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“Best overall choice in the area on a cost/benefit ratio”

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Cal Mar Hotel Suites
Ranked #27 of 36 Hotels in Santa Monica
Long Island NY
Level Contributor
71 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Best overall choice in the area on a cost/benefit ratio”
Reviewed 3 May 2012

I have travelled extensively to the Santa Monica area and my greatest joy was trying different hotels. I've experienced the best money can buy (Shutters on the Beach) and well, if not the worst, the not-so-good (Hotel California). But for the past two years I've consistently gone back to the CalMar Hotel & Suites as IMHO, it offers the best value for the money.

Notice I said "for the money." You can surely find much more luxurious accommodations in this part of town -- the aforementioned Shutters, Loews Beach Hotel, & Le Merigot are the ones that come to mind. But on a recent search for accommodations in late May, the Loews price was $500+/night vs about $200 at CalMar. If you're looking for a fun, quietly luxurious, bustling "right on the beach" hotel with a lovely pool area, then by all means go to one of those 3 (or many others) and you'll get what you pay for (that's a good thing). But if you prefer more laid back, not-quite-on-the-beach, somewhat outdated (noticeably NOT shabby/chic), not-a-lot-of-amenities but much more affordable option, then CH&S is for you.

It sounds like I'm slamming this hotel, but it's really the opposite. Each "room" is a studio or 1 bedroom apartment, with a full working kitchen, a living/dining room with a sleeper sofa, 1-2 TVs with DVD players and a separate bedroom (unless you opt for a studio). It's set up like a 1950's motel -- 2 stories with doors that open out to communal porches, built in a U shape around the pool. The furnishings haven't been updated in decades, but it's clean and homey. The bathroom reminds me of the house I grew up in in the 60's -- but again, clean and serviceable (if somewhat awkwardly laid out with the door hitting the toilet).

But when I stay here, it's like staying in my own vacation home (if I had one) -- I walk to the 3rd St Promenade for takeout from any number of restaurants there, or to Whole Foods, 2-3 blocks away, and heat-up, or prepare/cook my own meals and eat in my own dining room while I'm watching TV (or a DVD that I've brought with me). Or sitting outside my "apartment" overlooking the pool while reading a magazine. The pool is heated, so if I want to take a dip, I don't freeze my butt off (it's usually cooler in Santa Monica than more inland locales in LA). If I want to walk to the beach, it's only about a quarter mile away -- to the Pier if I want crowds (which I never do), or to the more residential quieter areas -- make a left for one, a right for the other. The "boardwalk" is conveniently marked for distance if you're running/walking/biking or whatever (plenty of bike rental places in the area).

I said this is a quieter option than a big business hotel. That is true only if there aren't a lot of kids or noisy adults in the pool area, since there's not getting away from this common area. Also, you may get street noise (cars and people going to/from 3rd St Promenade) if your bedroom faces that particular intersection, And because everything is open (especially windows, which I think is wonderful, esp in this part of the world with its modulating breezes), if you have a neighbor who smokes, you may end up breathing in his/her fumes. But there's no way to plan for it -- it is what it is when you get there.

If you're on business, this hotel may not be for you. You may not have the time/inclination to cook. You may need business services, or an on-site restaurant with room service. You may not want to pay for the Internet or parking. But if you can trade off any of these points (as I've chosen to do) then this hotel is a no-brainer.

  • Stayed March 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
7 Thank beentheredonethat56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
susansomers, General Manager at Cal Mar Hotel Suites, responded to this review, 6 May 2012
Hello there beentheredonethat, thanks so very much for taking the time to speak about our property and detail the wonderful attributes our property has to offer the traveler. Your commentary was absolutely amazing and we can’t thank you enough for putting all the effort in making it such delightful reading. Have an amazing day!
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Rating summary
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Plymouth, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
167 reviews
57 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 124 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 May 2012

As others have said the rooms in this hotel are very spacious with living room and kitchens as well as the bedrooms. The location is fantastic with all of the shops, restaurants and sea front attractions close by within walking distance. Others have said what a family friendly place this is and that seems to be true. Only down side for us (travelling without children) was that there is relatively little space around the pool if you want to find a quiet spot. If you are not keen on the noise of pool fun for youngsters this may not be the best place for you. Hotels costs were reasonably good (for LA) but still expensive for an extended stay. We used it for the last couple of nights and found its locaton close to LAX to be perfect.

Room Tip: Pools facing the pool were sunnier - but noisier and less private.
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Instep
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
susansomers, General Manager at Cal Mar Hotel Suites, responded to this review, 6 May 2012
Hi Instep, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience during your recent stay at our property, we are always excited when guests take time to share their experience and outline the wonderful amenities the Cal Mar has to offer. We hope that you will return at a future date and enjoy the “Cal Mar” experience. Have a great day!
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London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
213 reviews
55 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 124 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 May 2012

Staying here is like actually living the dream in Santa Monica; groovy man. Like it used to be before Reagan came along. You know, after the war (vietnam). Its cool here. Yes the furniture is new and classy but it still has that casual 1973 style I like. 5 minutes walk or skateboard to beach and nearby bars and chicks....So a great but quiet location. If I had a car (preferably a 1969 Shelby Mustang) it would not be needed here but there is easy parking here if you want. Cal Mar should be preserved as how life used to be before it all got heavy. I hear its all full of happy middle class families now who complain if the heated pool is used at 9pm! Even with costumes on. Its not 10 bucks either now. When I get out of the joint maybe I'll pass by and see if any of the old gang are around.......

Room Tip: Ask for a quiet room it seems. Its great here. Not like the hotels.
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank brianbluebird
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
susansomers, General Manager at Cal Mar Hotel Suites, responded to this review, 6 May 2012
Thank you brianbluebird for living the dream in Santa Monica. It is a picture of a wonderful past and we are delighted that you alluded to the bygone era that our property emanates. We are delighted to accommodate our guests and are hopeful they will enjoy the charm you depict as well.
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Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
69 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 May 2012

The Car Mal Apartments are in Santa Monica. We chose this location to be close to the beach, and also to escape the craziness of Hollywood / central LA itself. After spending a day in central LA, we were pleased we had done this – it was good to be able to escape.

Santa Monica has plenty of restaurants etc but, like all of LA, its all very spread out.

The apartments are just three blocks walk from the beach, and about another ten minutes walk to the Santa Monica Pier. They are just two blocks from the pedestrianised 3rd street promenade where you can find plenty of shops. We also walked all the way from our apartment along the coast to Venice Beach – this probably takes about 45 minutes.

The apartments are spacious and there is an outdoor pool. The plus of these apartments is that there is a kitchen which is supplied with all the tools you need (plus they provide paper towels, coffee for the coffee maker daily, and salt and pepper) which is really practical. We bought some food a few times from Wholefoods (a few blocks away).

You have to pay for Wifi which is rather annoying, and the parking is about USD15 per day.

My only complaint (which I was not expecting) was that the apartments were quite noisy. We could hear the people upstairs as they walked across their floor. Also, we had the unfortunate experience of having a bunch of girls come in very drunk at 330am. We had thought the apartments would appeal more to families, so we were surprised by this. There is a 24 hour concierge who confronted the girls – still, it did not stop the entire complex from wakening up while they were screaming in the apartments.

I would recommend the Santa Monica area to base yourself. These apartments are fine, particulary for longer stays, but I reckon you could get better value for money elsewhere.

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank emmturner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
susansomers, General Manager at Cal Mar Hotel Suites, responded to this review, 6 May 2012
Greetings emmturner, thank you for taking the time to post your experience. We are delighted that you enjoyed the area and our close proximity to all of the venues in our area. We appreciate knowing your cares and concerns relative to our property and take all comments very seriously. We apologize that you were bothered with other guests coming in late in the evening and being a bit noisy; typically, our property is very quiet and laid back but there are those times when we are daunted with outbursts. Again, we so very much appreciate your feedback and we would be honored to host you at a future date.
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Melbourne. Australia
Level Contributor
53 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 April 2012

Our friends live in a small flat on Ocean Avenue and this was a great place to stay while visiting for a few days. The price was great and the location was ideal. It is a block away from both the beach (and the Fairmont resort!) and a block away from the 3rd street promenade shops.

Clean and comfortable bed. Kitchenette with coffee and fridge was also handy. No brekkie but very close to starbucks and supermarket etc so you can sort yourself out easily.

The front desk was also very helpful and organised a car rental for us at a great rate so that we could visit Disneyland.

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank XtoA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cal Mar Hotel Suites

Property: Cal Mar Hotel Suites
Address: 220 California Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90403-3606
Region: United States > California > Santa Monica > Santa Monica
Amenities:
Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#19 Business Hotel in Santa Monica
Price range (per night): ₹ 14,791 - ₹ 23,059
Hotel Class:3 star — Cal Mar Hotel Suites 3*
Number of rooms: 36
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Also Known As:
Cal Mar Hotel Santa Monica
Cal Mar Santa Monica

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