One of our investors is there, and it’s close to LA and the big studios, so I visit three or four times a year.
The first thing you notice is the quality and freshness of the air. It’s oxygen-rich, straight from the Pacific. It’s always about 22°C-24°C, like living in an air-conditioner. It feels like you have been reborn.
It’s sunny, and the sea hugs the city, so you always see the beach. That might sound like Goa, right? But you also have creative businesses, venture capital firms, a unique marriage of pleasure and business. You can do a formal meeting, step out, and, boom, sun and surf! You unwind in 30 seconds.
I try to do all my meetings on the streets, enjoying the Californian weather. Sit in a café, under the canopy, at most buy a coffee to make the owner happy, and watch the world go by.
A Few Pointers
The best way to get around is to hire a car. I am petrified of driving on the left, so I always phone a cab, or get a hotel taxi.
The Georgian, on Ocean Avenue is a favourite hotel; very old, a heritage monument, gorgeous, very boutique. It’s small; seven-eight stories high, less than 80 rooms. Everything is pure luxury. Shutters on the Beach is another favourite: Very high-end, pretty much guaranteed that you will bump into at least one Hollywood celebrity in the lobby. It’s exotic, beautiful rooms. It takes about 30 seconds from your room to the beach!
I love the Asian fusion restaurant, Buddha’s Belly, which serves Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai. They serve a mixed vegetable Japanese curry with sticky rice which is phenomenal. LA’s best pizza company, Joe’s Pizza, is there. Third Street Promenade has a lot of sushi, Asian cuisine, and a couple of Indian restaurants too.
It’s a quiet resort town, but it changes hues in the night. The bar scene is really intriguing. You could hop bar to bar just tasting Californian wine, which is what I usually do. They have a lot of dancing places and of course there are large cinema halls right in the middle of the city.
It’s a nightmare, a curse, for a husband who doesn’t like to shop, because it’s got every departmental store, boutique, budget shop. The best Ralph Lauren collection of shirts that I’ve ever seen is in Santa Monica. I’ve bought all my Ralph Laurens from here.
Santa Monica is a great base for the Los Angeles area. Using public transport, or your own car or a taxi, you can visit all the studios, go to Disneyland, trudge up and down Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, and of course downtown LA.
Don’t expect the hustle and bustle of a city. Santa Monica is best enjoyed outdoors. Be very open about asking people things. There is a tourist/help desk right in the middle of the Ocean Avenue and they are the friendliest people I’ve ever come across. You can ask them anything, even something insane, and they’ll answer it for you. Don’t forget to take your camera because the biggest Hollywood star you’ve ever dreamt of might just be sitting next to you having a cappuccino!