First look: inside Los Angeles’ hot new Santa Monica Proper Hotel

700 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

by James Wilkinson

While the Proper Hotels brand is a relative newcomer to California’s accommodation scene, the company is quickly set to be a go-to for creatives, corporates and sun-seekers, thanks to a brilliant new establishment in Santa Monica that’s the buzz of the travel industry.

Following the success of San Francisco Proper Hotel, the evolution of Proper continues amid the sun-drenched boulevards and sea breezes of Los Angeles’ cinematic Pacific coastline.

Opening this month (June 2019), Santa Monica Proper Hotel emerges as an architectural wonder just seven blocks from the crashing waves of the ocean, spanning two stylistically disparate buildings linked by an artfully crafted bridge.

With interior design by Kelly Wearstler, the hotel is a lesson in restrained elegance—think nature-inspired palettes, light hardwood floors, and organic textures augmented by artworks from emerging local artists.

The exquisitely pared-down aesthetics provide the stylish backdrop to the neighbourhood’s only indoor-outdoor rooftop playground, complete with pool, cabanas, restaurant and bar. Add in a restaurant serving innovative Californian- and Mexican-inspired cuisine devised by celebrated chefs Jessica Koslow and Gabriela Camara, and an expansive Ayurvedic spa, and you have the hottest hotel to hit Westside L.A. in decades.

Located at 700 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica’s downtown core, the Design Hotels member property is housed across two buildings that present contrasting styles; one is a 1928-built Spanish Colonial Revival landmark building and the other is a sleek, contemporary new-build. Linked by a suspended bridge, the resulting structure not only stands as a striking architectural standpoint in the neighbourhood but also optimises the ocean breezes and abundant Californian sunlight.

The rich Moorish detailing and Art Deco ornamentation of the older building have been conserved and updated, while the sweeping new build is monolithic in nature, creating a soothing palette for the multi-faceted design.

“We’ve thoughtfully restored the historic building to its original glory, from the exterior details to the rich materials we kept inside, and brought in the best local creative talent within the world of interior design, food and beverage, health and wellness, and programming to make the spaces within the building come alive. This is the essence of our brand and something we obsess over,” said Brian De Lowe, President and Co-Founder of Proper Hospitality and The Kor Group.

Santa Monica Proper’s interior design finds inspiration in the tones and textures of the neighbourhood’s famed Pacific coastline. A neutral colour palette is heightened by bold patterns and silhouettes, while organic, natural materials such as wood and stone provide an experiential element to the aesthetics.

Supporting the hyper-local visual concept, artwork has been sourced from emerging and established L.A.-based artists such as Ben Medansky, Morgan Peck, and Tanya Aguiniga.

“As with the design for all of the Proper properties we were intentional about working with local artists to bring a truly authentic and localised experience to Santa Monica Proper. Earthy, raw materials, organic textiles and a layering in of art and landscape bring a rich sensory feeling into the hotel,” shares Kelly Wearstler of the design concept.

Ranging from 325 to 925 square feet, the design of the hotel’s 271 rooms and suites is playful yet placid, layering muted tones and tactile textures with striking geometric shapes. Informed by the kick-back L.A. lifestyle, the result is one of chic comfort defined by over-sized, statement headboards and an eclectic collection of vintage and modern furniture.

Many guestrooms offer living spaces, while balconies and terraces invite guests to embrace the seemingly endless days of summer. The Garden Terrace King Suites offer the epitome of outdoor living with expansive terraces featuring an inviting daybed.

The airy, flowing layout of the guestrooms extends to the bathrooms, accessed through a sliding door and outfitted in peach-toned stone. The obsidian-framed windows flood the space in natural daylight and brushed silver and gold accents add a touch of discreet elegance.

Santa Monica Proper’s crowning glory is the sweeping rooftop deck and pool, complete with a sleek pool, poolside cabanas, and a restaurant with beach-inspired bar. Located on the 7th floor, the rooftop is the perfect perch from which to take in the Westside’s spectacular sunsets, naturally accompanied by a meticulously crafted sundowner.

Calabra, the rooftop’s striking inside/out bistro and bar, pairs ocean views with Mediterranean and Californian inspired cuisine by executive chef Kaleo Adams. However, if the rooftop is a sunseeker’s paradise, the ground floor is undoubtedly a gourmet’s mecca.

Here, a unique collaborative restaurant concept from ground-breaking chefs Jessica Koslow (Sqirl) and Gabriela Camara (Contramar, Cala) is set to disrupt the local food scene. Onda restaurant represents an all-encompassing experience, where Mexican and Californian flavours, ingredients and techniques are celebrated not only in the open kitchen, but also at the bar and tableside.

Presided over by internationally renowned Ayurvedic guru Martha Soffer, the hotel’s Surya Spa offers custom-designed programs supporting physical and mental health. Traditional massage therapies and treatments sit alongside yoga, meditation, and cooking sessions to ensure corporal and spiritual wellness.

A 2,500-square-foot gym will share Proper’s dedication to fitness and more than 24,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor meeting and event space including various meeting areas with capacity for up to 500 will make this Santa Monica’s most proper place for corporate and social gatherings.

Proper Hospitality designs, operates and brands high-end hospitality experiences under the Proper Hotels and Residences and Avalon Hotels brands. The Los Angeles-based company, led by Brad Korzen and Brian De Lowe, debuted their first Proper-branded hotel in San Francisco in 2017.

Santa Monica Proper Hotel is the brand’s second venture and will be followed by properties in Downtown Los Angeles and Austin in the coming months.