There are still some hotels in the world that remain intact from a bygone era. The 1920’s and 1930’s have such a romantic pull for me. Right between 2 World Wars and Depressions and other misfortunate events sounds like romance right? Greta Garbo resided at the Fairmont for 4 years and being an actress of huge influence at the time certainly created some attention. Marilyn Monroe was often a guest. John F Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many more. The Fairmont Miramar Hotel has been in many scenes in many movies and often in TV shows. If you know Santa Monica, you will be aware of this iconic hotel. (Find out more)
It was originally a mansion built by the founder of Santa Monica. The mansion graced the cliffs of Santa Monica and has spectacular views over the Pacific Ocean. That was 1889. In 1912 it was sold to King Camp Gillette continuing the history of vast wealth inhabiting the property. Hotel Gilbert Stevenson later bought the property and converted it into the Miramar Hotel.
The hotel first came into popularity in the roaring 1920’s with many celebrities staying in the hotel in a popular seaside destination – Santa Monica. Celebrities thought the hotel provided a haven from fans and the ever-increasing media frenzy. In 1924 a 6 story wing was built providing apartments for longer stays at the beach side location. In the 1930’s the Bungalows were built and proved very popular with both celebrities and other guests. These are separate from the hotels main buildings and remain today. They were renovated in 2002/03 and house the hottest nightclub in the Santa Monica area today.
Apologies for the history lesson but the truly amazing ability of a hotel to last for over a century without being bought by a developer and sold off and remains greatly as it was is something not to be forgotten. Marvel at this people. Only the very best hotels have managed to adapt to the times and stay on top of their game for this long. There are choices in life, one is staying in a place steeped in history and has a story or a newly developed very chic place with no ambiance and no personality. Now you know where I sit in relation to choosing accommodation.
Well, I give the Fairmont Miramar Hotel a 5/10. I was travelling as a family group. We had selected Santa Monica as we thought it would be family friendly and nicer for the kids than other areas in Los Angeles. Only some of that could be claimed as truthful. The hotels boasts they are family friendly. Yes, they have welcome guests for kids and a children’s menu at the restaurant. They can organise babysitters and all of that. The rooms are splendidly sized for a family and more than comfortable.
Why a 5? We picked the Fairmont Miramar Hotel as it had a pool and we wanted to be able to have some downtime after 3 days at Disneyland. We were able to sit by the pool, but this is not a hotel pool fit for kids. The hotel’s restaurant sits over the pool and as such there are restrictions to noise levels, no splashing, no jumping, no loud voices. Yep. Have you met children before? Have you met children before in a pool environment? Ludicrous.
In the restaurant we were ushered quickly through dinner to ensure our table could be freed for the corporates standing at the bar waiting on a table. The children’s menu was limited but it was adequate in at least we could select a dish for each child.
In the lobby there were many looks of displeasure as my boys boisterously ran to the door off on our adventures. We ended up using the back door to avoid these looks of displeasure. Being collected to meet the bus for Universal Studios, the looks of disgust from both guests and staff as we waited near the Figtree at the front of the hotel while our driver had to disembark to come and find us was outlandish. I mean all guests just know that there are three entrances.
Reception, not very helpful until Day three when a member of staff who had been off was clearly at a different level of customer service to everyone else and was delightful. Bell desk, were so frantically busy with a large corporate function they were not much help. It was not individuals per say but just a general ambiance to the place.
If I had not been travelling with my delightfully loud and energetic children, then I imagine the mojito by the pool as I soaked up the sun would have been a completely different experience. My husband and I possibly would have lined up to enter the Bungalow had we not being paying a babysitter $25.00 per hour to take care of our kids. We did have a lovely dinner across the road from the hotel at Hillstone. The staff rushed us through the meal despite having the latest seating and we had some time to kill before relieving the babysitter.
The hottest nightclub in town
Our intention was to go to The Bungalow, but as we approached and noticed everyone was wearing dresses barely covering their buts or worse, denim shorts with their butt hanging out. We soon realised that we were old enough to be their parents (very young parents but none the less) and we didn’t really want to sit there listening to American late teenagers talk about whatever they were going to talk about. So, we missed out on the hottest nightclub in town. Besides being a guest does not give you a pass to the front of the line and I am way too old for lines.
The hotel does have complimentary bikes but being a family hotel they do not have trailer so for little children or bikes for kids…. Mmmmmm. I took a bike out and cycled to Venice and back and then to Will Rogers State beach to the north. It was easy to see why people are fanatical about Santa Monica and Venice Beach if you had to be in Los Angeles. There are thousands of tourists but this bike path was a true joy. Flat and wide.
The hotel does provide complimentary pickup and drop off locally in the hotel SUV. This was wondrous for the washing we needed to do after 3 days at smelly Disneyland. This was also great for one way walks for little legs. I hadn’t realised the beach was a cliff down form the hotel. So walking down all the steps was a lot for little legs.
The hotel is across the road form the Ocean Way and Palisades Park which provide a lovely backdrop to watch the sun set. Santa Monica Pier is only a few blocks and a great place for kids to spend the afternoon. All this theme park participation left us ‘rided’ out from all the days at Disneyland and Universal Studios, and as a result the people watching was the most enjoyable. My eldest son took great pleasure in purchasing a caricature of himself.
If you look up the hotels’ website you will find reference to the beach club. It seems children staying at the hotel are most welcome at the beach club – off the premises of the hotel. Here you may request a child sized robe. There are sand toys available upon request. Sorry, not upon request, seasonally. There are boogie boards, games, parasols and even towels.
Would I visit again?
In summary if you are traveling without children, I think the hotel would be divine. I think the Bungalows would be even more amazing. For a hotel that claims they are family friendly they are not really. Yes, they will provide services as all good hotels will but they would ‘prefer you did not’ bring your children. This does not create a relaxing, idealic haven by the sea from a bygone era does it?
My personal opinion is that Fairmont is a leading hotel brand throughout the world and they should know better. They can most definitely do better, they choose not to. Families stay elsewhere if you ask me. Leave this hotel to the childless couples and retiree’s.