Santa Monica: 7 great bars you need to drink at!

If you like a cocktail with a view and are looking for some great LA bars in Santa Monica, here here are my top picks for drink by the beach.

This list will grow over time, so keep checking back if you’re heading to this awesome LA beachside town and want a cool place for a cocktail – and most come with priceless views!

Bar with a view in Santa Monica
Peeping at Santa Monica pier

The Bungalow at the Fairmont Hotel has been waiting to burst onto the scene forever!

This cute beachside bungalow was a boring (albeit not boring for those sitting in there) meeting space when its location and charm were finally recognised.

Now you’ll find an eclectic mix of decor inside including a fireplace and leather suites, to a pool room and little nooks for a quiet te ta te.

But it’s outside with Pacific Ocean views you want to sit under trees dotted with lanterns with a cocktail in your hand.

Bungalow bar Fairmont Santa Monica
I love this bar with ocean views across the road!

This unassuming former office block-now-hotel hides a jaw-dropping chic lobby (with a bar) and an even cooler pool area surrounded by cabanas and high wing-backed chairs.

The Viceroy (and the Tides in Miami which we’ve also stayed in) is designed by my girl-crush Kelly Wearstler, I just love what she’s done with a very plain canvas.

The cabanas can be booked for private groups, but when I was there they were available so we plonked ourselves in one and chose the charcuterie platter with cocktails.

This is a great hotel to come for dinner outdoors or just start (or end) your evening here in the great bar ambience.

pool cabana at the Viceroy
Book a pool cabana at the Viceroy

The Santa Monica Loews Hotel is the best place to come for an outdoor beachside bar with epic sunset views looking across the sand to the pier.

Walk like you own it through the hotel lobby and wind your way down here in front of Loews pool, to where the fire pits are.

They have a tantalising cocktail list and a delicious bar snack menu to while away a few hours with incredible breach front views of the Santa Monica’s Pier as the sun sizzles into the Pacific Ocean.

Loews Santa Monica Beach pool and fire pits
Head outside and grab a seat around one of the fire pits as the sun sets over the pier!

Onyx is the wonderful rooftop bar at the totally styly art deco Shangri La hotel with views of the Pacific Ocean right across the road.

It’s only a stone’s throw from Santa Monica Pier and another great spot for sunsets. Furniture is made from suiting fabric (yes like men’s business suits) and leather.

But if the rooftop bar is a bit breezy go back down to the ground floor pool bar and hang out in a cabana to watch the beautiful people watching each other.

Views from Onyx, rooftop bar at the Shangri La
Views from Onyx, rooftop bar at the Shangri La

Don’t you just love a bar with a Mixologist on the payroll? Say hi to Ryan and get him to whip you up his specialty drink while you enjoy your 18-storey 360 views from the Pacific Ocean to the Malibu Beach Cliffs and over to Hollywood.

Intimate cabanas and fireside hangouts for those chilly LA nights. This is what you call an Ultra Lounge – a signature LA experience.

It’s also where you want to come to meet a rich suit, so I’m told.

Huntley penthouse bar Santa Monica
The Huntley penthouse bar and restaurant

Located at the start of Santa Monica Pier, this delicious seafood restaurant, established in 1923, is one of our favourite places to dine in Santa Monica. We bring our friends here for amazing lobster, crab legs and everything in between! They also serve steaks, so you meatatarians will be fine too 😀

It brazenly lauds itself as being a great location for film shoots with its iconic view of the Pier.

It’s famous for its truffle fries (I was reliably told they are best on earth – even described as crack!) The patio overlooks the 100-year old Santa Monica pier with its gigantic ferris wheel and this place is cool with the local celebs for whole Maine lobsters.

Lobster restaurant Santa Monica
Get a window seat at the Lobster if you can!

The rooftop of the Hotel Erwin, is aptly called High. It is located right on Venice Beach, where medical marijuana is sold from the “doctors clinics” below and you will smell the medication.  

The hotel is about 200m from the sand and two miles from Santa Monica and it has been voted in the Top 20 rooftop bars in America. We’ve stayed here and it’s casual chic on a great location.

Views of Muscle Beach make this a great spot for perving, not to mention the cool vibe and the arty techies from Pixar and the like. (Yes geeks can be groovy!)

Sit in front of the flaming gas heater and watch the sun set. Sublime.

High bar at Erwin Venice Beach
Party on the roof at the Erwin!


If you’re planning to stay in Santa Monica, here are 7 really great hotels that I can totally recommend (some are in the list above – and some aren’t!)


AND I was asked to write about one of my favourite LA beaches, so where did I choose? Of course, Santa Monica! Here’s that story on why I like it so much and other bloggers picks for 4 more. Read it here >>

For the full run-down on Santa Monica bars, click here to Santa Monica Nightlife