Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Out and About--Hotel Casa del Mar

The Hotel Casa del Mar is one of my favorite places.  In a city that's often libeled for its lack of history, I love that this hotel proves quite the contrary is true in Los Angeles.  The hotel owes its beginnings to the bathhouses of the late 1800s that were situated here along the ocean just south of the Santa Monica Pier.  This was a time when no one really lived along the coast yet since the center of city commerce was much further to the east.  People would travel to the beach for the day or maybe even camp for the weekend.  But due to the steady influx of people, one that continues to this day, the township of Santa Monica came about in 1875.  

Then came the heydey, as they like to call it, of the hotel...from 1921 to the 1940s.  Club Casa del Mar opened in the 1920s during that era of prohibition and the parties were absolutely spectacular here.  Stars of the silent movies of the 20s and the first talkies of the 30s would come to party here, one of the hottest spots in Los Angeles.  The scene was straight out of the movies and one that I can perfectly imagine.  Despite prohibition, there was known defiant drinking at the Club.  Virtually exempt from law due to the hotel's special relationship with the police, they received the courtesy of a notice before any raid.  And even if police did come in, revelers were simply asked to hide their liquor.  Oh, and also hidden?  Slot machines that actually retracted into the walls before any raid.  I told you...straight out of the movies.  And as a person who is passionate about the history of cinema, I am mad about that part of its history and am quite happy to be part of the continuum when I go there.

As with many properties, Hotel Casa del Mar did go through some growing pains and struggled with identity for years.  But luckily the people who finally acquired it in the end were smart enough to respect its history, had it declared a landmark, and restored the place to its original Renaissance Revival glory.  Just look at the architecture in these photos...multiple fireplaces, stained glass windows, a sweeping double staircase.  It's also decorated with classic furnishings that seem historically appropriate mixed right alongside a little carefully chosen modern art.  It makes for a very inviting combination.

The lady who lunches: 1950s Miss Elliette citron and lace cotton swing dress, 1960s white leather frame bag with double handles, Charles David silver strappy stilettos, silver hoop earrings, and a custom made lucite bracelet with silver toggle clasp (thanks Mary!).  Also a grape cropped cashmere and silk Moda cardigan, which you can see in photos below.

Also inviting is the fact that the hotel is perched overlooking the ocean and there are views of it out many many a window.  First, there's the Veranda Bar, where you can enjoy cocktails with your friends in front of 20 foot windows as the sun sets.  There's also their restaurant, Catch, where I've eaten several times.  Really good really fresh food from a menu that seems to slightly change with the seasons.  It's a very modern interior distinct from the rest of the hotel, and also has windows all around so you can watch the waves as you dine.  This is of particular significance to me since my surf break at Ocean Park is just a little bit further to the south and within view.  There's also a pool outside (yet more views) and a spa, which I believe you can enjoy even if you're not a resident of the hotel.  Truly a lovely lovely place to spend some quality time.

Life is a celebration: My drink of choice is always a glass of champagne

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