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“Fantastic place at a price”

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Oceana Beach Club Hotel
Ranked #2 of 36 Hotels in Santa Monica
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 10, 2012

I love this hotel. Nice service, beautiful hotel but the rooms are the show stoppers. I was upgraded to a Lanai Suite, which was outstanding. It felt more like a condo than a hotel room. The decor was stunning.

The pool area is nice but small and closes at 6.

Nice location in Santa Monica. Nice restaurants a short stroll away.

Would stay here again in a minute.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled on business
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2  Thank BulldogMatt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 4, 2012

We were very impressed with our experience at Oceana. It's a small boutique-style hotel just across the street from a beach fronted meandering park. The staff is young, stylish, and consistently friendly. We had an one bedroom suite, towards the back of the property, which worked for us as it was quieter than an ocean-fronted room. The room was colorful and well designed for vacation comfort. The hotel offers the free use of beach cruisers and we loved biking along the ocean, heaven! We suggest you have dinner in their small dining room. We ate a gourmet meal and watched the sun set while we planned our next trip to Santa Monica. We usually prefer not to spend quite as much on a hotel room but we feel that it was worth every penny. To the management of Oceana...well done!

Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
1  Thank Nancyclairemuir
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2012

The Oceana is clearly aiming to set itself apart from the "standard" luxury hotel. In many ways it succeeds in its mission, but unfortunately it fails in others due to physical issues which I suspect the management simply cannot overcome.

We stayed at here for three nights on our West Coast vacation, booking a Lanai Suite for two adults and two kids (9 & 11).

First impressions are great. The hotel is set on Ocean Avenue, eight blocks north of Santa Monica pier. The front of the hotel looks towards the ocean across the palm-lined avenue and a small park. The view is slightly deceptive however, as the hotel is a good 500 feet back from the beach and 70-80 feet above it on top of the bluffs. Highway 1 runs between Ocean Avenue and the beach, but is invisible from the hotel due to the change in elevation. The result is a fantastic outlook, but it requires a major expedition to walk down to the beach. You could well imagine spotting the great and the good of Hollywood jogging along the side-walk in this neighbourhood.

The location is some distance from the pier and the third street promenade area (with its many restaurants and shops). Consequently, there is nothing much going on around the hotel which is in a residential area. The upside in that the area is quiet and not overrun with hordes of tourists (unlike the environment around the pier, which also has a lot of down-and-outs making a nuisance of themselves).

The downside is that it is a long way to the action if you have small children or you are not good on your feet, albeit a pleasant and safe walk. Adults can borrow bikes from the valet team which looked like fun, but we opted to walk down and grab a cheap cab ride when coming back (five or six dollars, with cab ranks opposite the pier and at several points along Third street).

We found the valet service quick and friendly, with the guys literally stood at the kerb-side outside the hotel ready to leap in to action. The reception area is small and tastefully furnished and we were checked in efficiently. As we arrived just before three, we had a short wait by the pool in the central courtyard as our room wasn't yet ready. The high standard of service continued throughout our stay, with a genuine feeling that the staff wanted to help (rather than the impeccable but soulless corporate hospitality that you get at larger luxury hotels).

Our suite was on the first floor at the rear of the central courtyard. These rooms are set up a short flight of stairs, about five feet above the level of the pool, whereas the other first floor suites on the north and south of the building are level with the pool area. The slightly elevated position was better, as you still have direct access to the pool but without lots of other guests wandering around directly outside the glass double doors of your room (which have wooden shutters on the inside when privacy is required).

Describing the area outside the suite as a 'Lanai' is perhaps stretching it a bit. There was an archway set back from the walkway and railing, furnished with a small wicker chair and adorned with a couple of purely decorative tied-back curtains. You could sit out there if you wanted, but the whole courtyard feels like your front porch so you might as well walk down the steps to the pool area or the outdoor fireplace and be more comfortable.

You can glimpse the ocean through the large glass doors of the restaurant on the other side of the pool, but there is no external view to speak of. Overall though, the courtyard with small and large potted plants dotted around the walkways and the pool in the middle is something rather different that the usual hotel scene, and has the potential to be quite charming and intimate (sadly not, but more on that later). If you want a view of the ocean, you will need to book a different room class, but we were happy that we had been given exactly what we were expecting.

At the rear of the suite there was a sunless mini-balcony barely big enough for a single wooden lounger which looks directly across a narrow alleyway to the rear of the apartment blocks on 2nd street. Not somewhere to spend any time. We did hear a bit of noise early on the Friday morning from garbage trucks picking up, but it was quickly over and hardly unexpected in an urban area.

The suite itself consists of a large living area with a double sofa bed, big coffee table, a small desk area set in a nook, a games table and a large flat screen TV. There is a big expanse of empty space on the TV side of the room; even when the coffee table is pushed forwards and the bed unfolded the room feels like it could do with another armchair, a beach volleyball court or something equally substantial to fill the space. The spacious bedroom has a big double bed and a flat-screen TV, and the bathroom has a bath with a shower over it.

The whole suite is decorated out in cool greens and washed-out seaside tones, with lots of shells and sea-side ornaments dotted around. Done badly it could have ended up like an eccentric B&B owner's cluttered dreams, but in fact it is very well executed and feels like something out of a glossy home design magazine. There is adequate storage space, all the fittings and furnishings worked well, complimentary WiFi access performed with no problems and the accommodation was of a high standard overall.

We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant twice and the breakfast buffet once. Prices were very much on the steep side, but the Oceana's small but delightful dining room with its view of the sun setting through palm trees over the Pacific justifies the price. The quality of the food was of a very high standard, and the service was really good but not overly stuffy or formal.

So far so good, so why have I only given the Oceana three stars? I have done so with a heavy heart, since the good parts of our stay are up there with the best of the other high-end hotels that we frequented on this trip. The hotel management have obviously tried very hard to create a particular ambience and guest experience and so nearly succeeded, but ultimately failed due to factors that they cannot really control.

The first issue is one raised by other guests, and that is the noise of people moving around on the higher floors. Clearly the fabric of the building is an old apartment/condo type block and the floors are slabs of concrete that pick up and transmit noise very effectively indeed (particularly people walking around and moving chairs). We were not particularly bothered by noise in the bedroom even though it was audible, but our kids complained that they were kept awake by a lot of noise when sleeping in the main room of the suite.

I am not really sure what management can do about this as I really don't think our upstairs neighbours were practising their tap-dance routine until late night, just that even small sounds come right through loud and clear. Confiscating guests' shoes and issuing fluffy slippers at the front desk maybe? I guess they could try thicker carpets or some kind of sound insulating flooring but it would be a major undertaking. Their usual TA response of 'requesting a top floor room' clearly doesn't work, as nearly three quarters of the rooms are below someone else's. This is something to be aware of if you are a light sleeper or bothered by noise.

The second, and much more significant, issue was that the pool and courtyard area simply did not deliver on its potential as a relaxing space at the times we were there. It was more like a holding pen for unruly preschoolers on time-out than the sophisticated hideaway for the discerning traveller that management are so clearly striving to create.

We would arrive back at the hotel after our trips out at maybe 3:30 or 4:00pm. The pool would have a couple of people sat around in loungers enjoying a cocktail and a few swimming in the pool. Each time within 30 minutes or so, various families would arrive back with their offspring and a seeming-riot would erupt. We grinned and bore it so that our own kids could have some pool time. As they were slightly older, they were following our instructions not to bomb in to the water, shout and screech or break any of the few simple pool rules issued to all guests on check in.

Before you assume that I am on some sort of 'my kids are little angels and yours are a nightmare' kind of rant; I am not. No five-year old, no matter how well behaved, is going to paddle around the pool meekly in silence. Older kids can appreciate that fun and japes which are appropriate for the pool at Disneyland are not necessarily going to be welcome in a hotel like the Oceana, but a small ones (of which there were far too many) cannot be expected to exercise that level of self-control for long. Nor is it realistic to expect the staff to tackle guests who have small over-excited kids for breaching the pool etiquette (although thinking about it, the Four Seasons certainly demanded that several guests remove their inflatables when we last stayed, but nobody did so at the Oceana).

After a couple of hours in the enclosed space of the courtyard, which traps and magnifies the noise so that half a dozen kids sound like forty, we were in no way relaxed, and in fact rather more wound up than we started. Thankfully the pool closes at six prompt, so we thought we would enjoy our dinner at one of the tables in the courtyard next to the pool.

Cue arrival of two families who decided to encourage three of their preschoolers to let off steam before bed by running and shouting around the table where we were sat (six inches to a foot away). When I complained to the parents (very civilly and after more than ten minutes of this) they could not really see what the problem was. Needless to say the next evening we requested a table in the far corner inside the restaurant and had a much better time of it.

I fully appreciate the difficulty that the hotel faces here. They're not going to turn away paying guests by banning families, or demand payment of some kind of good behaviour bond. Unfortunately the mix of a numerous young children, a tiny pool and a courtyard enclosed on four sides is not going to create a luxury beach hotel ambience. It is more akin to time by the lake at summer camp on a hot day; great if that is what you are expecting, but it wasn’t what we signed up for.

I don't have any solution or expect the hotel management to be able to do any more than they already have done, but the plain fact is that if you are unlucky to find yourself in a similar situation here, there is just nowhere quiet to escape the bedlam. You may find your experience to be less than the relaxing break you had hoped for, which is a shame as the Oceana has so much potential and the management clearly succeeding in all of the areas that they can directly control.

Room Tip: Top floors will be quieter, but if you can brave a Lanai Suite go for 114, which is at the back and...
  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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16  Thank amonynous
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 2, 2012

We came back to Oceana were we stayed two years ago. It didn't change. Still clean, nice people, nicely decorated. We stayed for four nights in room 202. This is a one bedroom suite with a gorgeous view at the ocean. The room is big, we stayed with our two teenage-girls in this room. They slept in two rollerbeds in the livingroom and we still had enough room to sit on the sofa. There is also a small veranda. Our bed was fantastic. We really enjoyed our stay in this room. There is a seperate shower and bathtub with great bathroom aminities. Food in the restaurant is very good, so was the wine. We loved the truffle-fries! At nights the hotel looks so nice, with all the lights and the pool.
We had our breakfast at the hotel every morning. We were a party of 8, with another family and it was a good, quiet start of our day together in the nicely decorated breakfast room. We also lent the beachcruisers to bike to Venice. Really great! Location is also very good. You have to walk 10 minutes to the centre of SM, which is nice. The neighborhood is quiet and elegant.The people working at the reception are very helpful and friendly. They gave us good advice about restaurants, helped us printing our tickets and did everything to make us feel home, again.
Thank you Oceana! We would love to come back next time we visit SM.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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2  Thank anitahoogendoorn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 22, 2012

I am sad to say that I was so busy on this trip that I barely had time to stay at this wonderful hotel! Our room was clean, great, and very big! The people who work at the hotel are very nice and helpful. Also, most of the rooms have a pretty nice view of the ocean. Like to add, the pool closes at six, which was disappointing because I did not arrive back at the hotel until then. Also parking was over $30 a night. Other than that the hotel was absolutely WONDERFUL!

Room Tip: Rooms in the front have a great view of the ocean!
  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank travelgal12698
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2012

We were looking for somewhere with exemplary location, quality and service to start our honeymoon in California and the Oceana Beach Club achieved this in spades. From the helpful and cheery but not overbearing staff (which to fresh off the plane Brits can be slightly offputting) to the amazing room and delicious food and wine in the restaurant we loved our stay. Slightly further north from the hustle and bustle of Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney Blvd but closer to very relaxed but high quality areas such as Montana Ave. Even better are the free bikes and internet that the hotel offers. We did think about putting the car into one of the nearby public carpark as $36 a day was the Hotel charge but Honeymoon laziness put paid to that. Overall fantastic and whilst expensive would heartily reccomend if you are looking for something special.

My Wife in particular loved the bed linen and the toiletries.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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4  Thank Hussar6838
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2012

We spent 12 days traveling California and the Oceana, Santa Monica was the last stop of our vacation. We were looking forward to our beach front hotel or at least beach front view (very misleading). We checked in a bit early and were told we had to wait until 2 pm to get our room. At 3 pm we were finally given the keys to the room. We asked where our room was in the "Melrose" style hotel and we were told we were "unfortunately tucked away in the corner"!! Are you kidding me...we could have stayed anywhere in Santa Monica (Loews, Fairmont) and we decided to stay here. Needless to say we immediately complained that this was not ok without even seeing our room. We were told we were upgraded to this room...what did our original room look like because it couldn't get any worse location wise.

Our room was large with comfortable beds and pillows BUT the VIEW WAS TERRIBLE! Spending over $500 a night (plus $36 for parking) should not have bought me a view of the alley, garbage and garages. No balcony, no view of the street/ocean, no view of the pool.... In the mornings we heard the garbage trucks picking up the garbage (not the way we usually like to wake up). Any other hotel would have compensated us in some way, instead we leave the Oceana and Santa Monica with negative image in our minds.

We were in room 217 and being on the second floor also gave us the lovely sounds of people walking/stomping above us. The floors are carpeted and I have never been anywhere where we heard everything above us....even the tv.

The hotel was not able to move our room even after numerous complaints. They said they would pay for our breakfasts (which they didn't and that was not going to make up for our room) Very disappointing end to our trip. The hotel really should have tried harder in some way to make us happy. We would have checked out if we had not pre-paid for the hotel that was a brisk 20 minute walk to the pier and any action in Santa Monica.

Needless to say....we will NEVER be back at the Oceana or will we ever recommend it!!

Room Tip: Guarantee your room is at the front of the hotel before committing to the hotel!
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank TorontoChloe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jessica R, Manager at Oceana Beach Club Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded August 3, 2012

I am very sorry to read that your visit was less than ideal. While it seems like we were able to get you into your room at 2pm as discussed at arrival, I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t like the location of the room that you reserved. Our hotel has 70 rooms, 52 of which are suites and all were reserved during your stay with us. Whenever possible, we upgrade guests when availability allows and I sincerely apologize that we were unable to move you. With particularly sensitive sleepers, we do suggest that guests request the highest floor available. While not excessive, the foot traffic from above, can be a factor, especially if any guests are traveling from overseas and still have a sleeping schedule on a different time zone.

It is quite rare to hear that the traffic is disruptive to a guest’s sleep as we are the furthest north of all the hotels in Santa Monica, which does make for a quiet evening time atmosphere both inside and outside of the hotel. Furthermore all of our windows are double-paned glass to eliminate noise. The hotel always advises our guests to call the front desk to make us aware of any noise, such that we can go through a checklist of potential ways of alleviating the problem.

Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me directly. It is our priority to not only make you feel welcomed, but to offer you the peace of mind knowing that should you need anything, we are ready to listen and respond appropriately.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Oceana Beach Club Hotel

Address: 849 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403-1003 (Formerly Hotel Oceana Santa Monica)
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Santa Monica > Santa Monica
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 36 Hotels in Santa Monica
Price Range: $475 - $704 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Oceana Beach Club Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 70
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Oceana Beach Club Hotel is luxury boutique hotel located in the premier residential neighborhood of north Santa Monica. With sweeping oceam views, spacious rooms and suites and coastal California cuisine at Tower 8, Oceana offers guests the quintessential coastal California experience. ... more   less 
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