Santa Monica, CA 90403
Parking: There’s valet here, but we recommend parking in one of Santa Monica’s cheap-ish parking structures nearby and walking
Monday-Friday, 4-7pm, $8 select wines by the glass, $5 Stella Artois & Amstel Light, $7 select appetizers
You got somebody you want to impress with a chi-chi happy hour? Maybe your boss, maybe your honey, perhaps a status-obsessed frienemy, or a starry-eyed visitor from the Midwest? Look no further... than the Penthouse at Huntley Hotel – the 18th floor penthouse with 360-degree panoramic views of the city and ocean. Their Monday-Friday, 4-7pm “Sunset Hour” comes at the perfect time to take in some of the most beautiful natural lighting I've seen — since the Garden Expo at the LA County Fair the day before :).
It was a beautiful, hot Monday when my dear visiting friend from Tucson, AP (Fun Fact: she won the “Price is Right” in 2003), & I took a little Happy Hour Tour around Santa Monica. Our first stop was the Huntley, where we were both immediately impressed (and I was a little scared) by the 18th floor express GLASS elevator with unparalleled ocean views. We were also immediately impressed (and AP was a little scared) by the bathroom stall with a huge non-shaded window so that you could view the 18th floors outside – and well, if a helicopter was that high, they could see you too :).Before we even sat down to order, we did a little exploring of the set-up – half-formal dining and half cozy, more sea-breezy intimate seating. Sunset Hour takes place at the latter, so we grabbed a cozy booth with vinyl white seats and reviewed our menu options.
I gotta be honest; the happy hour prices aren't the best I've seen: $8 select wines by the glass, $5 Stella Artois, and $7 select appetizers. The truth is that you're really paying for the experience of dining 19 stories above the riff-raff below. Just kidding, I love riff-raff. I just think the Penthouse could do a little better on their appetizer pricing, eg the $6 savings on the Market Fish Ceviche is a good deal, but only saving $1 on an order of French fries (ahem, Pomme Frites) and Goat Cheese Poppers – not so good.
AP & I each ordered the $8 Chardonnay (buttery like my mum would like!), and for food, she had the $7 Rock Shrimp with a Tabasco aioli while I went for the $7 Pommes Frites. Now, ding-dong JB is a vegetarian, and apparently a partially illiterate vegetarian. I saw cheddar cheese and hollandaise sauce listed under the Pommes Frites and was sold! Too bad I didn’t read the part about bacon… C’est la vie, I picked it off and shared with AP. Nevertheless, the fries were crispy and delish with that the cheddar-y hollandaise blend on top.
Back to the atmosphere – great natural lighting with windows all around and natural sky-lights placed throughout the penthouse. The music was cool and ambient and they even played PJ Harvey’s “Down by the Water,” which slightly made me feel like I was in heaven down by the Pacific Ocean. The waitresses & bartender were hotties in little black dresses and the other patrons (5-6 groups while we were there) looked nice without looking too nice, even AP got in wearing flip-flops.
If you get what you pay for — as the Royal Prestige Waterless Cookware saleslady kept repeating during her demo the Shopping Expo at the LA County Fair — then paying slightly higher happy hour prices at the Huntley’s Penthouse is par for the course, the experience is a lovely one that I most definitely recommend.
Now, go impress that someone special!
Rating: 5 martinis