As you grow up, there are certain cities and countries you come across more than others. But even those places don’t exist in pop culture and on our TVs like LA. It’s part of what makes traveling to Los Angeles so exciting, as it’s an opportunity to connect what we see in our minds with reality.
You’ll find that Los Angeles has everything you thought, from theme parks on piers and golden beaches to celebrities in Beverly Hills. But as the second biggest city in a country as populated as the United States, Los Angeles is far more than just Hollywood. It’s a city of diverse cultures that influence LA’s rich culinary and art scenes.
Choosing where to stay in Los Angeles can be tricky, but it is possible to see it all wherever you choose to base yourself. With that in mind, our guide to the best areas to stay in Los Angeles is designed to make your next trip to the City of Angels a lot easier.
Best Hotels in Los Angeles – Straight to the point
Got no time to waste and want to know where to stay in Los Angeles? These are the best hotels to suit every budget.
The 6 Best Areas to Stay in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a huge city, one with many neighborhoods. Its influence stretches from Anaheim all the way north to Santa Clarita. But you’ll only need to know a few in order to make the most of your travels to the City of Angels. Each has its own vibe and with the fame of LA, you’ll likely know most of them already.
The major areas include downtown, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Beverly Hills. Where you choose to stay will come down to your goals and budget. LA can be exciting as a tourist but also sun-soaked if you just want a classic beach vacation. Let’s get started.
1. Downtown Los Angeles
For pure convenience, it’s hard to beat Downtown Los Angeles. Those flying in for the weekend will have a brief journey from LAX before setting off to begin their itinerary. Sure, you may not have the white sand beaches of Santa Monica or the glamour of Rodeo Drive, but there are endless things to do. Not to mention access to public transport that will deliver you to all the best areas in Los Angeles. So you can forget about the hire car.
Along with convenience, downtown provides the most variety for travelers. It blurs the line between a more family-friendly destination and a place for night owls. During the day, you can wander around the bustling city admiring the historic heart of LA wherever you go. These include the old school buildings that have become chic eateries and affluent boutiques. Plus the range of museums that include the popular Grammy Museum, The Broad, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Public transport and bus tours can guide you from A to B, hitting up the best attractions in town. But the downtown area is very walkable, which is great news if you love to avoid inner-city traffic. Many of these places are within walking distance of each other, with parks, street performers, and plenty of food trucks strewn within. As you wander, you’ll see the diversity of Downtown LA. Watch as the city changes from the Fashion District to Little Tokyo to the Arts District and finally Chinatown.
This diversity flows into the local nightlife. You’ll find upscale restaurants and bars, music venues that are rough around the edges, and the Staples Center aka the Crypto.com Arena home of the iconic Los Angeles Lakers.
Best Hotels in Downtown Los Angeles
Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton
With a rooftop pool, hot tub, and panoramic views, the Ritz-Carlton is a luxury hotel with few rivals. Enjoy marble bathrooms and a deluxe bedroom while being within walking distance of downtown highlights.
Mid-Range: Hotel Indigo
Hotel Indigo makes it possible not to have a car in downtown LA. You’re close to public transport and within walking distance of theaters and live sport. The boutique hotel has a pool, fitness center, nightclub, on-site restaurant, and free breakfast options.
With just a brief walk to LA Live, Freehand is one of the top hostels in the city. You’ll have a rooftop pool and bar with sweeping downtown views along with an on-site restaurant, plus private room and dorm options.
VRBO: Downtown BnB
Situated in the heart of downtown, this bed and breakfast is a great option for those who want their own private kitchen. Guest will have also access to the outdoor swimming pool.
Things to do in Downtown LA
- Dine in Chinatown: This Downtown Food Tour will let you sample some grat food in Downtown LA.
- Catch a show at the Microsoft Theater
- Explore the Grand Central Market
Those wondering where to stay in Los Angeles for the first time should consider Hollywood. After all, it boasts many of the things that have made Los Angeles a world-famous city. When your mind thinks of LA, images of the iconic Hollywood sign, the stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the views from Griffith Park appear. Whether you’ve visited Los Angeles before or not, you’ve seen it all on your TV screen.
First-timers with a bucket list to check can’t go wrong here. A city’s downtown is often the most central location. But while Downtown LA has the best access to public transport, staying in Hollywood arguably puts you in a better position. From your chosen hotel, you can head slightly east into the city or the other direction, to West Hollywood and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. You could say Hollywood is the center of town.
There are some drawbacks to basing yourself in Hollywood. As such a popular tourist destination, it can often feel unauthentic and tourist traps abound. This is true for the Walk of Fame, which can get overrun at any hour of the day. However, Hollywood has some great budget and mid-range accommodation that belies its status as a tourist mecca. Downtown has the most nightclubs, but Hollywood and the funky West Hollywood are two of the best party spots in town. Add on some mouthwatering food trucks and too many famous sights to list, you can see how worthwhile braving the crowds can be.
Best Hotels in Los Angeles
Luxury: Kimpton Everly Hotel
Steps away from the Capitol Records Building, the Kimpton Everly is the best luxury hotel in Hollywood. Enjoy views of the iconic sign and downtown plus an onsite restaurant, bar, and sun-soaked pool.
Mid-Range: Hollywood Celebrity Hotel
Wake up at this hotel with a complimentary breakfast before strolling 0.2 miles to the Walk of Fame. Each room has a lounge area plus cable TV. Guests can also book a range of tours from the front desk.
Budget: The Steady
For budget accommodation that doesn’t feel cheap, stay at the Steady. With dorms and private rooms, this modern hostel comes with a full range of amenities and is ideally located within Hollywood.
VRBO: Modern and Central Home
Sleeping up to 10 guests, this townhouse is two blocks from Melrose Avenue and a 15-minute walk from Hollywood Boulevard. The VRBO has a spacious kitchen, Smart TV, and dining area, bringing to you all the comforts of home.
Things to do in Hollywood
- Take the kids to Los Angeles Zoo
- Hike up to the Griffith Observatory
- Check out Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
3. West Hollywood
Want a taste of Hollywood with an added splash of the real LA? Then West Hollywood is the place for you. Not far from the famous sights, West Hollywood is one of the best places to stay in Los Angeles. Plus, it has a few must-see attractions of its own.
In West Hollywood, you can take a short walk off the main drags and enjoy the area’s charming residential feel. You’ll be able to take a moment to breathe while feeling a world away from the things that have made LA what it is. That’s all before you reach West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, an unforgettable section along Sunset Boulevard. This 1.5-mile extravaganza connects Hollywood to Beverly Hills with rows of world-class nightclubs and the kind of comedy clubs where famous comedians simply show up unannounced. If you like your nights long and unpredictable, then staying close to the Sunset Strip will make your trip to LA memorable… or not so much.
During the day, travelers will have the chance to see why West Hollywood is the coolest part of Los Angeles. Along the trendy Melrose Avenue, you’ll discover an eclectic mix of boutique and vintage stores, third-wave coffee houses among eye-catching architecture. Los Angeles’s exceptional dining scene also makes an appearance here and you’ll have no shortage of casual and upscale restaurants to take your significant other. Plus, if they like getting up early, you can always bring them to the neighborhood’s beloved farmers market. From West Hollywood, you’ll be 20 minutes from Santa Monica and the nearby Venice Beach. North of town is Hollywood Hills, where to can work off the hangover in Runyon Canyon Park.
Best Hotels in West Hollywood
Luxury: Kimpton La Peer Hotel
On a street lined by palm trees, the elegant Kimpton La Peer Hotel is your splash of luxury in WeHo. Have an ensuite bathroom, turndown service, onsite restaurant bar, and swimming pool.
Mid-Range: The Charlie
One of the most unique boutique hotels in LA, the Charlie was once the home of Charlie Chaplin. Guests will enjoy luxurious suites, modern kitchens, and a patio complemented by an open living space.
Mid-Range: Best Western Plus Sunset Plaza
On the famous Sunset Boulevard, this hotel comes with a complimentary buffet, hotel pool, and fitness center. Each room has a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee facilities plus guests will be a short drive to major attractions.
Experience old-world charm in this gated guesthouse with a picturesque garden. It’s the perfect sanctuary after a day of exploration, with sun-soaked bedrooms, a patio, and a full kitchen.
Things to do in West Hollywood
- Visit Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- Shop all day at Sunset Plaza
- Hunt celebs at Helen Albert Farmers Market
4. Santa Monica
Wherever you are in Los Angeles, you can hear the whispers of the Pacific Ocean. Many come to the city to see the sights, indulge in some Hollywood glamour, and let their hair down at Universal Studios, but the sun and sand of Santa Monica Beach is a reason to visit all on its own. Alongside Venice Beach, Santa Monica showcases the natural allure of the West Coast city. Here, the sun refuses to disappear; the days begin early and balmy evenings by the water never seem to end.
Santa Monica can be an expensive place to stay in Los Angeles. Mostly for reasons that don’t surprise, such as its beachfront location with many hotels being just a few steps away from the water. But if it fits within your budget, Santa Monica is great for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. This is because, unlike other parts of Los Angeles, it can deliver on the promise of a relaxing beach vacation. The golden sands of Santa Monica Beach extend for four miles, with plenty of room to relax and enjoy the views. In the heart of the beach is the iconic Santa Monica Pier and its boisterous amusement park, Pacific Park.
Behind the beach, you’ll have access to the beautiful Ocean Front Walk, Palisades Park, and the original Muscle Beach, a famous outdoor fitness site established in the 1930s. You can walk along the path or rent a bike and ride all the way down to Torrance, passing Venice Beach, Marina Del Rey, and Manhattan Beach along the way. With access to the light railway and Big Blue Bus, you can make your way to other parts of Los Angeles. But from Santa Monica, you’ll be in the perfect position to explore the breathtaking Highway 1 north along the coast.
Best Hotels in Santa Monica
Luxury: Casa Del Mar
Not many luxury hotels in LA could top the views from Casa Del Mar. Each lucky guest can watch the sun fall from their room with floor-to-ceiling windows or simply take a few steps to the beach. There are also multiple onsite restaurants and a spa house.
In the heart of Santa Monica, you’ll be close to all the action at SureStay. Enjoy complimentary breakfast, BBQ facilities, and a spacious courtyard. Concerts at the beloved McCabes are also right across the street.
Budget: HI LA Santa Monica
3 minutes from the famed beach, the modern hostel comes with a variety of dorm options at a great value. Be within walking distance of the 3rd Street Promenade and have free Wi-Fi throughout the hostel.
VRBO: Paradise in Santa Monica
Have your own private guesthouse steps from spectacular views of the Pacific Palisades. The historic home is a short walk from local restaurants and shops and can sleep up to 5 guests.
Things to do in Santa Monica
- Visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
- Wander down Santa Monica Boulevard
- Explore the Santa Monica History Museum
- Stroll the famous Santa Monica Pier
5. Venice Beach
With the patented California sun tumbling down, white sand beaches, and endless palm trees, Venice Beach is Santa Monica without the price tag. In fact, budget travelers looking at where to stay in Los Angeles should have this waterfront town high on their list. Hip and interesting, Venice Beach mixes the personality of LA with a stronger bohemian vibe. Splicing the town and the wide-open beaches are boardwalks reminiscent of Miami, where bicycles, rollerbladers, and skaters float by with an aura of California cool. It feels young and fun, which may explain why Venice beach has a concentration of fantastic hotels allowing you to live the beach life on the cheap…by LA standards.
Those arriving by plane will be minutes away from their base in Venice Beach. If you wish to explore Santa Monica, you’ll have a brief 15-minute drive north while being around 40 minutes from the sprawling city center and Hollywood, depending on traffic. But if you’re seeking a beach holiday, there won’t be many reasons to leave Venice Beach. You can explore the Venice Canals which gave the city its name on a boat, before venturing down Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Main Street for eclectic shopping that will have you kitted out and dressing like a local in no time.
But a lot of your time will revolve around the glistening golden sands of the city’s famous beach. The 3-mile beach feels endless, partly because it continues until it morphs into Santa Monica Beach. Beyond sun tanning and diving into the ocean, you can cast a reel off the Venice Beach Fishing Pier, carve up the Venice Skate Park and walk the length of the 2-mile Venice Beach Boardwalk, enjoying the street performers and various personalities along the way.
Best Hotels in Venice Beach
Luxury: Hotel Erwin
With views of the ocean and steps from the boardwalk, Hotel Erwin serves up Venice Beach on a platter. Many of the top shelf rooms have seating areas and guests can rent bikes, dine onsite or chill on the rooftop lounge.
Mid-Range: Su Casa
A minute from the beach, Su Casa has an onsite restaurant that delivers right to your room. Your room comes with HBO and either a full kitchen or kitchenette, plus ocean views streaming through the window.
Bright and airy, the tropical decor of Samesun complements Venice Beach perfectly. The hostel comes with free boogie boards, plus bike rentals handy for exploring the boardwalk which passes in front of Samesun.
VRBO: Cozy Studio
Those seeking a budget Venice Beach option should consider this VRBO. Steps from the Pacific have a private bathroom, kitchen, Wi-Fi, and free parking with the ocean breeze floating through.
Things to do in Venice Beach
- Visit the Mosaic Tile House
- Gawk at the bodybuilders at the new Muscle Beach
- Peruse Small World Books
6. Beverly Hills
We’ve mentioned budget-friendly districts and tourist havens, so now it’s time for the opulent. If you want pure luxury, Beverly Hills is the best place to stay in Los Angeles. Travelers willing to fork out for some of the best hotels in the city will have the chance to roam the same streets as some of America’s most beloved celebrities.
Beverly Hills is a small part of LA, between West Hollywood and Santa Monica. But its small size belies its standing as one of the most elegant and rich neighborhoods not just in LA but in all the United States. The town is split by Santa Monica Boulevard. To the south, you’ll have all your top-shelf hotels and to the north are the hills themselves, where the rich and famous live behind towering hedges and jeweled gates. Wherever you stay, one of the most popular tourist activities is taking a bus through Beverly Hills to find where your favorite actor, singer, and personality lives.
When it comes to shopping, Beverly Hills doesn’t miss a beat. You’ll find all your high-end national and international brands within beautiful architecture and palm-line promenades with Rodeo Drive being the prime example. You can also expect great restaurants whenever you need a break. All of this, of course, comes at a cost. With budget accommodation limited, it may be best to stay elsewhere and explore Beverly Hills during the day.
Best Hotels in Beverly Hills
Luxury: Waldorf Astoria
The Waldorf Astoria features amazing views of the Hills and LA. But it’s the opulent terrace that makes it such a great hotel. Kick back in the outdoor lounges while enjoying a drink from the onsite bar.
Mid-Range: Elan Hotel
With rooms boasting docking stations, WiFi, and cable TVs, the Elan Hotel is a modern hotel at the perfect price. Additionally, guests won’t be far from the sights in Hollywood and the beloved Farmers Market.
Mid-Range: Hotel Sofitel
This hotel comes with an onsite French restaurant, luxury spa, outdoor pool to match the elegant rooms, and large bathrooms. Each room also comes with city views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
VRBO: 2-bedroom Apartment
In a central location within this area, guests at this VRBO can walk to Rodeo Drive along with many renowned local restaurants, bars, and live music. The apartment can sleep up to five, with a full kitchen, patio, and living area.
Things to do in Beverly Hills
- Shop ‘til you drop on Rodeo Drive
- Have a park day at Virginia Robertson Gardens
- Admire the Spadena House
BONUS: Malibu and Long Beach
Not technically in Los Angeles proper, Malibu and Long Beach are worth adding to the discussion. Malibu is under 20 miles from Santa Monica along Highway 1. This section of road is incredibly scenic, making every trip towards LA one for the books. The town is a mix of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, combining beachfront vibes and exceptional luxury. Malibu is also romantic. Its seaside cliffs are home to some of the best sunsets. During the day, you can wander along the quieter beaches to Malibu Pier or explore the Malibu Creek State Park.
25 miles south of LA, Long Beach is laden with great restaurants and a bunch of family-friendly activities. The beach itself is decent, but it’s the mix of price and activities that make Long Beach an attractive option. Among the fun things to see in town is the Queen Mary which has been in Long Beach since 1967. Travelers will also find the Aquarium of the Pacific, multiple art museums in the East Village Art District along with the beautiful Catalina Island. Importantly, Long Beach is a top spot for whale watching from November to March.
Where to Stay in Los Angeles for the First Time:
Whenever you visit a city for the first time, it can be hard to envision the size, the layout, and how long it takes to get from one side to the other. Los Angeles is a huge city, and unlike New York, it doesn’t have an exceptional public transport system to cut through the city’s often maddening traffic. With that said, Downtown LA provides the most amount of flexibility in terms of seeing other parts of Los Angeles. If you want to do nothing but chase city highlights for multiple days, then Hollywood is the place to go. Likewise, for the sun and ocean, Santa Monica is calling your name.
Best Areas to Stay Los Angeles in for Nightlife:
Those staying downtown will have no shortage of bars and nightclubs to choose from. The district has the most diversity in terms of crowd, so you’ll have a great variety of events to sift between.
But the heart of the city’s nightlife lies within Hollywood and West Hollywood. The former features some of the most famous bars in town from Boardner’s to the Frolic Room and Musso & Frank Grill. For music, check out the Hotel Cafe and you’ll find hilarious comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. West Hollywood, of course, boasts the Sunset Strip. Here, you’ll find famous music venues like the Viper Room and The Roxy. WeHo also has an LGBTQ+ hub along Santa Monica Boulevard.
Where to Stay in Los Angeles for Families:
Santa Monica tops the list of where to stay in Los Angeles. The beachfront town has plenty of great accommodation to suit most budgets while taking advantage of the natural splendor that exists along the coast.
There are parks for the young ones to run around, not to mention the Ocean Front Walk and only a short drive stands between the family and several larger state parks north of town. Most importantly, this neighborhood features the famed Santa Monica Pier and the wide-open beach that can keep the whole family entertained for days on end.
Where to Stay in Los Angeles for Shopping:
Los Angeles is a fashion city. Whether you’re shopping locally or seeking international brands, each part of town has something for you. Malls abound throughout LA while vintage and thrift stores line the main streets of Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood.
For designer shops and high-end fashion, Beverly Hills is the place to go. From Rodeo Drive to Brighton Way, you’ll have endless options as you wander the beautiful streets. Downtown has the Fashion and Arts District, but the second place to stay for shopping is Venice Beach. Along Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a happening shopping strip home to popular indie designers from Timbuk2 to SALT.
Best Areas to Stay in Los Angeles for Sightseeing:
So much of the draw to LA is the famous sights. They’ve shown up on our TV screens for decades, so what would it be like to see them with our own eyes? Although it can feel very touristy, it’s easy to get swept up in the fun and fame of LA.
For sightseeing, Hollywood has it all. Not only will you be close to the Hollywood sign but also the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Griffith Park, and theme parks like Universal Studios and the fun Universal City Walk.
Our Money-Saving Tips for Los Angeles
Avoid Airport Taxis
Don’t wait around for taxis or even Ubers from LAX. The chaotic airport is hard enough to endure as it is. Simply take the Flyaway Bus, which departs four times an hour.
Visit the Free Museums
The Broad, Getty Center, Hammer Museum, and the California Center are all free to visit. Other museums often have one-off “free days” each week. If you want to visit more museums make sure to check out the LA Card for some great savings.
Street Food for Days
There’s no shortage of food trucks in LA and most of them serve downright delicious Mexican cuisine. Dine on tacos at Guisados or Leo’s Taco Truck so you have more beer money. This food tour will take you to the best eats in LA!
Getting Around Los Angeles
Los Angeles has a metro system that is inexpensive. The public transport options include buses, light rail, and subway trains. If you’ve spent time in New York, London or Tokyo, don’t expect it to measure up. But if you plan ahead, you can definitely avoid getting a rental car.
A car is the most efficient way to get around Los Angeles, especially if you avoid the downtown traffic. Just be aware that parking fees will quickly add up. So to make this really worthwhile, combine your car hire with a road trip north towards San Francisco or south to San Diego. Book Your Car Rental here for the best rates.