Santa Monica Proper, California

Santa Monica Proper, California

Infused with So-Cali confidence – and the Proper Hospitality Collective’s distinctive design – this Santa Monica stay brings loose luxury to the Westside neighbourhood

Proper Hotel Collective’s flagship beauty, this
is a shrine for Architectural Digest subscribers and Kelly
Wearstler interior stans. The decision to open a “proper” place in
between the area’s yoga studios, crystal shops and palm
tree-necklaced beaches was a calculated move – when it landed on
the scene in 2019, this was the town’s first new luxury crashpad in
20 years. Offering an alternative to its hotel-heavy neighbour
WeHo, the opening shook low-key Santa Monica up in all the right ways. Here was a hip
hangout for the downtown crowd to congregate in, away from
beachside tourism tussles.

You come to Santa Monica for that all-American, Californian
beach; you stay for the welcoming, Girl Scout
Cookies-on-your-doorstep neighbourhood vibe. This towering
new-build might seem a little sharp on the outside, but once
ensconced in the hotel’s caramel-toned interior (all handwoven
textiles and ergonomic textures), you’ll feel firmly part of
So-Cal’s sunny sophistication. The design is the handiwork of the
group’s now long-term design partner, Kelly Wearstler, and the
iconic Cali-cool architecture on offer is modelled on the
designer’s own Malibu abode. It’s our interiors Pinterest board
made material (if we had the cash of a Kardashian).

The ergonomic lobby at Santa Monica Proper
A suite at Santa Monica Proper

Wearstler’s architectural showpiece, the lobby, and a
bedroom. | Photo credit: The Ingalls


Temples of AD cover-worthy elegance. We’d recommend booking into
the older wing of the building, where the rooms are more spacious.
All 271 are decorated in biscuit-hued neutrals – a Fenty Beauty
Snap Shadows palette of dun, smoke and peanut – and most come with
terraces or balconies. We were particular fans of the shell-shaped,
padded headboards and maple syrup-coloured marble in our bathroom
(admired while lathering ourselves in Aesop’s best soaps in the
walk-in shower, naturally).

It’s all exactly how we dream our home should look: beachy
neutrals, mid-century styles, palms and potted ferns aplenty, plus
enticing textures all round. Think wood-panelling next to polished
concrete, and green marble tabletops beside Rubik’s Cube-shaped
brown leather sofas. Out of the window we could – if we squinted –
make out the Hollywood Hills above LA’s dusty funk. Other rooms
overlook a central courtyard. All have Nespresso machines,
Bluetooth speakers, televisions and air-con.

What’s for dinner?

The verdant Palma, a free-flowing continuation of the lobby,
serves dinner daily from 4pm to 10:30pm, plating up vibrant Cali
plates in all their cuisine-borrowing glory. Expect oysters doused
in lime-jalapeño mignonette, burrata bosomed up beside stone fruits
and mint, and roast chicken breast with a peperonata sauce. Under
seashell cream parasols up at the rooftop Calabra, you’ll find a
mezze menu (don’t miss the crisped halloumi with a peach chutney),
plus plusher mains like lobster and squid-ink spaghetti, and prime
beef rib.

A sea of brown interiors in a suite at the hotel
Cali sunshine lights up a chair

Textures collide in one of the suites, left, and one of the
bathrooms. | Photo credit: The Ingalls


You can take it in the lobby-come-bar downstairs, but, on
weekends, we’re taking ours up on the roof. Both menus are packed
with classics – think proper waffles, an LA take on the full
English and (because this is California) plenty of gut-friendly
dishes like apple and date bread with raw honey, soaked-overnight
oats, and a Greek goddess yoghurt bowl. Coffee is on tap from 5am
(helpful, if you’re trying to kick the jet lag).

Is there a bar?

Yes, Palma, a free-flowing continuation of the lobby. Take a
seat around the monolithic bar (decorated with a mural by local
creative Ben Medansky) for small-batch spirits and craft

The rooftop pool, though, is the nucleus of the hotel,
attracting a mixture of guests, locals and work-from-anywhere
millennials to its sun-soaked expanse. Expect poolside Zoom
meetings to be taking place in the day, then, as evening arrives,
the mood ramps up a notch. Book a seat at sunset to catch the sun
dipping beneath the Atlantic, spicy pineapple margarita in hand and
a plate of Cali-inspired sushi at your side.


The Ayurvedic Surya Spa is the kind of space you feel like
you’ll run into Gwyneth Paltrow in; a place where you can book into
a private yoga consultation, rock up for a sound bath or bathe in
the radiant energy of an all-day wellness experience involving
full-body coffee scrubs and four-handed herbal oil massages. The
hotel also has a 24-hour fitness centre, boot camps on the terrace
and a calendar of hotel happenings, from DJ sets in Palma to
chef-guided market tours. Paddleboards and surfboards are available
to rent, too. WiFi is free.

What are eco-credentials like?

The Proper Hospitality Collective is pretty hot on this, and is
always looking to reduce its environmental impact. Interiors
utilise locally sourced, vintage and natural materials where
possible, the hotel has on-site filtration systems for water, and
it regularly partners with local environmentally progresive
organisations to support green projects in the neighbourhood.

A brown-tiled seating space in the spa
Sunset  drinks on the hotel rooftop

A sleek spa corner, left, and sunset over the hotel rooftop.
| Photo credit: The Ingalls

What about accessibility?

There are lifts to all floors and some rooms have been adapted.
Santa Monica, unlike most LA neighbourhoods, is also quite
well-contained and easy to navigate.

What’s the crowd?

Cali cool kids congregate in the (now-iconic) palm tree-filled
lobby, or up on the roof to shoot their latest swimwear reel.
You’ll also find multi-hyphenates holding meetings in the alcoves
downstairs. We also spotted a surprising number of young families –
all in matching Pangaia sets, obvs.

Within a short walk I can find…

Rent an e-bike from Proper to hotwheel it down to the buzzy
neighbourhood beach (or stroll for seven minutes), stopping off at
Santa Monica’s farmers’ market, 11 blocks down, to pick up picnic
bites for a sandy-toed supper. Head the other way to swing by
for chocolate chip walnut cookies and herbal iced

Although a bit of a bop – about a 30-minute walk – the indie
boutiques on Abbott Kinney, ranging from planet-friendly athleisure
brands to manifestation stores (think healing crystals, tarot cards
and loads of sage) and the odd vintage book library – are worth a
visit and offer the true Santa Monica experience to a T.

Things I should know…

Families love this hotel (and even bring their dogs). Don’t go
expecting an adults-only oasis.

The Lowdown

Doubles cost from £340.

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