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Updated: September 11, 2020
The Best Areas to Stay in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is an immense city of unique, well-defined neighborhoods (that all feel like good-sized cities themselves). And because the best things to do in Los Angeles are spread throughout the city and its suburbs, there isn’t just one best part of town to stay in. Los Angeles has neighborhoods for almost any interest, whether it is about a beach vacation, high-end shopping, celebrity sightings, art galleries, nightlife, or foodie travel.
Los Angeles County is a sprawling metropolis and includes many communities, villages, and neighborhoods. Hollywood, Downtown Los Angeles, and The Westside are all part of the city of Los Angeles. There are some neighborhoods on the Eastside of LA like Silverlake and Los Feliz that are also worth exploring. To the west, Venice Beach and Marina Del Rey are a must-see. West of the Cahuenga Pass and over the hill from Hollywood you’ll find Studio City and the beginning of “The Valley”. West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Burbank, and Pasadena are their own cities.
The list of what to do in Los Angeles is huge: from visiting one of the many film studios to taking a ‘map of the stars’ tour through Beverly Hills and Hollywood or lounging at one of the many beaches along the Pacific Ocean. These are just a few of the local highlights.
Downtown Los Angeles has a great art district, the famous Grand Central Market food court, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the majority of the theaters. Hollywood is where you’ll find Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood sign, Hollywood Blvd, and many of the nightclubs. A lot of beautiful homes, the LA Zoo, Griffith Observatory, and Griffith Park can be found in Los Feliz. Silverlake is a quirky neighborhood known as more of an artist’s enclave with more obscure nightclubs and bars.
South of Hollywood, you’ll find additional neighborhoods that include Larchmont Village, Wilshire District, and the Fairfax District. In these areas, you’ll find the Original Farmers Market, The Grove shopping center, and many streets filled with shops and restaurants, including Beverly Blvd, Fairfax Blvd, 3rd Street, and Melrose Blvd.
West of Downtown and Hollywood you’ll find the up-scale residential areas of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, and the beaches in Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu.
The section of Sunset Blvd before it turns into West Hollywood is called the Sunset Strip and is known for its nightlife. West Hollywood is also a top nightlife hotspot with an abundance of bars and music venues. Beverly Hills is where you’ll find the infamous Beverly Hills Hotel and high-end shopping on Rodeo Drive.
Los Angeles is a city that requires a car. It is better to Uber or rent a car as you won’t want to depend on public transportation in Los Angeles, especially if you want to visit many of the sites throughout the city.
The weather in Los Angeles is beautiful for the majority of the year. Average highs are in the mid-90sºF in the summer and low-70sºF in the winter, making it a great vacation destination any time of the year. Mid-September through mid-October is one of the best times to find spectacular weather and great prices on hotels as the summer crowds have left. Spring is the rainiest season in Los Angeles and the most unpredictable for weather, although it will rarely rain for more than a few hours on any given day.
The best hotels are not focused in one neighborhood and it’s easy to find great accommodations ranging from budget to luxury in most areas of Los Angeles.
One thing to note in Los Angeles: There are many sporting events, conventions, and conferences throughout the year, including star-studded galas like the Grammy’s and Academy Awards. Booking a hotel during events like these and throughout summer should be done about a year in advance. For slower seasons, try to reserve rooms at least 3 months in advance.
The Best Places to Stay in Los Angeles
- Best Luxury Hotels in Los Angeles
The Beverly Wilshire (A Four Seasons Hotel) • Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills • Hotel Bel-Air • Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills • Beverly Hills Hotel
- Best Beach Hotels in Los Angeles
Shutters on the Beach • Hotel Casa del Mar
- Best Boutique Hotels in Los Angeles
Hotel Shangri-La • Plaza La Reina • Sunset Marquis Hotel
- Best Cheap Hotels in Los Angeles
Venice Beach House • Freehand Los Angeles • BLVD Hotel & Suites
- Best Hostels in Los Angeles
HI Los Angeles Santa Monica Hostel • Orange Drive Hostel • Banana Bungalow Hollywood
Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles for…
- Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles to Stay for First Timers: Hollywood or Santa Monica
If it’s your first time visiting Los Angeles, the most important thing to know is that the city is very big and traffic is an issue. Choosing a hotel based on your main site-seeing goals makes a lot of sense in this city. If you want a lot of beach time, Santa Monica is a great choice. There is a great walking and biking path that connects to Venice Beach. In Santa Monica, you’ll find a wide stretch of beach and a pier with an amusement park and an arcade. It is also the end of Route 66 and you can see the iconic sign at the entrance to the pier. Just inland from the beach is Santa Monica Place, an open-air shopping center filled with restaurants and great boutique shops. Hollywood is also good for first-time visitors. If you want to visit Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood sign, and see the stars on Hollywood Blvd, this is a great location for a home base.
- Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Sightseeing: Hollywood
When it comes to sightseeing, Hollywood is a must. Here you’ll find the iconic Hollywood sign, studios such as Paramount Pictures, and the infamous Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame began in 1958 with an initial 1,588 honorees and is located on 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and 3 blocks of Vine Street. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre can be extremely busy on weekends. It is located on the Walk of Fame and is one of the busiest tourist spots in Los Angeles. It’s a common misconception that Hollywood is all glitz and glam, but in truth, it is a bit of a seedy area with lots of very interesting people.
- Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Nightlife: Hollywood and West Hollywood
You can find clubs and bars throughout all of Los Angeles but Hollywood and West Hollywood are the top nightlife hotspots with a wide array of bars and music venues. Most clubs don’t get going until at least 9pm and throughout the year you’ll find live music at several clubs, including some of the most well-known spots like the Roxy, Troubadour, Whisky a Go Go, and Viper Room (opened by Johnny Depp). If you are interested in a possible celebrity sighting, check out Chateau Marmont’s Bar Marmont or Avalon Hollywood.
- Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Food and Restaurants: Beverly Hills and throughout Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a foodie town and the best restaurants are scattered throughout the city. Beverly Hills and Santa Monica offer a nice variety of upscale and trendy spots where you can find every type of food and wonderful brunch spots. One of LA’s oldest food-centric destinations is Chinatown, located downtown near the city’s civic and cultural center, offering a wide array of eclectic options. Also located here is the famous Grand Central Market, a downtown landmark since 1917, where the food and cultures of LA merge. Los Angeles has the only official Thai Town in the US, located in East Hollywood. Nearby are the bakeries and kebabs of Little Armenia, between Los Feliz and Silverlake. In Hollywood you’ll find some old-school restaurants which are worth a visit, including Musso & Frank Grill and Miceli’s. The Fairfax area is where you’ll find one of the best delis in the city, Canters, as well as the Original Farmers Market dating back to 1934 and offering over 100 gourmet grocery and food kiosks. For upscale dining, there are currently 26 Michelin-starred restaurants in Los Angeles. Beyond these award-winning restaurants, head to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica for a wide range of upscale dining. A few not-to-miss restaurants are Nate ‘n Al, Maude, and Spago in Beverly Hills. For brunch, head to The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. In Santa Monica, check out Osteria Bigoli and Forma. Fia is your top choice for brunch near the beach.
- Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Families: Santa Monica
Just north of the wackiness of Venice Beach is the wonderfully family-friendly Santa Monica. This beach town has some great resort hotels and, of course, the uber-fun Santa Monica Pier. The pier has been the backdrop for many movies and TV shows and has restaurants, street artists, and the Pacific Park amusement park which is packed with rides, games, food, and all kinds of family fun. At the end of the Santa Monica Pier is a sign that marks the end of the legendary American Route 66 highway. And beyond the pier is a wide stretch of beautiful sandy beach and a great walking and biking path.
- Most Romantic Neighborhoods in Los Angeles: Malibu and Beverly Hills
Some of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in the world can be found in Los Angeles and can set the stage for a truly romantic vacation. Los Angeles offers a variety of romantic things to do throughout the city, including a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, a visit to the Griffith Observatory at night to stargaze, taking in a sunset from the cliffs in Malibu, and brunch at the Polo Club. If you want a luxury boutique hotel experience, Shutters on the Beach or Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica are ideal for strolling on the beach at sunset and enjoying candlelit waterfront dinners. In Hollywood, it must be the quintessentially glamorous Chateau Marmont, an actual castle. In downtown, the Millennium Biltmore offers old-school charm with it’s carved friezes, gigantic chandeliers, and afternoon tea service, and is one of the oldest hotels in Los Angeles. There is also the fairytale experience of Hotel Bel Air or the very romantic beachside paradise of the Malibu Beach Inn, which sits on a section of the coast named Billionaire’s Beach.
- Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles for a Local Vibe: Los Feliz, Silverlake, and Larchmont Village
These neighborhoods offer a great opportunity to meet locals and get a much different viewpoint of Los Angeles. Larchmont is a neighborhood just below Melrose Blvd and near Hancock Park that has a quaint old-town shopping street and beautiful historic homes. Los Feliz is a neighborhood with plenty of old-school watering holes, hip shops, and cafés. It is also home to 2 Frank Lloyd Wright homes. The neighborhood borders Griffith Park where you can find great hiking trails, the Greek Theatre, and the Griffith Observatory. Just east of Los Feliz is the neighborhood of Silverlake. It’s an artsy area drawing a hipster crowd, with its several funky shops, street art, artisanal coffee shops, creative eateries, and indie music venues.
- Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Walking: Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beach Cities
You might have heard that nobody walks in LA but this isn’t entirely true. Head to Venice or Santa Monica and you can jump on the 22-mile paved bicycle and walking path that runs along the Pacific coastline, from Will Rogers State Beach (north of Santa Monica) in the Pacific Palisades to Torrance County Beach (as you head south). West Hollywood is tied with Santa Monica as one of the most walkable cities in Southern California. West Hollywood is only 1.9 square miles, so all of the city’s best attractions are in close proximity. Hollywood and it’s top sites are also best explored on foot.
- Safest Areas of Los Angeles
Los Angeles’ safest neighborhoods tend to be the most affluent ones of Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and West Los Angeles. Most touristy areas are safe, especially during the day, but standard precautions apply at night. It’s also worth noting that there are sections in Hollywood and the beach cities, especially Venice Beach, that can bring some interesting characters.
- Unsafe Areas of Los Angeles
Regarding safety, LA has extremes with uber-rich and safe areas as well as some seedy and unsafe areas. While most of the touristy neighborhoods such as Hollywood, Beverly Hills, or Santa Monica are safe, LA has some dangerous areas downtown (Skid Row) and nearby (South Central). Like with any big city, be careful, especially at night, and don’t wander alone.
The 7 Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles for Tourists
Hollywood is a great place to stay for first-time visitors to Los Angeles – and especially good if you don’t plan on renting a car as it’s a hub for public transportation. If you are looking for the quintessential Hollywood experience, you can visit many of the top sites and landmarks on foot such as the Chinese Theatre and the star-studded Walk of Fame. Nearby are Paramount Pictures, the Hollywood Bowl, and Dolby Theatre (home of the Oscars). The Hollywood Walk of Fame alone comprises more than 2,500 stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and 3 blocks of Vine Street. The three hotels listed below are all walking distance to the main Hollywood sights.
Best Hotels: Kimpton Everly Hotel • The Hollywood Roosevelt Best Moderate Hotel: BLVD Hotel & Suites
West Hollywood is considered one of the most walkable cities in Southern California. The 1.9 square miles includes restaurants and shops and is one of the top neighborhoods for nightlife in LA. Santa Monica Boulevard is home to a number of gay bars, dance clubs, and shops. The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives is the largest active LGBTQ organization in the US, housing the biggest collection of books, photographs, artworks, and personal papers of its kind in the world.
Best Hotels: Chateau Marmont • Mondrian Los Angeles • Sunset Marquis Hotel Best Cheap/Moderate Hotel: Ramada Plaza by Wyndham West Hollywood Hotel & Suites Best Hostel: Banana Bungalow – West Hollywood Hostel
Mostly known for its opulence, the upscale shopping street of Rodeo Drive, and its famous 90210 zip code, Beverly Hills is synonymous with luxury, fame, and wealth. It may surprise you that it is a small city of just 5.7 square miles. Top things to do are to shop, dine, and take a trolley tour of the mansions, celebrity homes, and luxury hotels where you’ll also hear fun stories about the rich and famous. Not to miss restaurants include Spago, Maude, Tempura Endo, and the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Best Hotels: Beverly Hills Hotel • The Beverly Wilshire (A Four Seasons Hotel) • Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills Best Cheap/Moderate Hotel: Maison 140 Beverly Hills
Downtown Los Angeles includes Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and the Arts District. You’ll find art museums, buzz-worthy restaurants, and hip bars. More importantly, it’s in downtown where you can visit El Pueblo de Los Angeles (also known as Olvera Street), the city’s 1781 birthplace. Many of the music and theater houses are downtown, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and in the historic Broadway Theatre District, there are 12 movie theaters that were built between 1910 and 1931. Also worth visiting are the Arts District for a Graffiti and Mural Tour and a few upscale restaurants like Otium and 71Above. If you are craving Mexican food, Tacos 1986 is a must. Some of the oldest and most popular restaurants in the city are located downtown, including Philippe the Original, Pacific Dining Car, and The Original Pantry Cafe.
Best Hotels: The Ritz-Carlton • The NoMad Hotel • JW Marriott L.A. LIVE • Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels: Freehand Los Angeles • Arts District Co Living Space
5. Venice Beach
Venice is the most famous eccentric neighborhood in Los Angeles. The 2.5-mile Venice Beach Boardwalk is best experienced by walking and enjoying the oddball people and shops complete with tattoo parlors, cannabis shops, street vendors, and lots of street performers. Skate plaza and Venice Muscle Beach are two of the most famous spots here. The boardwalk is the second most-visited place in Southern California. Heading inland a few streets, Abbot Kinney is a mile-long stretch of shops that includes great second-hand stores, restaurants, coffee shops, antique stores, and galleries. While hotels can be expensive in Venice Beach, you’ll need to head to nearby Marina Del Rey for a 4 or 5-Star hotel experience.
Best Hotels: The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey • Su Casa At Venice Beach (3-Star) • Inn at Venice Beach (3-Star) • Venice Beach House (3-Star) Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels: The Ellison Suites • AIR Venice Best Hostels: Samesun Venice Beach • PodShare Venice Beach
6. Santa Monica
In this beach city, you’ll find excellent shopping, dining, and many family-friendly attractions like the amusement park on the pier and the beach itself. Next to the pier is Santa Monica’s version of Muscle Beach, an outdoor gym established in the 1930s. Biking, skating, and surfing are all top things to try when visiting. Santa Monica is a fairly big city and encompases more than just the beach. Just inland from the beach is Santa Monica Place, an open-air shopping center filled with restaurants and great boutique shops. Head a bit further inland, just about 3 miles, to Montana Avenue, and from 7th to the 17th Streets there are more than 150 stores, boutiques, and restaurants.
Best Hotels: Shutters on the Beach • Hotel Casa del Mar • Oceana • Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels: Cal Mar Hotel Suites • Hotel Carmel Best Hostel: HI Los Angeles Santa Monica Hostel
Malibu is located west of Los Angeles and north of Santa Monica. It’s primarily known for Zuma Beach and Malibu Lagoon State Beach (Surfrider Beach to locals) and, of course, it’s home to many celebrities. The 1905 Malibu Pier is one of the most iconic landmarks that the city has to offer. There are some good hiking trails and waterfalls if you head into the hills. Two of the most popular are Solstice Canyon and Escondido Falls. While in Malibu, you can visit the Spanish Revival–style Adamson House and the Malibu Lagoon Museum. There are plenty of great restaurants in Malibu and many offer gorgeous views of the Pacfic Ocean. A few to check out are Mastro’s Ocean Club, Duke’s, and Mr. Chow. Malibu Farm Restaurant is a top choice for breakfast and brunch. There aren’t an abundance of hotels in Malibu and even the 2 and 3-star hotels tend to be quite expensive because of the location.
Best Hotels: Malibu Beach Inn • Nobu Ryokan Malibu Best Cheap/Moderate Hotel: The M Malibu
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