These 14 Hotels and Restaurants in SoCal Give “Extra” a Whole New Meaning
Listen, we love to play the low-maintenance girlie from time to time, but more really is more when it comes to treating yourself to a lavish vacation or dinner at a trendy restaurant. While organic, muted tones are nice, loud and proud is fun too. We are feeling a little extra these days, so why not maximize our overall experiences and head to some of the most over-the-top spots in Southern California. Here is a list of 14 hotels and restaurants that are saying sayonara to simple and making way for the maximalist movement.
Another spot on our desert must-stay list is Parker Palm Springs. Parker is really the hotel that started it all with their eye-catching interior design (there’s literally a giant sign that says DRUGS in the lobby), lemon-themed bar, sprawling grass areas, hidden nooks and crannies, and multiple pools for dipping and sipping by. There’s something about this place that feels very “Queen’s Gambit.” We love the lounge across from Norma’s that has a host of swinging chairs and a central fireplace that makes for the ideal place to congregate and catch up over a cocktail from the Mini Bar. There’s a walk-in only restaurant called Counter Reformation and, of course, the ever-popular Mister Parker’s steakhouse.
Location: Palm Springs
Opened in 1958, this iconic inn has made kitschy cool with its over-the-top homage to one of music’s most beloved matriarchs, Madonna. This 110-room wonderland in San Luis Obispo will have you feeling like a Material Girl as you strike a pose and vogue against the various photo-friendly backdrops. There is live music and dancing daily, hiking, horseback riding and hot-pink athletic courts for tennis, pickleball or basketball. They have an on-site bakery serving up classic French and Danish delicacies, but they book up fast, so be sure to pre-order if you have a sweet tooth. The surrounding town is home to world-class wineries if you feel like venturing out for a little vino.
Location: San Luis Obispo
Do you want to be tickled pink? Look no further than The Trixie Motel in Palm Springs, which looks like a place your childhood Polly Pocket would live. This pink paradise offers seven custom-themed bedrooms, a heated pool and plenty of spots to sip, sunbathe and spill secrets. One of Palm Springs’ newer restaurants, Sandfish Sushi, is located right around the corner, and we highly recommend bellying up to the bar at Bootlegger Tiki for a beverage or two. This is the ideal accommodation for a bachelorette party or girls’ weekend. Everything is pink and white and Barbie all over. Just be sure to scope out our downtown Palm Springs dining guide before you go!
Location: Palm Springs12/13
Yeah, that Chateau Marmont. You know, the one all of the celebrities cause trouble at. You can practically feel the hotel’s salacious pastimes penetrating your soul as you saunter through the lobby. Oh, if those walls could speak. Established in 1929, this celebrity safe haven tucked away into a Hollywood hill has over 60 rooms in the form of suites, cottages and bungalows. This is a place of refuge for people who value privacy and is rich in history—as seen through the meticulously maintained interiors that pay homage to the hotel’s almost 100 years in business. The garden courtyard is really the central hub to see and be seen if you can score a coveted rattan lounger or bistro chair.
This ultra-swanky hotel in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood incorporates just about every pattern and print there is so you never run out of things to ogle and Instagram. The Lafayette is really an influencer’s dream with its endless backdrops and Slim Aarons-worthy pool setup. Be sure to check out The Gutter, a game room featuring a two-lane bowling alley, pool table, shuffleboard and, of course, classic cocktails to fuel the competition. They have multiple on-site eating options, from a 1940s diner to a vibey Oaxacan oasis serving up authentic, artisanal meals with a side of mezcal. Each room has its own personality, and we’re here for it.
Location: North Park
The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica is iconic for its Gatsby-esque curb appeal with black-and-white awnings, yellow umbrellas and a signature neon nameplate sign. It kind of looks like the Tower of Terror got “The Princess Diaries” treatment with a hint of “Grand Budapest Hotel.” It’s oozing Wes Anderson, and we love it. The property recently underwent a major facelift to really funk up the space while still maintaining its art deco roots. There’s a lot of fun little quirks like the in-room buttons that call for the rolling book cart—basically a library on wheels that guests can peruse during their stay. There’s also a speakeasy-style restaurant on the lower level of the hotel called the Georgian Room, which is perfect for sipping spritzes at sundown. Oh, you also get a complimentary glass of champagne upon check-in!
Location: Santa Monica
If Gaudi and Dr. Seuss collaborated on a vacation rental, the end result would be El Zapato—aptly named because it’s shaped like a shoe. This eccentric spot consists of three levels: the turquoise penthouse on the top level, the green cabana below and the two courtyard lobster studios on the ground floor. Feel free to take a virtual tour before you visit to get a feel for the funk. With over 63 5-star reviews on Airbnb, former guests call this rental whimsical, special and charming. Much of the architecture and design pays homage to the owner’s love of her home state of Maine. Go ahead—try and count how many lobsters you can spot. Located right off the Funk Zone in downtown Santa Barbara, this spot is within walking distance to some of our favorite locales like Dune Coffee Roasters and Oat Bakery. Check out this sample Santa Barbara itinerary to get some ideas for your trip!
Location: Santa Barbara
This is one of those restaurants where you will walk in and immediately catch a vibe. It’s quintessential Palm Springs with the pink and green accents and embodies a fresh take on the old-school racquet clubs of the ‘50s. Open for all meals, The Pink Cabana is serving up Mediterranean-inspired dishes for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, such as the Moroccan club sandwich and the classic mezze board. The decor will have you itching to get home to redecorate your entire house, and the view of the pool from The Pink Cabana might just convince you to stay for a swim. This place is the best, bar naan.
Location: Indian Wells
Seneca is mimicking a Soho House with its uber cool, private club vibes and Amalfi Coast mentality. This is yet another Instagram sensation giving big deck energy with plenty of fringe to boot. We’ll take a whipped ricotta on the double and one of those wood-fired eggplant apps STAT. I dip, you dip, we dip. Bring your sun hat and maybe a little SPF since you’ll be catching plenty of rays at this outdoor Roman trattoria. Even if you go for lunch, get the tiramisu to share—just do it!
Location: San Diego
This San Diego staple has carved its name into the hearts of its natives since it hit the scene in 2021. The working carousel rotates as you drink, so if you get the spins, you can blame it on the bar itself and not what you’re being served. The food is distinctly French, and the drinks are distinctly stiff. Anyone can enjoy this restaurant, but it’s especially apropos for a get together with the gals. Fetch yourself a Fleur de France cocktail and some finger foods like the baguette with butter, some French fries or the fromage du jour (cheese of the day) and get to gabbing. You’ll feel like you are in a life-size jewelry box or an extra in “The Greatest Showman.” It’s fantastical in all the best ways!
Location: San Diego12/10
Want to feel like you’re in a swanky Las Vegas lounge without having to cross state lines? Enter CIR. This Japanese-Mediterranean fusion restaurant in Fountain Valley has that classic casino dark bar bourgeoisie essence with red booths, a wrap-around bar and undeniably amazing Wagyu sliders. This is an excellent date-night destination, especially if you opt for some oysters to really set the tone.
Location: Fountain Valley
Thai tycoon Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang is taking California by storm with four Golden State locations and one up in Portland, Oregon, for good measure. Get the viral volcano cup o’ noodle to relive your college dorm room glory days, and make sure to get everything family style so you can sample all the good stuff. The Los Angeles location is as over-the-top as the food in terms of decor, along with the methods they use to deliver their drinks and food. A giant unicorn sits against a sea of florals below a “Hello gorgeous” neon sign, which makes for an eye-catching conversation starter. The Make a Wish cocktail looks like a prop straight from the set of Aladdin.
Location: Los Angeles
More is more at LA’s Kaviar restaurant. They specialize in cocktails, creative dishes and, of course, caviar. It’s two parts restaurant and one part night club; Kaviar has a Nobu-like menu served with a hefty side of music. Expect DJs, girls dressed to the nines and Vegas vibes. The restaurant itself is located in the Arts District in downtown LA and has an all-black interior, making it so ever-adventurous diners pop against their backdrop. Everything is extra here—think dishes garnished with gold dust and cocktails served with a side of sparklers. We are keeping up with Kaviar and loving it!
Location: Arts District DTLA
This place is a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. One of the more unique dining destinations on our list, Desert 5 Spot looks like it belongs off Route 66—except it’s a rooftop in Tinseltown. This Hollywood hideout is a honky tonk of a time and features some fun cocktails like the Walk the Line—a mezcal libation served in a glass boot. Now this modern cowboy joint is mainly a bar; the only thing they are serving up hot is their tunes, so be sure to grab a bite beforehand at Ka’Teen or around the corner at Mama Shelter. The house band goes on at 10, and if the doorman asks you if you are “on the guest list,” just say yes. If you come with a crew, consider getting the cactus cooler of margaritas for a buzz-worthy beverage and note that they teach weekly line dancing classes on Wednesdays.