Where to Stay in Los Angeles: Best Areas & Hotels
Sunny Los Angeles, City of Angels, is a constellation of many different neighborhoods, each with its own personality and style. If you're visiting Los Angeles, ideally you should stay as close as possible to your points of interest, as the city fans out over a large area, and traffic can be heavy at any time of day.
First-time visitors usually stay in hip and happening Hollywood, near the Walk of Fame and Universal Studios, or posh Beverly Hills, home to the designer shops of Rodeo Drive. Younger travelers love West Hollywood (WeHo) for its funky bohemian style and eclectic shops. Families flock to Anaheim for Disneyland fun, and beach lovers opt for stylish Santa Monica or Venice Beach for fabulous shopping, sun, sand, and sea.
More and more tourists are also using downtown Los Angeles as a sightseeing base, and the city now seems to be finding its soul. Hip new galleries, museums, and restaurants beckon between the high-rises, and huge entertainment venues, such as LA Live and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, lure waves of excited sports fans and concert-goers. Wherever you choose to stay in LA, it's easy to find a hotel to match your itinerary, budget, and style.
Where to Stay for Sightseeing
If this is your first trip to Los Angeles, and you want to soak up the sights without paying the big bucks of Beverly Hills, Hollywood is a great base - especially if you plan to use public transport. It's also only about seven miles from Griffith Park, California's largest state park, with fun tourist attractions like the Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Observatory, the planetarium, and hiking trails.
The Redbury Hollywood, an all-suite boutique hotel with a bohemian feel, puts you right by the Walk of Fame. It's also only a mile from the Hollywood Bowl and three miles from Universal Studios. Celebrities often dine at its chic restaurant, Cleo, and the suites come with European-style kitchens.
A few blocks away, and steeped in Hollywood history, The Hollywood Roosevelt conceals a lovely palm-studded courtyard and pool, while the mid-range Hollywood Celebrity Hotel is also within walking distance of the Walk of Fame as well as the Dolby Theatre and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
Beverly Hills is central to both Hollywood and the beach, making it a great base for multiple outings. It's also a little quieter at night if you have children in tow. A top mid-range choice here are is the swanky modern SIXTY Beverly Hills, with glittering views of the city at night from its rooftop deck. (For luxury Beverly Hills properties, see below.) If you want to soak up Santa Monica's seaside sights and open-air shopping malls the Shore Hotel is steps away from the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade.
Culture vultures coming to downtown LA for the restaurants, galleries, and museums love the luxury JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A LIVE. It lies within walking distance of fabulous restaurants; the Staples Center; Walt Disney Concert Hall; the Museum of Contemporary Art; and The Broad, LA's impressive new art museum. The nearby Sheraton Grand Los Angeles, fresh from a renovation, is another great mid-range choice.
Where to Stay for Luxury
For the best luxury hotels in Los Angeles, you can't beat Beverly Hills. Top hotels in the area include the classic Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel) of Pretty Woman fame, and the chic Montage Beverly Hills. Both are steps from all the designer stores along Rodeo Drive. A few blocks away and surrounded by lush gardens, The Peninsula Beverly Hills gives you the chance to live out your fantasies with unique experiences such as Red Carpet Glamour: A Hollywood-Style Photo Shoot.
Other standouts here include the Old Hollywood glamour of the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel (also known as the "Pink Palace") and the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, in a lush residential area about five minutes by car from Rodeo Drive. The hotel's private car will whisk you at will anywhere within a two-mile radius.
North of Beverly Hills, set amid 12 acres of peaceful, palm-studded gardens and swan-dappled lakes, the Hotel Bel Air feels a world away from the busy streets of LA, even though it's only minutes from many of the city's top attractions. You can relax at the spa, lounge by the pool, and feast on Wolfgang Puck's California cuisine.
If you're seeking a downtown cultural fix, the Omni Los Angeles at California Plaza, with an outdoor heated lap pool and luxurious spa treatments, is steps away from the Museum of Contemporary Art and a block from The Broad. Sports fans and concert groupies love the convenience of the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A LIVE. Both are part of the L.A. LIVE entertainment complex and across the street from the Staples Center.
Smack dab on the sand in Santa Monica, Shutters on the Beach pulls off casual elegance with ease, while its neighboring sister property Casa del Mar, with an oceanside pool, is a little more formal in style.
Where to Stay for the Best Value
Despite LA's reputation as a star magnet and style hub, you can still find some quality hotels with down-to-earth prices. A short hop from the Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater, Hollywood Orchid Suites is an older property right in the heart of the Hollywood action, yet it manages to retain a quiet and peaceful air. The immaculately-clean suites come with fully-equipped kitchens.
For families headed to Disneyland on a budget, the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground offers excellent value with a water park on-site. It's only a six-minute walk to the park gates, and kids love the water slides, splash pools, and fountains. Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance also has a water park and is only a 10-minute walk to the gates of Disneyland.
For easy beach access in Santa Monica without beachfront prices, The Georgian Hotel is a charming boutique property a short stroll from great restaurants and the Santa Monica Pier.
Where to Stay for Families
Most families visiting Los Angeles are on a mission to see Disneyland and the adjacent Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim. If this is your focus, it's better to stay as close to the theme parks as possible to maximize your time there and get the best value for money.
Guests of the three Disneyland Resort hotels score the added bonus of the Extra Magic Hour, which allows early admission to the parks on certain days, before they open to other visitors, but these hotels tend to have higher rates than properties not owned by Disney. The most upscale of the three Disney hotels is Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, with a private entrance to the California Adventure Park. From the Disneyland Hotel, right by the Downtown Disney district, you can catch a monorail directly into the park or walk to both park entrances, while the nearby Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel Anaheim sports a California seaside theme, with plenty of palm trees and beachy motifs.
To save some money, you can stay a little further away from the park and hop aboard a shuttle. The family suites with fully-equipped kitchens at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Anaheim Resort - Convention Center give parents and kids plenty of space, and breakfast is included in the rates. Families of up to six can fit in the large rooms with twin bunks at the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance, and kids love the Surfside Waterpark.
If you want to see a mix of attractions, and price is no object, the sumptuous Peninsula Beverly Hills welcomes families, with spacious suites; bespoke baby gear; and special experiences such as Red Carpet Kids, Princess for A Day, and the Young Pastry Chefs Academy.
More affordable and minutes away from all the top Hollywood attractions and Universal Studios, the great-value Magic Castle Hotel offers one- and two-bedroom apartments with full kitchens that are perfect for families. Rates include breakfast, snacks, movies, games, and laundry, and as a special touch, white-gloved waiters deliver free popsicles by the heated pool. Nearby, Hollywood Orchid Suites is another great-value family hotel with spacious suites. Both of these options are older in style but well maintained.
Families who are catching a concert or sports game enjoy the full kitchens and extra space of the Residence Inn Los Angeles L.A. LIVE, a short hop from the Staples Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and downtown museums.
Where to Stay near the Beach
If your main focus is to soak up some sun, sand, and sea, Santa Monica makes the best base. It's safe and easy to stroll around, and you can ride the solar-powered ferris wheel at Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier, bike or jog along The Strand, or shop 'til you drop at the open-air malls.
Right on the sand, Shutters on the Beach feels like a stylish family beach house, and next door, its sister hotel, Casa del Mar, is a grand old 1920s hotel with delicious sea views. Directly across the street from the beach, the boutique and eco-conscious Shore Hotel is a more affordable option with a pool, fitness center, and beautiful beach views. It's also a short stroll from Santa Monica Pier and the shops and boutiques of Third Street Promenade.
Venice Beach is another popular LA seaside location, with its famous Ocean Front Walk and Muscle Beach, where street performers strut their stuff. A short stroll from these top tourist attractions, the mid-range boutique Hotel Erwin serves fresh-baked cookies in the lobby, and Venice on the Beach is true to its name, with beautiful beach views and affordable rates.
Where to Stay for Shopping
Santa Monica offers one of the best all around shopping experiences in LA. Here you'll find Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian-only open-air mall, and the adjoining Santa Monica Place, with Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and more than 80 specialty stores. Both the luxury oceanfront Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows and the boutique Huntley Santa Monica Beach are a short stroll from Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place. Also within walking distance, The Georgian Hotel is a boutique hotel with good-value rates. Chic Montana Avenue, with more than 150 upscale boutiques and shops, is also only a few miles away from the beachside shopping hot spots.
Hip West Hollywood ("WeHo") is also a popular place to shop, with everything from vintage clothing and boutique designer stores to eco-chic home decor.
For fashionistas with fat wallets, the best place to shop and stay is Rodeo Drive, Baby! This famous strip in Beverly Hills is home to big-bucks designer stores like Versace, Cartier, and Dior. Hotels handy to this upscale area include the Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel), where Julia Roberts stayed in the movie Pretty Woman and went on her famous shopping trip, the chic Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills, and Montage Beverly Hills. For the ultimate shopping experience, sign up for the Catwalk to Closet academy program at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, which includes a personal consultation with a top Hollywood stylist and a tour of LA's poshest shops.
If you want to save money on your hotel and spend it on the shopping, the Hotel Beverly Terrace is a great mid-range choice within walking distance of all the WeHo shopping hot spots, including Melrose Avenue and the Pacific Design Center, and less than a mile from Rodeo Drive. The Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is also in a convenient location, opposite the Beverly Shopping Center.