Oceana, Santa Monica
Lime green, eggshell blue, and canary yellow compose the punchy palette at this retro-beach-style boutique hotel. Books and chess/backgammon tables, various plants, and one-off pillows, knickknacks, and artwork in the 70 rooms and suites -- arranged around a heart-shaped courtyard pool -- contribute to a homey and approachable kind of luxury. So does the relaxed but attentive service, and fun extras like poolside iPads and spiked milkshakes. Reservations are never required at the guests-only restaurant, which, like the rest of Oceana, is refreshingly un-"sceney."