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"Patio furniture with navy cushions piped in white, sea breezes, and a relaxed staff make the 21-room Inn at Playa del Rey feel like a friend's beach house. Muffins, corn bread, and feta soufflés are served at breakfast; wine and cheese in the evening. The best rooms have fireplaces and acres of space and look onto a nature reserve that is home to snowy egrets and brown herons (pack binoculars). Strengths: Bright, comfy common rooms; big bathrooms; spa tubs; free bikes; walking distance to restaurants and beach; ten minutes to LAX. Weaknesses: VCRs instead of DVDs; tiny TVs in some rooms. Room to avoid: Number 208 gets traffic noise (310-574-1920; innatplayadelrey.com; doubles,
$165–$325). –Margot Dougherty"