ICONIC: The Downtown plan aims to cap heights to maintain the clock tower's prominence. (File photo)


Santa Monica residents are spoiled with an impressive collection of culinary and lounge options to choose from that are perfect for kicking off a night on the town or enjoying a quiet meal with friends. And while some residents may think that Santa Monica’s world-class hotel amenities cater only to tourists, those that are truly in-the-know realize that Santa Monica hotels are home to some of the most affordable happy hours in town, oftentimes also offering the best views, people watching and ambience around.

“At Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, we love our locals,” says General Manager Matthew Lehman. “That’s why we’ve created initiatives that appeal to our neighbors just as much as they do to our overnight guests. For instance, FIG Restaurant’s FIG at Five was created specifically with locals in mind.”

The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows’ FIG at Five is regarded by many as the best happy hour on the Westside. Rather than offering a special happy hour menu, the restaurant offers half off most menu items, including cocktails, from 5 to 6 p.m. Options include the FIG mojito, Moscow Mule, steamed Manila clams with vadouvan potato puree, and a wood-fired pizza.

Another local favorite is Coast at Shutters on the Beach. One of the city’s most glamorous hotels, Shutters is, as its name implies, perched just a few feet from the sand. Coast offers a romantic, luxurious yet easygoing atmosphere where you can breathe in the sea air and enjoy ocean breezes as you gaze out at the sand, the palm trees and the crashing waves of the Pacific, cocktail in hand.

Coast offers happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., every day except Saturdays. Specialty cocktails are $9, and include a berry mojito made with seasonal berries, the Tesla margarita enhanced with elderflower, a pomegranate and pineapple martini and a Moscow mule made with Tito’s vodka. A glass of red, white or sparkling wine is $8, while the draft beer of the day is $6.

Happy hour appetizer choices include shishito peppers with lime salt for $4, oysters of the day, fish tacos, fried calamari and meatball sliders.

The Viceroy is one of Santa Monica’s chicest hotels, due in no small part to the fanciful yet sophisticated decor designed by Kelly Wearstler. At the Viceroy, you can enjoy happy hour poolside in the verdant, tree-lined garden, or inside at Cast Lounge. Happy hour — or “rush hour” as it’s called here — is available daily, from 5 to 7 p.m. Cocktails are just $7, while bites range from $5 to $10. Cocktail offerings include the bar’s signature drink, the Ocean Ave. Heat (tequila, triple sec and house-made spicy syrup), along with classics like sangria, margaritas, lemon drops, mimosas and cosmopolitans. You can also enjoy wines by the glass for $6, or your choice of four beers, including Peroni and Amstel Light, for $5. Bites include cured lamb “bacon” wraps, fennel sausage and pepperoni flatbread, Margherita flatbread, or spiced nuts and olives.

To learn about happy hours at more Santa Monica bars and restaurants, visit http://www.santamonica.com/happyhour