Cowritten by Anthony C. Stafford

When most travelers visit Southern California, and especially the LA area, it’s easy to assume all the things they want to see and do: beaches, food, and the countless famous landmarks, sights, and activities that the region is known for. And more often than not, a hotel that’s situated where most of these things and the “typical LA” experience are is where these travelers will end up.

The Pierside Hotel happens to be that hotel, located in Historic Santa Monica—right next to the pier—and it’s the ultimate destination for travelers from near or afar. Its history and artful influence on the area, alongside the neighboring iconic buildings, make it a memorable experience, complete with ocean views, beach walks, parks, shopping, museums, and some of the finest dining LA has to offer. On top of that, no experience is complete without the people who call Santa Monica home, making for interesting interactions and showing you what life is like as a local. The Pierside Hotel is outstanding in all of these areas, from its devoted team to its prime location, and it couldn’t be a better place to stay for the ultimate LA experience.

Courtesy: The Pierside Hotel

We were welcomed by the hotel’s team for a weekend stay.  We experienced all that they had to offer and, of course, live like locals, taking in the nearby sights, activities, and delectable cuisine.

Laidback Oceanside Hospitality

Anchored at the corner of historic Ocean Avenue and Colorado Avenue, The Pierside embraces bespoke designs that welcome seaside-style lounging and beach-y themes, decorated with plentiful seating, a fireplace, and an aesthetic surf shop. Just opened in January 2023, The Pierside Hotel is one of the newest hotels on Ocean Avenue in 11 years, and it delivers one of the coziest experiences while just steps from the Santa Monica Pier. Boasting 132 guest rooms and suites, coastal views, and a bright, lively lobby, guests are spoiled with some of the finest amenities and features, including an elevated pool experience with food and beverage service, full-service gear rental (surfboards, bikes, and more), a state-of-the-art 24/7 fitness center, and the incredible Surfing Fox signature restaurant with its expansive outdoor patio.

The Pierside pronounces its iconic status as beach-side passersby and guests take in a custom mural commissioned by renowned contemporary artist Shepard Fairey, his largest installation in the area to date. The artwork covers the entire ocean-facing side of the hotel and represents the people of Santa Monica, further echoing an authentic connection to the very best of the city. The Pierside features various local partnerships with small businesses and artists, further showing a devotion to the community. These include Yada Yoga wellness services, Santa Monica Picnic Co. for custom, enchanting beachside picnics, and Santa Monica Surf School.

Upon entering, the hotel’s team is incredibly kind, going above and beyond to ensure their guests’ stays are pleasant, and even offering recommendations for all the things they can do and see in the area or across the city.

Like Visiting a Beach Home

While the guest rooms at The Pierside Hotel are on the cozy side, they feature fusion seating that doubles as a couch or lounge (and a bed! ), making for the perfect place to take in the scenic landscapes, ocean views, people watch, or simply snooze during your down time. Laidback coastal living is the theme, and it flows seamlessly from the lobby and into the suites.

Accommodations include partial coastal views, with configurations ranging from king rooms featuring a queen-size sofa sleeper to rooms with two queen beds. Multi-functional, stylish furnishings that incorporate woven, nautical-like materials and floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the vibrant scenery of Santa Monica, while design elements include accented wallpaper in designated closet areas, plush Boca Terry bathrobes, and bath amenities by Sachajuan. The Coastal and Park View Suites offer additional luxury with oversized showers, dual vanities, Helsinki Bluetooth speakers, and eco-friendly wool throws by The Tartan Blanket Co.

The guest rooms are stocked with some of the latest and greatest industry-standard amenities and features, like multi-dial shower heads, bright lighting, and plentiful natural light. An added bonus is a stack of postcards available for guests to deliver at the front desk so that they can be mailed off free of charge. Send those “Wish you were here!” notes off to friends and family!

Given the location and its history, it’s also fitting that the rooms are on the smaller side when compared to newer hotels, and every square inch of each space is used with intention. Even still, we found plentiful outlets for device charging and more than enough space for luggage, sprawling out and lounging around.

But who will really spend all their time locked away in the guest room when there’s so much out there to see and do!?

A Classic LA Experience

It can’t be understated just how perfect the Pierside Hotel’s location is, mere steps from the Santa Monica Pier, famous for its vendors, ferris wheel, and carnival aesthetic. The historic Ocean Avenue area brings plentiful sun, a cool ocean breeze, endless crowds, attractions, entertainment, and shopping within walkable distance. Not to mention the endless comparisons amongst gamers to the visuals in the “Grand Theft Auto V” video game, notoriously designed to represent the region. For adventurers, a drive up PCH is always scenic, while Griffith Observatory, LA Live, and even the Getty Museum are minutes away.

If you’re not too keen on dealing with traffic, just steps away from the hotel is Santa Monica Place, an outdoor shopping center located next to the Third Street Promenade. Some of the finest stores and dining can be found in these areas, including Louis Vuitton, Coach, Vinfast, Nike, Uniqlo, True Food Kitchen, The Cheesecake Factory, and more, with additional stores and restaurants on the way. Beloved Din Tai Fung is coming soon to Santa Monica Place, which is sure to be a hit with travelers and locals alike.

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to where to eat, with the spectacular Mon Ami just around the corner from the hotel. The Mediterranean restaurant is tucked away in its own closed off perimeter, past other restaurants, but its neon heart logo can’t be missed. Mexican, Italian, seafood, and even fast food are within the vicinity, and if you’re taking a drive into Brentwood or Beverly Hills, consider stopping by Parakeet Café for some of California’s finest whole, ethically sourced, globally and culturally inspired foods and coffee beans.

For those looking for a slower pace, there are even museums at Santa Monica Place, like Cayton Children’s Museum, Arte Museum (coming soon), and Sci-Fi World across the street. The bottom line is that you don’t have to go too far to find the best that the city has to offer.

After those long days of exploration and activity—or even before—the Surfing Fox is always there to give you an astonishingly incredible meal.

Asian-Latin American Fusion

The Surfing Fox deserves every opportunity for hotel guests and locals to come in to dine, and even more so to connect with its team members, who play an integral role in making the experience a stellar one. On top of its excellent service, Surfing Fox dishes up some of the most exquisite meals to be found in hotel-restaurant duos. Passing on the uptight and exclusive luxury appeal most other hotel signature restaurants opt for, The Surfing Fox instead flows with an appropriate yet elevated, chill ocean-front dining style. The restaurant lives up to its name with plentiful sunlight during the day, open-air seating with high tables and booths, a patio with fireplaces to combat those chilly evening breezes, and beachside-style decor that flows seamlessly into the hotel’s lobby.

Upon being seated, guests are welcomed to choose from a range of signature cocktails, dubbed “Foxtails,”  and other beverages. Some of their featured flavors include Passion Fruit, Thai Basil, Prickly Pear, Banana, and Yuzu, while wines and beers are also available to choose from. The menu’s breakfast, brunch, and dinner dishes feature coastal Californian cuisine with an Asian-Latin American-infused flair that blows tastebuds away. The vibrant meals are bold with flavor as the restaurant chefs lean into alluring, subtle, and striking pairings that were made for one another.

Our visit included the following highlights:

  • Hot Chicken Sandwich with spicy Furikake Fries
    • Portuguese bun, koji brined, Oaxacan spices, cabbage slaw
  • Grilled Hangar Steak
    • crispy sweet potatoes, Japanese chimichurri, cured egg yolk
  • Lobster Roll
    • brioche bun, lobster, miso aioli, crispy shallots, fries
  • Crispy Sweet Potatoes
    • ponzu, charred onion aioli, togarashi
  • Ceviche
    • hamachi, mandarin-coconut leche de tigre, fresno chile, red onion, charred orange
  • Guacamole
    • onion, cilantro, serrano, tortilla chips
  • Michelada Mussels
    • beer steamed, tomato confit, tajin, grilled sourdough
  • Cripy Brussels Sprouts
    • pepita aioli, manchego
  • and Desserts
    • Cookies and Ice Cream
      • chocolate chip cookies, vanilla bean ice cream
    • Matcha Crème Brûlée (vegan)
      • oat milk, matcha, coconut cream
    • Champurrado Pot De Cream
      • Mexican chocolate, whipped cream, cocoa nibs

There simply aren’t enough good things that we could say about any of the dishes we tried. Portions are outstanding, and flavors dance throughout each dish harmoniously, with the potential for leftovers. It’s quite possible that guests will likely feel a strong urge to come back to Surfing Fox multiple times to take advantage of the menu’s many options or to revisit their favorites from initial dining experiences. As locals, we can’t wait to come back, but not just for the food. For us, it’s the devoted team that puts the cherry on top of our time at The Surfing Fox.

An All-Star Team to Remember

When it comes to the impact and connection of The Pierside Hotel‘s and The Surfing Fox’s teams, their kindness and knowledge can’t be overstated.

Receptionist Daniel, who checked us in, gave us a warm welcome while answering our questions about the hotel and the historic area, along with the Director of Rooms, Chris Smith. And somehow, receptionist Peyton Mentaberry raised the bar even higher, giving us insight into his time at the hotel and delivering a plethora of nearby recommendations to us and other guests, including Griffith Observatory, how to see The Hollywood Sign, local parks, his favorite dishes at The Surfing Fox, nearby restaurants, and so much more. Peyton actively explores all of the things that make Los Angeles an incredible city full of life and could not be recommended more for guests coming in blind and in need of recommendations across a spectrum of categories.

The team at the Surfing Fox continued to raise the bar of excellence, as Sam, Marea, Isaac Munoz, and Gabriel Ruiz went above and beyond, recommending their favorite dishes and best pairings between them, giving us some background about the restaurant, and simply having incredibly fun and entertaining personalities. Isaac outshines Gabriel when making latte art, but they’re filled with love all the same, while Sam and Marea make you feel like family with their menu secrets and flavorful insights.

So often, we reminisce on all the things that make vacations and hotel stays great, but the people who are responsible for making those times so memorable are often forgotten. The Pierside Hotel and the Surfing Fox have a combined team of some of the best people you’ll meet, so we recommend talking to them, getting to know them, and even making a new friend.

Its easy access to world-class shopping, upscale nightlife, a renowned dining scene, abundant entertainment options, and unique outdoor and cultural experiences make The Pierside Hotel and its signature The Surfing Fox restaurant destinations for locals and travelers alike. As guests are enveloped in the hotel’s seaside flow, they are prepared for the laidback LA lifestyle, seeing some of the very best that the city has to offer, whether within walkable or drivable distance. From the team members who offer great insight into the hotel, its signature restaurant, and key attractions to the countless activities and landmarks for guests to get lost exploring, The Pierside Hotel is a hospitality lighthouse, beckoning to travelers near and far that it is best suited to deliver the incomparable and irresistible LA experience that so many fall in love with. It is the one place where experiences, people, food, and coastal living come together in a way that no other can offer.

Book your stay this summer.