If you’re looking for a moderate-priced motel near the beach, look to the 1950s-era motor inns of Santa Monica. One of these that manages to be cute and kitschy despite a desperate need for a remodel is the Bayside Hotel (2001 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, 310/396-6000, www.baysidehotel.com, $110–225). The hotel’s not right on the beach, but you can walk there in about two minutes.
Inside your room, you’ll find the 1950s, from the Pepto-pink tile in the bathroom to the odd arrangement of older furniture in the bedroom to the utterly retro kitchens in the suites. If you crave elegance, speedy check-in and check-out, or even spotless cleanliness, the Bayside isn’t for you. But if you’re seeking a fun stay in a place that looks like it ought to be in a Gidget movie, the Bayside’s just right for you.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition