Thursday, July 30, 2009

Old Hollywood meets the beach

On Monday, CC and I got to swim in the same pool as silent film star Marion Davies and presumably her companion, newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. Yep, it's the one you see there, surrounded by gorgeously smooth black and white marble tiles.

And for $1 each at that.

The Annenberg Community Beach House, aka the Santa Monica Beach House, sits right on the beach between the sand and the Pacific Coast Highway. Located on the former Marion Davies estate, the renovated complex includes a new beach house (where Davies' main house once stood), the pool, an adjacent play area and Davies' guest house, which is still standing and open for free tours daily.

Not only that, but visitors can take advantage of Dollar Splash Mondays, which is how CC and I got to dip our toes into Old Hollywood glam for only a couple of bucks. Of course, you might have to wait your turn. The pool quickly reaches capacity, and we had to wait an hour before we could get in.

It wasn't really a problem, as the pool boasts an adjacent play area with fountains and toys (right), in addition to a sandy playground right on the beach. And once we got inside and leaped into the warm bath water of the heated pool -- after outfitting CC in a rent-free life jacket -- we swam, spun in circles and joined all the other parents and their kids in the shallow end.

After our dip, we walked next door to the guest house, which is huge. The rooms are minimally furnished, but the light fixtures are original as well as the vivid bathroom tiles.

The site has existed in many incarnations, including as a hotel, but the complex opened officially as a beach house in April. The L.A. Times has the story here. Vanity Fair features pics in its August issue.

Tiny photos don't do the beach house justice, so I'm posting the larger ones here:

The Marion Davies Guest House sits next to the play area in the upper right corner.

CC makes a colorful splash in the Marion Davies Guest House bathroom.

Annenberg Community Beach House

415 Pacific Coast Highway
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Check site for hours, parking fees

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