AOL PICK from our Editors
The best Los Angeles hotels are quite expensive, but they deliver in every way from style to service to history. The number of luxury hotels is staggering, and if you’re splurging, it’s hard to decide on which to choose. But there are also good hotels in the moderate range. It can be difficult to find budget spots that aren’t part of the big chains (which, naturally, abound) but it is possible. The city is so big that whatever you do, you’re likely to spend a little time driving around but you might want to pick a hotel for where you plan on spending a lot of time. Party-types may want to consider Hollywood, beach types might feel more at home in Santa Monica, and business travelers may be better off downtown. There are varying price levels in all neighborhoods but beware of some of the cheaper hotels, which can be magnets for some of L.A.’s seedy characters.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood/Beverly Hills Price Range: Expensive
Over the years Philippe Starck has been known more for the striking and whimsical public areas he designs for hotels, but it’s the rooms that are most striking in this hotel, with interesting features like sliding walls in the bathrooms and dramatic stage lighting. The hotel restaurant is the red-hot Bazaar from Spanish chef Jose Andres and, like any bazaar, it has different-themed areas, though all serve tapas. The SLS is conveniently located between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, so while it’s too far to walk, it’s close to those neighborhoods’ shopping and restaurants.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood Price Range: Expensive
“The Chateau” opened in 1929, a fantasy Norman-castle-cum-Mediterranean apartment building that became a hotel where Hollywood’s greats stayed, sometimes for years. In the 1970s it entered a long decline yet, yet still managed to attract hipster and rock legends (Led Zeppelin, for example), who appreciated the hotel’s architecture, history and its hide-away qualities. Today it’s been transformed by hotelier Andre Balazs, so it’s once again a glamorous spot, discreet and protective when it comes to its internationally adored clientele.
The Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Price Range: Expensive
There is no more iconic hotel in Los Angeles than the Beverly Hills Hotel. The pink Spanish colonial palace opened in 1912 when Beverly Hills was still largely bean fields. It has always hosted the crème de la crème of Hollywood, from Rudolph Valentino to Marilyn Monroe. Howard Hughes lived in the discreet bungalows behind the main building, as did Marlene Dietrich, and Liz Taylor spent six of her eight honeymoons in the bungalows. The Rat Pack drank at the Polo Lounge, and the cabanas around the pool have seen hundreds of power deals. These days the hotel belongs to the Sultan of Brunei and rooms are traditional and soothing, with chintz couches, four-poster beds and every amenity. Aside from the hotel’s beauty, the service is so good that it alone warrants a stay.
John Hildebrand, Malibu Beach Inn
Neighborhood: Malibu Price Range: Expensive
If you’ve dreamed of living the glam life in Malibu, this 47-room boutique inn owned by David Geffen is the perfect opportunity to live the fantasy for a few days. Right on Carbon Beach—there are no boardwalks in Malibu—the hotel has modern rooms in shades of sand and rich brown, some with fireplaces, and all with interesting amenities like a choice of seven wines in the mini-bar. It’s all about the ocean here, and there are no bad seats in the restaurant.
Shutters on the Beach
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
Price Range: Expensive
“Shutters” gets its name from the New England cottage-style architecture that includes gleaming white shutters. It’s popular with visiting celebrities, but comfortable for families. Rooms have wood floors, glossy white wood built-ins and high, plush two-poster beds. The only downside is that the pool area is often taken over by weddings late in the afternoon and from some of the ocean-view rooms the ocean is beyond a homely roof spiked with air vents. If you prefer Mediterranean-style architecture, the next-door sister hotel, Casa del Mar, is another great option.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Neighborhood: Hollywood Price Range: Moderate
The first Academy Awards were held in 1929 at this venerable Mediterranean-style hotel across the street from Grauman’s Chinese and the Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are now held. The hotel has a terrific structure and it has been transformed by Thompson Hotels. Entry-level rooms are small but stylish, with chocolate walls, modern décor and thoughtful amenities like C.O. Bigelow toiletries and Dean and Deluca gourmet snacks. We love the night-time cocktails by the pool, which, in a city known for its private parties, feel very L.A. The lobby has been restored to its former glamour, when the likes of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stayed.
Neighborhood: Malibu Price Range: Moderate
This former motel is as true a find today as it was when it first opened in 1949. The rooms are admittedly ho-hum and the continental breakfast is bare bones, but it’s extremely rare to find such a moderately priced inn right on the beach. Besides, the bougainvillea-draped courtyard is beautiful and the Malibu Pier is just down the sand. Some rooms have fireplaces and some have kitchenettes. Reservations go quickly for holidays and summer, so book way ahead (we recommend reserving at least three months in advance). Lore has it that Lana Turner used to hide out here for weeks at a time.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood Price Range: Moderate
More affordable than the Chateau Marmont, but also an Andre Balazs property, this former motel is perhaps a little too self-consciously hip, but it’s in West Hollywood, right in the middle of everything. Rooms have blue Warhol flower-print curtains and carpeting. The lobby is famous for its nudge-nudge performance art piece: a fishbowl-like vitrine behind the front desk, often occupied by a bored-looking, nearly-nude young woman. There’s also a pool, two restaurants and a bar.
Venice Beach House
Neighborhood: Venice Beach Price Range: Moderate
This secluded-from-the-melee nine-room B&B is a block from the beach on the quiet end of Venice near Marina del Rey. The ivy-covered cottage was built in 1911, and the gardens are lovely. They charge extra for parking, and four of the rooms share bathrooms, but they’re attractively furnished in Victorian/Arts-and- Crafts-style. Four of the rooms share bathrooms which, charmingly enough, have claw-foot tubs. It’s only a short walk (5-10 minutes depending on your pace) to the craziness of the boardwalk, and a short drive (5 minutes) to the restaurants and shops of Abbott Kinney Blvd.
Neighborhood: Downtown Price Range: Budget
This historic hotel has a beautiful tiled Mediterranean lobby. Surprisingly, the rooms, each of which is unique, are furnished Moroccan style. We love the look, but it’s not for everyone—you’re not going to find any flat-screen TVs here, and not everyone thinks the couch should be pillows on the floor. If you like your hotel room to be stylishly eccentric—and you’re not looking to spend a lot on your accommodations—this is the spot for you. There’s a bougainvillea-surrounded pool out back, and the hotel is just steps from the L.A. Live complex.
Neighborhood: Santa Monica Price Range: Budget
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The Sea Shore Motel is another secret that locals hate to share. Located right on Santa Monica’s Main Street amid the shops and restaurants (and just walking distance from the beach and the entertainment-filled Santa Monica Pier), this place is a steal. The rooms are nothing to write home about—they’re kind of dowdy, but they’re clean, very comfortable, and the management is friendly. The best deals are the more attractive, beach-décor one-bedroom suites in their own building a few doors down—they have full kitchens with dishwashers, for tremendous savings on meals (rates for these units start at $175 per night). The Sea Shore gets booked, so make reservations considerably ahead of time (three months out at least).
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