We had originally wanted to stay at the Fairmont Santa Monica because despite all its drawbacks (dated rooms and very average customer service), it is still probably one of the most convenient and nice hotels in the area. Their special rate was already unavailable months ago though. So we ended up at the Meridien instead because it is still (kind of) in the area and the price was right.
I wasn’t reallyexpecting the Meridien to be 5 star quality (the Fairmont barely met it), but I was expecting a solid 4* maybe. But after 4 nights at the hotel, I was again and again surprised by how lacking the hotel is.
Location: it is supposedly in Santa Monica, but in reality it is a 15-20 minute walk from the centre of everything (or a 5 minute/$4 Uber ride). It is about 4 blocks inland from Shutters on the Beach. We enjoyed a morning run to Venice Beach (another very unimpressive place) and back. There’s really nothing much in the vicinity. A really expensive organic juice bar. A gas station. And a Walgreens.
The saving grace of all this is the complimentary valet parking, which was a big plus. It was a point of pride, after hearing others complaining about the ridiculous valet charges they are facing at other hotels!
The hotel: I am not sure when, but you can tell that the hotel was recently renovated in the not too distant past. By the artfully arranged sofas and bicycles in the lobby, as well as the art deco wallpapers and brightly coloured carpets. But you cannot just change the case and pretend you have a new iPhone.
The hardware of the Meridien is evidently outdated. You can tell by the exterior. The super dark lighting in the lobby. The hollowed designed of the hotel interior (by hollowed, I mean you look up and you can see rows of open hotel room doors – they just don’t design hotels like this anymore… ). The sad looking pool. And most of all, by the rooms.
The Room: the first thing I noticed when I entered the room was not the spaciousness nor the somewhat hip decor, but the in-unit air conditioner in the corner. I know I should be grateful that at least there is an a/c, but I have never actually stayed in a room with a in-unit a/c inside before!! It is not even the new kind. This is the loud and stubbornly blows straight at our heads. In the end I had to block half the vent with a brochure. You have to use primitive methods to deal with primitive hardware.
The second thing we noticed is that the lights are not centrally synchronised. You literally have to go from light to light to open it individually. We actually had to have one of our light bulbs replaced. But even after everything lit up, the room is still rather dark at night. Maybe because of its size. To their credit it was a rather large corner room.
The third thing we realized was that the hotel does not have in room dining service late at night. Not even a simple club sandwich or a pasta. They only had ready-made cold sandwiches available…. which did not sound appealing at all. When asked whether we can order take-out, the staff kindly suggested Classics Pizza (Papa Johns was not available), which delivered in about 30 minutes.
When we were trying to order the pizza online, we then noticed that the wifi signal was terribly weak/slow and erratic. The staff offered to help us restart the router twice, but to no avail. Later we tried to request another room closer to the wifi, but we were told that the corner rooms are already supposed to get good wifi….. In the end, we just relied mostly on our own mobile wifi. So if you have actual work to do and need the Internet, think twice!
The fifth thing we noticed was that there was no kettle in the room.Most hotels have it if not in the room then upon request. Unfortunately for us, the Meridien did not get the memo. They did not have a single kettle in the whole hotel. We had to ask them to send us a flask of hot water whenever we needed it. I guess it is still a step above the UNA Bologna who actually charges you for it… But given the price difference….. You would expect more from the Meridien.
We then noticed that there were no slippers. So we called again to ask for some. Yes,my hey do have slippers and will send them right up. Except when they arrived, they only gave us one pair and there were two of us. So we called again …. Turns out the whole hotel only had one pair of slippers left…..
It was only after all this that I noticed the efforts at mod decor, from the wallpapers to the photos on the wall. The bed frame was a bit of a hit or miss (mostly miss In my opinion), but at least they tried.
A couple of days later, I was once again surprised by the hotel to find that they don’t have any cotton pads either.
TIP: Bring your own of everything!!!
The bathroom: It is clean enough. The wall paper makes it feel a bit modern. But the toilet, like the rest of the hotel’s hardware, is most definitely old. The flush was super weak. The shower while not amazing was decent. I didn’t bother to try the products.
Service: I didn’t have much contact with the staff, but overall they were nice and polite enough. It’s not their fault the hotel is so lacking.
One small policy matter that took me by surprise was that they actually CHARGE you to recieve parcels; by weight too!! Are you serious???
- Complimentary valet
- Spacious rooms
- Everyone had a balcony
- Made an effort to renovate and modernize
- Still probably one of the more affordable “nice” hotels in the area
- Outdated hardware
- Noisy and old style in-room air conditioning
- No in-room dining at night
- Ran out of slippers
- No kettle
- Weak and erratic wifi
- Charge for recieving parcels
Conclusion: So would I recommend this to a friend? Only if they are on a budget. It’s not perfect, but we did manage to comfortably stay 4 nights here. Just don’t expect too much. Otherwise if they are looking for somewhere nicer, I would recommend Shutters on the Beach or the Fairmont. Shutters on the Beach because we went to eat there, and it looked very cool and is right on the beach (like an expensive beach house). The Fairmont because it is super convenient location wise, and is actually walking distance from the center of Santa Monica.