. Inside the 20 guest rooms and five suites, rustic tile floors, bamboo furniture and tropical prints add to the character. This is not a luxury property by any means, but the standard king room was big enough to fit an eating area and mini-fridge, while the largest suites have full kitchens. The in-room amenities were scarce with a basic shampoo/soap bundle in the bathroom and no coffee, I repeat no coffee! (Alright, you can ask for a coffee pot, but I like this to just be in my room waiting for me. Plus, we didn’t want to risk another hour-long conversation pre-coffee. Yikes!) All the basic comforts you need – air conditioning, heating, TV and WIFI – were there and worked perfectly. Parking also was free and the lot seemed extra secure since it was tucked around the back of the building. On-site you’ll find a small patio deck with lounge chairs and tables and a little Italian bistro open for breakfast and lunch. All-in-all, for the price (we paid under $200), you couldn't ask for a better option so close to the ocean!