Last weekend, we headed to the West Coast to bring a taste of carnival season to travelers from around the world. And, of course, for our own enjoyment! We stayed at the HI Santa Monica, a hostel located nearby all of the coolest restaurants, bars, shopping and the beach. The hostel is part of Hostelling International (HI) USA, a national nonprofit founded to empower travel and a deeper understanding of people and places.
As soon as we arrived on Friday and got settled in our room, we headed out to find something to eat. We found ourselves checking out popular local chain, Eggslut. A simple but unbelievably tasty concept, we tried a classic bacon, egg & cheese and a Fairfax with scrambled eggs, chives, cheese, caramelized onions and sriracha mayo. Both served in warm brioche buns. The sandwiches were affordable, super ‘grammable, and filling enough to count as a late breakfast and lunch.
Then, we strolled over to the vibrant Venice Beach to take in the sunshine, fresh air and people watch.
After relaxing with our toes in the sand for a bit, we headed to Abbott Kinney Blvd, stumbling into cute shops, and stopping for a cocktail. We mostly window shopped, but found some great deals at local boutique Ananda.
On Friday evening, we headed back to the hostel to host a Mardi Gras celebration for all of our friends at HI. We started with a demonstration on how to make a New Orleans Brandy Milk Punch. Everyone loved our recipe! Check it out here if you want to make one at home.
Then, we divided into two teams and decorated king cakes shipped all the way from Haydel’s in New Orleans. The event was so much fun! There was such a sense of community between all the guests at the hostel. Despite us being from all over the world – Japan, England, Australia, Sweden, Guatemala, and the U.S. – it felt like we were all already besties.
After king cake and cocktails with our new friends, we were hungry for something more. We headed to J.Beibs fave sushi spot, Sugar Fish, another trendy local chain with a location literally steps from the hostel. Ok, the two hour wait was a little excessive, but it’s L.A. so on a Friday night find anything under that would be nearly impossible. It was seriously worth every minute. This place is no nonsense, and so are their prices. The menu is divided into three portion sizes – the Trust Me, Trust Me Lite and The Nozawa Trust Me. You can fill up on the freshest sushi you have ever had in your life for under $30. * We are talking every bite = mouthgasm.*
HI Santa Monica had so much going on. From hiking trips to pub crawls, there were activities to stay entertained and get to know the other guests all weekend.
We headed out Saturday morning to explore the area a little more before attending a comedy show at the hostel that evening.
We had lunch at Gjusta, an artisanal neighborhood cafe, deli and bakery on Sunset Avenue in Venice, known for it’s unbelievable bread, smoked fish and meats, breakfast and delicious pastries. It was a hard choice, but the sandwiches are their lunchtime stand out so we went for an americano banh mi loaded with house made pate, and the smoked turkey au just – both served on freshly baked baguettes.
After lunch, we walked down to Rose Cafe for an afternoon drink on the sunny patio. We seriously loved this little area – so adorbs!
#BabesTip: Drinking in Santa Monica is not cheap, drinks can range from $13-17 – so look out for happy hours. We’ve also learned through our travels that when available, it’s always better to share a mixed drink carafe or a bottle of wine – you always get a better bang for your buck!
With a nice little buzz, we kept walking down Rose Avenue and stopped at Venice Ale House to watch the sun set over the beach. We ordered a shareable mimosa flight that came with ginger, watermelon, grapefruit and orange juices. The crowd and DJ made the casual beach vibe at this place so much fun.
After that, we were off to laugh the night away at the hostel’s weekly free comedy show in the onsite Rapp Saloon.
Then, we had a late dinner with plenty of margaritas at Tallula’s Restaurant.
The next morning after packing up and checking out of the hostel, we stopped by Flake in Venice for a quick and budget-friendly breakfast on our way to the airport.
As usual, Santa Monica made a perfect weekend trip. Staying at HI Santa Monica made it an even more special experience. It was unlike staying at your typical hotel. Everyone was so friendly, and we had such a good time getting to hang with cool people from all over the world. We are so excited to announce that Hostelling International USA is opening HI New Orleans in Fall 2018 on Canal Street! The new space will offer a wonderful place for travelers on a budget to stay right downtown and get the full Nola experience. We can’t wait to check it out!