Review: Oceana Santa Monica, Hilton LXR
Hilton’s LXR Hotels and Resorts are known for unparalleled, personalized service in an immersive setting, which I got to experience for the first time last year at the Mango House Seychelles. The brand has since become one of my personal favourites.
At the end our family trip to Anaheim, we decided to spend two nights in Santa Monica before heading home. This gave me the perfect excuse to burn a Hilton Free Night Reward and try out the new Hilton LXR property there.
Oceana Santa Monica is the the brand’s first property in the United States, and opened in early 2021. The property is meant to mimic that of a beachside residence, like a home away from home, rather than your traditional hotel experience.
Oceana Santa Monica – Booking
I booked our two-night stay at this hotel using 95,000 Hilton Honors points and a Hilton Free Night Reward from my Hilton Aspire Card. Our two-night stay was over a weekend, and unfortunately, the hotel didn’t allow single-night bookings over weekends in the summer.
I initially wanted to use a Free Night Reward from both my husband’s Hilton Honors account and my own, but unfortunately the system wouldn’t allow for it. As we found out, apparently it wasn’t something that neither Hilton’s central reservation line nor the hotel could do.
The standard redemption of 95,000 points booked me into a Oceana Double Queen Suite, which was pricing out at $1,020 (USD) ($1,388 CAD) at the time. We value Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents per point (CAD), so I was pretty happy with the value of the redemption.
One thing to take note is that the property charges a daily resort fee. This resort fee covers Wi-Fi, yoga sessions, bike use, water, coffee, newspaper delivery, in-room streaming, a welcome gift and beverage, and use of their house car.
The good news is that resort fees are waived on award bookings.
Book a stay with Prince of Travel through Hilton Impresario and enjoy exclusive additional benefits at no cost to you, including:
- Daily full breakfast for two guests
- Room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in
- Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
- $100 (USD) property credit (benefit may vary)
- Double Hilton Honors points at select properties
- Third, Fourth, or Fifth Night Free at select properties
Book Oceana Santa Monica
Oceana Santa Monica – Location
Oceana is located in the heart of the residential neighbourhood in Santa Monica, just north of the coastline.
The closest airport is Los Angeles International Airport, which can be anywhere from a 20–40 minute drive away, depending on traffic. From Anaheim, it took us just over an hour to get to the hotel.
Although the property is not truly oceanfront, the beach is easily accessible with only a 10-minute walk. All you need to do is cross the street, head down a ramp, and then walk over a pedestrian bridge to get there.
As the hotel is perched above sea level, the property still provides direct ocean views.
The main points of interest in the area require a bit of a walk. Santa Monica’s downtown district is roughly a 15-minute walk, and the Santa Monica pier is a 25-minute walk from the hotel.
Note that the hotel provides complimentary bicycles for guests to use, which can shorten the travel time.
Oceana Santa Monica – Check-in
A few days prior to check-in, I received an email from the hotel asking about my arrival time and if we had any requests. I replied asking if an upgrade into a suite could be accommodated, and received the generic response that they would do their best upon arrival.
We arrived at the hotel in the early afternoon, and since the hotel is only three stories high, from afar you wouldn’t really notice it. However, as you draw close, there’s a building with a leafy, ivy-covered facade, and you’ll know that’s it.
There’s no driveway to pull into, but rather you just pull up alongside the curb in front of the hotel, where there’s a stand directly in front of the main entrance. A parking attendant was manning the stand when we arrived, but if you arrive and don’t see him at first, he’s probably just inside the main doors.
He welcomed us to the property, helped us unload the car, and advised us of the parking situation.
Only valet parking is available at the hotel for $60 (USD) per day. Should you prefer to find parking elsewhere and save money, there is metered parking along Ocean Avenue, the street in front of the hotel.
Although street parking is subject to availability, we did not have difficulty finding parking when coming back from our activities in the late afternoon or in the evening after dinner.
Street parking on Ocean Avenue costs $2 per hour, up to a maximum charge of $10 from 9am–6pm, and then it’s free afterwards. If you happen to be staying on a Tuesday, note that there is no parking allowed between 7–9am.
In case you are unable to find parking, the hotel is ok with you paying for valet only on the days it’s used during your stay.
The entrance is quite grand for such a small building, with a nice stone staircase leading you to a set of double glass doors.
Upon entering the brightly-lit lobby with a cathedral ceiling, you get an immediate sense of warm yet chic luxury. There are a few seats arranged around a coffee table, and a fireplace behind it, as if walking into someone’s living room.
I was immediately welcomed by the check-in staff, who happened to be the manager on duty. She thanked me for being a Diamond member, and informed me about my $50 daily dining credit.
She didn’t make any mention of the resort fee, but perhaps that’s because my booking was made on points.
After giving me some information about the property, as well as my room key, she handed me a small bag as a welcome amenity. I later opened this to find a small box of chocolates from a local Californian vendor.
She also made no mention of a room upgrade, so I decided to “suite-talk” and see if any upgrades were available.
The normal upgrade would be to a One Bedroom Lanai Suite; however, these were unfortunately all booked during our stay. I noticed on the Hilton app that a much higher suite category was available, namely the Penthouse Signature Oceanfront Suite with Terrace, so I enquired about it.
The manager was very helpful and went into the back to see what she could do. When she returned, she advised me normally the upgrade fee is $500 per night, but she was kind enough to offer it to us at a fraction of that cost, so I accepted the offer.
Oceana Santa Monica – Penthouse Signature Oceanfront Suite with Terrace
Walking to our suite, we passed by a lot of rooms with cute French doors and a swing just outside. Unfortunately, ours didn’t have one, but it made up for it with its other features.
At 800 square feet, this suite, much like the other 69 suites in the property, was massive. The extra space was definitely welcomed by my family, and the hotel didn’t make a fuss about us bringing in a third child.
The door opens up into the living room, and my first thought was how spacious the suite was. The room was clean, well appointed, and brightly lit from the large windows letting in the afternoon sun.
The suite was decorated in light relaxing tones, with some dark blues and bold wall art to add a bit of contrast. It all contributed nicely to the luxurious but comfy beach home feel.
The floors were carpeted, and the walls were decorated in a textured light grey wallpaper, in contrast to the darker coffered ceiling atop. When you look at the furniture pieces, they are all very different in style and in colour, but somehow, it all blended well together.
I really appreciated the amount of lighting in our room, as more often than not, I find properties don’t provide enough lighting. That was not the case here, and aside from the windows which ushered in natural lighting, there were lamps wherever there were seats, in addition to pot lights above.
There was also plenty of room to sit and lounge after a day out. In main living room area is a large velvet couch that opens into a sofa bed, flanked by two side tables.
One of these was actually a mini-fridge with drinks inside. Two armchairs on either side of the sofa make for a nice area to socialize, with a coffee table in the middle.
In front of the large window overlooking the ocean is a large bench, big enough to be a bed for a younger child.
Off to the side of the room was another love seat with an oval table, where you could have a meal. My youngest decided to make this her bed.
Behind this was a bookshelf full of books of varying genres. Beside it was a cupboard that housed the minibar, which was full of snacks and drinks.
If you’re looking for the price list for the minibar or their dining menus, you’ll have to scan the QR code on the coffee table.
Interestingly, there is no tea and coffee station in the room. Rather, there is complimentary tea and coffee in the lobby for all guests to use.
In the centre of the room is a large flat-screen TV mounted on a pole, so it could easily be swivelled to achieve the right view. Behind the TV is a double-sliding door that opens up into the bedroom.
The bedroom consists of a four-post California king-sized bed, with a dark blue bench at the foot of it. Off to the side, you’ll find a dresser, which has another flat-screen TV overtop.
The setup is actually quite nice for a mom or dad who just needs a bit of “me” time, while the kids can be enjoying their time in the living room area.
The windows here open up into a small balcony where you can enjoy the ocean view. I actually appreciated that the balcony access was through the main bedroom rather than through the living room window, away from where the kids would be sleeping.
The night tables on have lamps with dimmers, and the USB ports and outlets are hidden from plain sight, just behind the lamps. Interestingly, there was no clock of any sort.
On the other side of the room is the closet, which has a safe inside, and then the bathroom.
The bathroom is decorated with light aqua and grey tones, and marble tiles. There is a tub and shower, which is convenient for a family, but only a single sink.
Under the vanity is a scale, which I personally prefer not to use when on vacation. Two bathrobes are provided, as well as fancy Bottega Veneta toiletries.
Although we never received a welcome drink, in our room was a second welcome amenity, which consisted of a small platter of macaroons and berries alongside a welcome note.
In the evening, they provided turndown service and left a nice box of sweets on the night table end off the evening.
Water and Wi-Fi are complimentary throughout the hotel.
Oceana Santa Monica – Deluxe Double Queen Suite
I was able to take a look at the hotel’s standard Deluxe Double Queen Suite. Although it’s called a suite, there is no separate seating or work area in this room.
It was decorated in the same fashion as our suite, but at 500 square feet, it was around 40% smaller. I found that it is still quite spacious compared to standard hotel rooms elsewhere.
The window was also smaller, but still allowed in a good amount of sunlight. The minibar was located on the desk, rather than having its own cupboard.
Of note for young travelling families, there is a large closet that can easily fit a stroller. Furthermore, the bathroom doesn’t have a bathtub, and only has a shower.
Oceana Santa Monica – Dining
Oceana has one main restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can also order food by the pool.
We enjoyed our breakfast here on both mornings. Our $50 (USD) dining credit was just enough to cover two entrees.
The menu is à la carte and the food was good but pricey, as expected at a hotel of this calibre.
If you prefer something a bit cheaper, you can head down to the beach. There are a couple of beachside eateries that offer breakfast for a bit cheaper, but not by much.
Prior to our arrival, we bought fruit, cereal, and milk for the kids, and they were more than happy with that.
You have the option to sit outside on a poolside deck with seating set up, or inside in their restaurant.
In the evening, the hotel transforms the ocean view terrace into lounge that is open for drinks and small bites. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to enjoy this during our stay.
Oceana Santa Monica – Other Facilities
The Oceana Santa Monica has a cute heart-shaped pool in the centre courtyard of the hotel. There are loungers, sofas, and daybeds with comfortable cushioning around the pool.
Umbrellas are positioned between them to allow for adequate shade, along with side tables.
The side tables are equipped with call buttons in case you are in need of immediate service. Pool attendants make the rounds, but not too often.
Towels are located in baskets in the far corner of the pool deck, while a water station is located in another corner.
There were areas were the plaster was coming off the pool edge, but a staff member was already repairing them the same day we noticed them.
There was also a spa and a small but well-equipped fitness centre with free weights, as well as Peloton treadmills and bikes.
Complimentary yoga sessions are given every morning. Sometimes they’re held on the ocean view terrace and other times, they’re done across from the hotel on the grass.
Bikes are also available, and are complimentary for guests to use. It didn’t appear they had bicycles small enough for children, but if you need them, there are a few bike rental shops by the pier that had plenty.
If you’re heading to the beach, staff are happy to provide a beach bag with towels to take with you.
Oceana Santa Monica – Service
The staff are courteous and welcoming, and very often checked in to see if we were in need of any assistance.
Some service staff don’t speak English fluently, so there were a couple of occasions where we had difficulty communicating our requests. When this happens, they were always quick to find someone who could assist us.
The website makes note of a house car for use under the inclusions for the resort fee; however, no one mentioned this service to us during our stay.
We thoroughly enjoyed our two nights at the Oceana Santa Monica. The spacious suites provided the comforts of a home away from home, while the quaint pool setting gave it a resort feel.
With an additional touch of luxury in the mix, Oceana Santa Monica is a wonderful beachside retreat for couples and families alike.
As for service, there are some minor deficiencies, but none that significantly impacted the quality of my stay. Although I’ve yet to find a property that has staff as personable and experienced as the Mango House Seychelles, the Oceana Santa Monica was a worthy Hilton LXR property to follow it up.