Hotel Review: Palihouse, Santa Monica

A stay at this charming boutique hotel will have you feeling like a local in California.

A cozy suite at the Palihouse will make you feel more at home than like you're at a hotel.

A cozy suite at the Palihouse will make you feel more at home than like you’re at a hotel.

Santa Monica itself is a California dream. Route 66 ends at a buzzing Santa Monia Pier and swimmers play in the Pacific and on the sand. Palm trees, shops, bars and eateries line the main streets, which despite California’s reputation for the expansive are pedestrian friendly. Santa Monica is the perfect amalgamation of west coastal beauty, relaxation and comfort with the ‘trendiness’ of mixologists, boho style and organic sushi joints. Palihouse Santa Monica emulates this unique union in a property that allows guests to live ‘authentically Santa Monica.’

The Vibe: Palihouse Santa Monica is both a boutique hotel and luxury residence. They cater to the savvy, discerning traveller who is inspired by the genuineness of a pedestrian fuelled neighbourhood. That being said, one may feel out of place at Palihouse without a moleskin notebook full of contemplations and musings along side an espresso and plans to take a walk later that afternoon. Unlike a usual hotel, the Palihouse has a more residential, vacation home vibe where people and staff know one another and are totally relaxed in each other’s presence. Arrival through the iron wrought gate at the front of the Moorish European influenced property invites guests into a special society full of the cool, trendy and respected.

The Facts: Designated an official heritage site in 2001, Palihouse is a well-maintained Mediterranean Revival style building that has been in operation since 1921 when Santa Monica was the last train stop for ocean-side vacationers. It still maintains it mid 20th Century charm with oversized leather sofas, oil painted portraits, classic tiled floors and wooden loungers in a small luxurious garden at the back. Thirty-eight rooms are available in either The Classic, a bachelor studio, if you will, followed by the Grand Studio Residence, One Bedroom, Two Bedroom and finally, Penthouse One and Two. The hallways have high ceilings, large ornate crown moldings and perfectly landscaped exteriors. The hotel is a short walk from the beautiful Santa Monica beach.


The Experience: Each room immediately feels like home with large windows and plaid textiles in cool, comforting colours. I stayed in The Grand Studio Residence suite, which like all rooms (aside from The Classic), features an eat-in kitchen with high-end appliances and a sitting area. The décor is 1950s; the kitchenette features a black and white tiled floor, a small round dining table and a classic Frigidaire. The bathroom has a freestanding-footed tub and a sit down vanity leading into the bedroom. As in the lobby, the ceilings are high, the walls don oil paintings and ornate mirrors, and there is comfort in an oversized armchair.

The lack of a licensed bar is a bit disappointing, especially when returning from a late night dinner in need of a nightcap instead of cucumber water. One is welcome to purchase whisky or wine from an off site liquor or grocery store but the hotel does not provide alcohol. This is where the Palihouse feels more residence than hotel. That being said, dinner service is available through the restaurant, Michaels, and they do have a Lobby Lounge Café serving all day breakfast, lunch and snacks with a delicious variety of sandwiches, creamy eggs cooked just right a an array of perfectly poured coffees. Not all rooms have air-conditioning either, a product of the Santa Monica Historical designation, we’re sure. This can be uncomfortable in the California heat but the breeze off of the ocean helps and fans are available to keep guests cool. There are other bonuses available that keep guests comfortable such as In-room dining, same day dry cleaning, valet parking and bike rental for cruising along the nearby boardwalk.

Room to Book: Stay for a week- at least. Enjoy the experience of both a boutique hotel and the intimacy of a residence. Book the Penthouse, wander to the shops and come home to a relaxing, luxury room where you can focus on being on vacation in California. Take advantage of the areas walkability, the neighborhood, the warmth of the sun on your face as you enjoy a morning espresso in the Lobby Lounge. You will feel like you live in stunning Santa Monica in the most perfect of places.

Overall, the Palihouse Santa Monica has done exactly what it has set out to achieve. It is an inviting boutique hotel (and residence) for the savvy and sophisticated traveller. It is a unique space that allows guests to experience the authenticity of Santa Monica with style and luxury.

Price: $$$

Where to Find:
1001 3rd Street
Santa Monica, CA, USA
1 310-394-1279,