Any hotel in Santa Monica is ridiculously expensive. The Cal Mar is no exception, at an average of $180-200 a night. But it's still a good $100 a night less than other hotels in the area. Granted, it is located 1.5 blocks from our son's apartment; that's a huge advantage right there for us. The nearest comps for location: the Fairmont starts at $350 a night and the boutique Huntley similar (I've stayed at the Huntley, which is fabulous; the Fairmont gets an edge for being right on the ocean).
Why the Cal-Mar? We were staying a week, and looking to economize on the room, where we would spend little time. It's an apartment garden-style complex around a courtyard pool turned into a motel, so each 'room' is actually a suite: a bedroom, bath, dining area, living room and kitchen. Lots of room. It's all dated -- or "retro" as management calls it. But it's spotless clean, and that counts a lot with me. We had access to a fridge, dishes, microwave and range. We bought food at Whole Foods 5 blocks away and at the world-renowned Santa Monica Farmers Market a few blocks away, and were glad to have the kitchen elementals to use. Restaurant meals are expensive here.
1) Like most ocean-side properties, there was no air-conditioning so if you run into a warm humid week like we did, a fan and open windows are essential. Which leads me to a complaint voiced by many others:
2) The walls are paper thin and when combined with open windows, means that all the party hounds interrupt your sleep. Til 2 am, 3 am, 4 am. No management attempt to shut them up. We awoke one morning at 7 to find drunk tattooed West Virginia men smoking cigarettes with whiskey bottles aloft in the pool (which didn't open til 9). Other nights we picked out German and French accents for the party crowd in the middle of the night. My husband wasn't shy about asking them to SHUT UP.
3) And yes, as others have written, the trash trucks come around EVERY DAY starting at 6:30 am. Doesn't matter which side of the hotel you stay on, the trucks appear like clockwork.
4) the Cal Mar has smoking rooms, so every European staying in Santa Monica is ecstatic. Half their rooms are smoking, so quiz the desk well about the best location to avoid the smoke. It's a little shocking to find such smoking leniency in a left-wing city like Santa Monica.
So if you don't mind a little sleeplessness and second-hand tobacco in exchange for a great location and some space, this is a good deal. My husband and I are still debating the pros/cons of the Fairmont vs the Cal Mar, ie cost savings vs perfection. We shall see what prevails in the future.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Greetings Dakota56. We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for posting your comments on Trip Advisor, we are delighted that you mentioned our ideal location, cleanliness and all the amenities that our suites offer. We are glad that you enjoyed your stay. We appreciate your comments regarding items that need to be improved, they are all valid and are in our future plans. Our number one desire is to ensure our guests’ comfort. Again, many thanks and we look forward to seeing you in the future!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.