Owner: Proper Hospitality
Developer & Primary Contractor: The KOR Group
Hotel operator: Proper Hotels
Architecture: Howard Laks Architects
Interior design: Kelly Wearstler
Furnishings: Kelly Wearstlerís own work, one-off vintage pieces
Artwork: Tanya AguiÒiga, Ben Medansky, Morgan Peck
Photo credits: The Ingalls, Design HotelsTM
Located on Los Angeles’s western edge, Santa Monica is a beachside community that prides itself on its uniquely creative spirit and history. The Proper Hotel Santa Monica reflects both these traditions. At the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and 7th Street stands a 1928 landmark structure designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by architect Arthur E. Harvey. Onda, the shared culinary project of celebrated chefs Jessica Koslow of Los Angeles’s Sqirl and Gabriela Cámara of Contramar in Mexico City, occupies the ground level behind the building’s ornate facade. The restaurant makes a nuanced statement about this cross-cultural collaborative project through its menu and design, with an intentionally sparse interior that is outfitted with striking contemporary art and furnishings, along with vintage selections. Down on 7th Street and a few steps away from the intersection is a striking glass and steel building. This new architectural gesture stands in stark contrast to its 1920s neighbor, and houses most of the Proper Hotel’s 271 rooms and suites, facilities, and amenities. Here, guests enter the buzzy luxury property designed by Howard Laks Architects with interiors by Kelly Wearstler that opened in summer 2019.
The lobby itself reads like a contemporary Who’s Who of L.A. designers and local artists, including Ben Medansky and Tanya Aguiñiga, juxtaposed with top-tier vintage picks in earthy tones, textures, and patterns. This take on California casual cool is classic Wearstler; extremely eclectic, a little bohemian, and very refined. (It also demonstrates the designer’s aesthetic evolution, and contrasts with the Hollywood Regency style interiors she designed in 2002 at the Viceroy Hotel located just over two kilometers away.)
With a neutral-leaning palette, materials such as terra cotta, rattan, leather, and rich woods become welcoming and vivid. Smaller areas and corners full of detail and visual intrigue are ideally configured for conversation.
The Proper Hotel Santa Monica debuted in phases, starting with the contemporary structure this past summer. Out of town guests and locals alike are welcome to experience the Proper’s public venues, which in addition to Onda, include the Palma lobby lounge and the rooftop swimming pool and Calabra bar and restaurant. This being Santa Monica, guests’ wellness needs are attended to at Surya, the 3,000 square foot spa that offers treatments using Ayurvedic traditions and methods. Approximately 24,000 square feet of meeting space is available, too.
Following the Santa Monica Proper Hotel and its San Francisco sister property, which was completed in 2017, the brand is continuing a targeted expansion. The Austin Proper Hotel and Residences opened in January with 244 rooms and suites, plus 99 for-sale residences, and on track for 2020 is the Downtown Los Angeles Proper Hotel, which occupies a reimagined historic structure on South Broadway with 148 guest rooms.