Why The Proper is the Best Hotel in Santa Monica
Written by: Kelly Martin
Published on: January 12, 2023
All photos courtesy of The Ingles
When the Santa Monica Proper opened in 2019, it managed to eclipse all of our old standbys as the best hotel in the city. The Kelly Wearstler–designed space weaves together the things we love most about living here, like the casual orientation toward wellness and the way the city hits the coast. We’re looking for reasons to step through our doors (and hang onto a vast collection of gorgeous sofas): vacations, staycations, nights out—even most recently, a daylong beauty retreat Which we hosted for 90 guests.
Book a stay and you’ll get parachute robes, travertine showers, space to spread out, and the kind of bed you can roll around in all day. But you don’t come here to sit in your room, however decently appointed it may be. Appropriately, you’re within walking distance of some local favorites: I love Astor’s for its eclectic mix of natural wines and inventive cocktails, Huckleberry’s for the highest expression of coffee and pastries, and Father’s for insanely good burgers and extensive beer list office . or hit the beach; I prefer to keep my distance from the pier, hop on the bluffs of Arizona or Montana Avenue, and stroll north toward Will Rogers Beach. (You’re also a quick rideshare away from Venice and Brentwood — field trip to Country Mart, anyone?)
And then there are the many treasures inside the proper: two great restaurants, an oasis of a rooftop pool, weekend workouts and a world-class Ayurvedic spa.
Dinner and Breakfast in Palma
On weekend evenings, everyone at Palma, the restaurant right off the lobby proper, is there for a good time. Here’s the move: Take a seat in an alcove carved into the wall and order plates of truffle-y arancini and cheesy bucatini, along with some perfect picks from the sommelier. And spend your dinner overlooking the room. It’s lively, fun, softly lit, and spacious—everything you’re looking for in a festive but not too wild night.
In the morning, Palma takes on a whole different vibe for breakfast: It’s mellow and perfect for working your way through a flight of Ayurvedic lattes and the prettiest bagels this side of the 405.
Calabra (and the Pool)
Propper’s Terrace is home to Kalabara, its second restaurant, and one of the best patios on the Westside. If you are here for dinner, seafood and sushi are your first choices. Even if you’re just here for the cocktails, don’t skip the snacks: I had the paprika-dusted hummus, which comes with a gorgeous pile of grilled spiced luffa for dipping.
If you’re planning on spending an afternoon soaking up the sun, ball out to one of the poolside alcoves, propped up spin on cabanas. Some days feel relaxed and rested; Others call for bottle service. Book a morning reservation for the former, afternoon for the latter.
PANCHAKARMA AT SURYA SPA
Downstairs, at Surya Spa, you can book a massage or scrub, of course. But people come here for panchakarma, an intensive Ayurvedic detoxification that typically involves 3 to 28 days of treatment as well as a prescriptive dietary protocol. Surya’s founder, Martha Sofer, is also the resident chef, herbalist and master panchakarma specialist.
Treatments usually begin with abhyanga, in which two practitioners massage your body in long, light, sweeping strokes. His movements are perfectly coordinated and symmetrical. This is supernatural. From there, Sofer prescribes a second and third treatment based on how your pulse is responding. For example, to address cold, dry, windy energy, Sofar prescribed me nasya — an herbal sauna followed by a vigorous head and neck massage — and shirodhara, in which a practitioner pours herbal oils over your third eye. .
Saturday and Sunday, you can do a morning workout on the garden terrace: Vinyasa yoga, or HIIT if you’re feeling something more intense. That said, you will work up a sweat in Vinyasa—instructor Rebecca Beringrud sees whether you have the strength or flexibility to take a position to the next level and guides you along the way to get there.
surya to go
Don’t check out without picking up some gifts from Surya. Whenever there’s tea to soak up a botanical bath to hop in your tub (or recreate the spa experience at home), and skin care is taken with your elemental balance in mind. Collagen Cream has earned cult status for its incredibly rich and nourishing texture, and it’s tridoshaka – which means that from an Ayurvedic perspective, it’s suitable for everyone. The face oil is lightweight and smells really nice. And the Lip Therapy balm is seriously silky. Oh, and you see that tool with the rounded ends? This is a Kansa stick – the same device Sofar used to massage my face and neck during my nasya treatment at Surya. It is magic for facial massage and helps to work the cream and oil into your skin.
Goop, $155buy now
You can pick up the whole set in the Surya Discovery Kit at the spa — or here on goop, if you want to get in on the goodness sooner.