Oceana Beach Club Hotel in Santa Monica for a night. The rooms are big, you're right on Palisades Park, a few blocks from everything in downtown Santa Monica and easy beach access. Plus - and this is our favorite new discovery - Josiah Citrin, yes, the award-winning chef from Melisse, created the menu for the hotel's Tower 8 restaurant. And even though he's not there cooking, it's actually really good.
The restaurant is right off the pool in the middle of the courtyard, a smallish space with a few tables outside. It's the kind of place you'd overlook even staying at the hotel - not many people were dining over the 24-hour period we were there, but there's no reason to avoid it. The Citrin menu has Mediterranean flair, with a focus on ingredients they probably picked up at the farmer's market just around the corner. We snacked to taste a few things all at once - blue crab cake bites, which were full of crabby flavor and a delicious aioli on the side; an awesome chopped salad with almonds, quinoa, shrimp, garbanzos, plump chilled shrimp and beautifully fresh cherry tomatoes; and a surprising Cuban sandwich. It was all great, and much better than an an overpriced dinner we grabbed nearby the night before. Point is: land at the Oceana and you don't really have to leave - at least, not until the heat wave breaks.