Only a big stretch of sand stands between you and the sea at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, where the mouth-dropping bi-level lobby extends beyond the scattering of conversational fire pits to the great outdoors. Inside, lanky palms reach toward the ceiling, while a huge poolside hot tub beckons year-round. Other benefits of the beauteous Loews include an ambitious staff, ocean-view rooms, a pet-friendly policy, and an alluring lobby-side restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and its own fire pit for yet another unobstructed view of the majestic Pacific.

1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica