Belinda Henley checks into the Viceroy, Santa Monica.

Getting there:

The hotel is 30 minutes from LAX, closer to 45 in rush hour.

Check in experience: We arrived around midday and there was no queue to check in. I was offered a glass of champagne which was gratefully received after a turbulent 12-hour flight from Auckland. My room wasn't ready but they offered to store my luggage so I could sit by the pool or dine in the restaurant while I waited.


Location: In my view the best in Santa Monica, right across the road from the beach and just a couple of blocks from the shopping mecca of Third Street Promenade. It would be easy to stay at the Viceroy and never get in a vehicle of any kind, almost everything is walking or biking distance.

Room: We were on the fifth floor and had a view across the palm trees to Santa Monica beach. We were lucky enough to enjoy the most spectacular sunsets from our room. The furnishings and interiors are modern, classy and luxurious with a colour palette of white, black and pale green.

The bed: Large and high, incredibly comfy mattress and pillows. No complaints.

Toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion all provided and they smelt divine. The highlight was the "detox" rosemary and white tea body balm. There was the option to purchase your own set to take home, and I was tempted.

Food and drink: Well-stocked mini bar and an expansive room-service menu. If you want to venture out of your room, but not too far, meals are served poolside or at the restaurant, Cast. In the evening the fires are lit around the pools and there is ample couch or cabana seating. We particularly enjoyed the surf and turf (steak and jumbo shrimp) and a delicious ahi tuna ceviche. The hotel offers free coffee, tea and fruit in the mornings.

Bathroom: Very spacious. Marble tops and tiles. Plenty of room to spread out and great pressure in the shower. I really appreciated the decent, high-powered hairdryer, much better than bringing your own from New Zealand and battling with the low voltage.

Noise: No noise at all apart from the air conditioning, which was essential, even in the Californian winter. The room had a double set of sliding doors that could open to let air in but when closed kept the street noise out.

Exercise facilities: A great gym with every free weight and machine you could want. The best part was it overlooked the pool with lots of natural light and windows that actually opened!