This review should have been written months ago (we were there in October ’06) but I’ve been struggling with what I wanted to convey in my review. I really, really, really wantd to give it an outstanding rating and a rave review but I just can’t. The good news is that there were definitely more pluses than minuses.
Let’s start with what we found to be fabulous:
ROOMS - I loved, loved, LOVED our room. The design was beautiful and the décor really fit the beach setting (very serene and calming). The bed was amazing and I loved all the neat touches in the room like the array of interesting beach books on the bookshelves, the selection of DVD’s and CD’s in the armoire, and the wine bar (such a cool idea)! The glassware in the room was high quality which, to me, isn’t something you find everywhere. I can’t quite put into words just how beautiful the room is and truth be told, the room and location to the beach are probably the two main reasons we booked this hotel. I’m kind of a “room snob” and I base many of our hotel decisions on the look of the room. The rooms at Shutters, to me, looked like a room you’d find at a friend’s beach house…laid back, relaxed, comfortable and full of fun and thoughtful touches. Perfect for a week vacation!
BATHROOM – The tub was incredible (perfect size and the jets even worked!) and I thought the “Bath & Beach Chest” was a well thought and unexpected touch. It’s full of things you need (or want) for the beach or bath time like sunscreen, lip balm, items from Bobbi Brown’s beach collection and even products from Ole Henriksen’s spa line. I used some of the fizzy bath cubes and found them to be excellent. Even better, there were enough in the jar for two baths while on vacation and another couple when I returned home. Talk about bringing vacation home with you!
The toiletries Sky Blue designed for Shutters are lovely! The fragrance of the products is exactly what you’d expect when staying by the sea and is described as “fragrant citrus groves, fresh ocean breezes and endless blue summer skies.” So yummy! In fact just thinking about the soap and lotion now make me smile!
I also really enjoyed the small touches in the bathroom like the sporadic splashes of turquoise to match the tops of the toiletries, the beach towel that has different words on it (my favorite were play & laugh), the tiny flat screen TV and the adorable toy whale for the bathtub. These touches allow you to relax and embrace your “inner child” and I don’t know about you but that’s what vacation should be about!
LOCATION - This hotel is truly beachfront and it was nice to be able to walk out the door and literally be on the beach. Just a short walk from the hotel and you’re at the Santa Monica Pier and just a little further away and you’re shopping at the 3rd Street Promenade. We also enjoyed walking around Montana Avenue and although we did take a taxi there, we chose to walk back. We found it fun to see all the neat stores in the area and it allowed us to walk off the yummy lunch we had!
BAR AT CASA DEL MAR – The sister property to Shutters, Casa del Mar, is located next door and has a beautiful bar area. The space is amazing and I’m just sorry we didn’t stumble across it earlier in our stay. It features gorgeous views and the service we had was excellent!
Now for the things that we weren’t so crazy about:
NOISE – One thing I wasn’t aware of prior to booking our room is that a street literally runs in front of the section that houses many of the rooms. Although we did have a nice view of the ocean, we also had a front row seat to the street below us and valet. Many times at night we heard the conversations of the valet employees below, in addition to the street noise and sounds associated with valet.
BALCONY – While it was a lovely thought to be able to sit out on our balcony and enjoy the views while we celebrated our arrival with a snack from room service and a bottle of champagne, the reality was a bit different. The balcony was very small and, truthfully, was about the width of my husband (he’s 6’ 3”). Not only that by your next door neighbor’s balcony is right next to yours which takes away any semblance of privacy you may have thought you’d have. Oh yeah, and if you’re in the block of rooms (like ours) that overlooks valet, you’ll probably feel as silly as I did trying to have a romantic moment with my husband while all the employees could look on.
VALUE – This is probably what leaves the most bitter taste in my mouth and while it may seem trivial to some, it really did bother us. We expected high restaurant prices in the hotel and assumed the $50 credit we received daily with our package would probably only cover breakfast (we were right – and we’re not huge breakfast eaters!) We were also prepared for higher than normal prices on the bottles of water in the room (we’re big water drinkers) but what we weren’t prepared for was to find bottles of water you can buy in a store for $1.99 (in Santa Monica) for $10! Come on, are you kidding me? For the price you pay for a room, I’d expect at least two (one per person) comp bottles of water a day could be given. Is that too much to expect? Maybe it is but that’s what we’ve found at hotels that are just as nice and cost less.
SERVICE – For an establishment that has such a stellar reputation and is consistently touted in travel publications and on travel shows, I was surprised at the level of service we received. I don’t want to give the wrong impression because it wasn’t awful but it sure didn’t measure up to what we’ve come to expect after staying at Four Seasons and various other properties. Maybe it was our fault to have such high expectations but I would have thought it would be reasonable to expect friendly/upbeat service from the concierge staff. Each time we asked for recommendations we were greeted with an indifferent attitude and an “air” of superiority. Very disappointing.
MISC. – Storage space in the room is a bit lacking and while it probably isn’t a problem for those visiting for a long weekend, it proved a little challenging for us (we were there for six nights). Also, I would have liked to have a bit more privacy in the toilet area. A door does enclose this area but it’s a shuttered door which doesn’t allow for the most privacy. I realize these are a bit picky but thought I’d at least mention them.
This is a vacation I planned well in advance after falling in love with pictures of the hotel in travel magazines and on travel shows. I so looked forward to a vacation where we could do nothing but relax and enjoy our time together. While we definitely had a nice time, it wasn’t the “vacation at a friend’s beach house” that I’d envisioned. However, it wasn’t awful either and if you have the $$$ it requires to truly relax and enjoy the amenities, then go for it. I’m happy that we were able to experience it once but doubt we’d ever return.
- Also Known As:
- Shutters On The Beach Hotel Santa Monica
- Shutters Beach
- Shutters On The Beach Hotel
- Shutters Santa Monica
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Shutters on the Beach is more than just a spectacular place to stay, it’s the epitome of Southern California’s breezy lifestyle. This captivating hotel is located directly on the sand and within walking distance of the area’s biggest attractions including the Santa Monica Pier and hundreds of shops and restaurants. For business or pleasure, this quintessential beachfront hideaway is known as the place the high-profile go to be low-profile. ... more less
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