Ah Shutter Up Your Face: California’s Most Famous Beachfront Hotel
You’ll never feel the need to speak ill of anything, whilst in the bosom of California’s most famous beachfront hotel.
There’s something about the light in Santa Monica. If you could bottle it, you could make af fortune from photographers alone. A gentle stroll into town saw me wander – admittedly very slowly – past three model shoots. The last featured an astonishingly beautiful girl being oiled up by a make-up assistant. I don’t often get job envy but…
In other locations, the envy would have overtaken me towards a Hulk-like sulk, with much stomping and smashing. Ah, who am I kidding? I’m English. All I’d have done is mutter under my breath and fire off a strongly worded missive to The Times. Regardless, I’m not sure anger is even possible in Santa Monica. OK, if you’ve spent some time ‘commuting’ back and forth in a solid traffic jam on the 10 Freeway to LA, you may feel a twinge but for the visitor? With those views, that light, the pier – the official end of Route 66 – the ocean and a farmers market?
And then there’s Shutters on the Beach, a Cape Cod-like luxury hotel located a block or so from the pier. Santa Monica’s proximity to Los Angeles means it’s often referred to as Hollywood-on-Sea and yes, the streets (and coffee houses) are great for people spotting… followed by several minutes of ignoring because, you know, we’re too cool to get excited about Tom Hanks supping a latte or Ben Affleck posting a letter. But when you’ve negotiated one Hollywood legend and one of the Friends before you’ve even reached reception, you might be forgiven a tiny squeak of excitement… before, obviously, slipping back into that air of detached cool.
Detached cool is a good description of Shutters as a whole. It’s pure five-star as you’d expect, but friendly with it, like an intimate B&B. Just being there behind its low-key exterior feels like being part of a secret club, that you’re in the know. But, while those places generally ooze pretence, Shutters just envelops you in comfort. This isn’t a place to come and be seen, this is a place to come and just be, either in the public spaces – all with sea views – or the rooms, also all with sea views.
The rooms are designed by Michael Smith and no, means nothing to me either, but on this evidence, you’d probably let him have a stab at your home. Again, there’s nothing flashy here, nothing that you’d call style over substance, nothing that will terrify the horses or, indeed, bachelors. There’s a sense of beach chic but none of that distressed nonsense. The mod cons are suitable mod and the bed is one of the best out there. And I’ll give a thumbs up to anywhere with a TV and a squeaky whale toy in the bathroom.
The irksome? The tariff of suggested tips. As a visiting Brit, it’s useful to know what the expected gratuities are, but surely you’d rather find it in the room folder than have it as a very prominent list like a fast food menu?
Whatever, it’s a small blip on an otherwise faultless experience. Santa Monica is a great town. Shutters is the hotel it deserves. Now, I wonder if they sell baby oil in Clacton-On-Sea?