Terry and I just spent three nights in Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, CA, and I highly recommend the place. It's three blocks from the beach, but since it's the only hotel in the area that's fine. It's a short walk. It's part of small complex converted from a pottery factory that includes several restaurants and shops. A Vons grocery store is just down the block, and it seems like about 100 bars and restaurants are within walking distance. It's a great location.

The lobby includes a long bar and also plenty of lounge seating with table service. There's an outdoor patio with ten to twenty small metal cafe tables. We ate breakfast there on Sunday morning, but weren't impressed with either the food or the service. It was in stark contrast to the rest of our stay, since the hotel service in general was very good.

We took advantage of an internet deal and chose one of the rooms above the outdoor patio at a substantial discount since it's loud on Friday and Saturday nights. It was indeed loud outside, but only from 9pm through midnight (they closed the bar at 11:45pm). It didn't bother us, but we weren't trying to watch a movie or go to bed early or anything, plus we knew about it ahead of time. It wasn't loud at all on Sunday night, but they do keep the patio lights on which shine into the room through the balcony door. Not a big deal, the heavy curtains can block out the light.

Our room was one of the smaller ones, and our "balcony" was only large enough to step out onto (too narrow for a chair) but I actually liked overlooking the courtyard. A jazz band was playing out there Sunday afternoon and we had a very comfortable vantage point from our room. The size of the room was fine, it couldn't be called spacious, but it didn't feel cramped, and it was very stylish.

There was a jacuzzi tub in the middle of the room, which could be partitioned off by sliding doors. A "chroma" light above the tub could be set to cycle through all the colors of the rainbow, so if you had the sliding doors closed (they were wood with translucent panels) you basically had a big "box" in the middle of the room that changed colors.

Another crazy little feature was a "cyclone" flame in one corner. Imagine a glass cylinder about three feet tall with a gas fireplace flame gizmo in the bottom. But instead of a flame dancing over fake logs, it shoots straight up like a candle flame. Except it's not really like a candle flame since it's thinner and taller, and the flames, well, rotate like a cyclone. I've never seen anything like it. I took a photo, when I get home I'll post it. But I don't think a photo can really do it justice. It's like something I'd expect to see at Disney's Epcot Center, not a hotel room.

The tub was spotless, so I did take advantage and had a bath. There were a lot of jets, it was a nice way to relax, doubly nice since it was right in the room, usually you have to go out near the pool or to the hotel spa to use a jacuzzi. Plus that overhead chroma light made it appear that the water was constantly changing color so that was a fun novelty. There was a stand-up shower in the corner; the shower head was normal, but the floor was made of what looked like smooth river stones set in concrete. I say "what looked like" stones since they're all shades of blue and I've never seen blue river stones although I guess they could exist. Regardless, I wouldn't exactly call standing on them comfortable, but I liked it a lot better than those hotels with marble floors in the shower since those things can be dangerously slippery when wet. I felt very safe standing on the stones.