Where to Stay in Los Angeles: Best Areas & Hotels

One of the most crucial phases in arranging your trip to Los Angeles is deciding where to stay. Beautiful beaches, elegant rooftop pool parties, world-class restaurants, thrilling theme parks, and the Hollywood hustle await visitors in this enormous metropolis. Los Angeles has legendary beautiful weather, notoriously horrible traffic, and a plethora of interesting things to do.

Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend or a fun-filled excursion, knowing where to stay in Los Angeles may make or break your trip! Choosing a hotel in the appropriate location will vastly improve your experience. Choosing something that appears to be close enough on a map might keep you stranded in traffic for hours.

I’ve spent years discovering this beautiful, diverse city. In this article, I’ll outline the best Los Angeles neighborhoods for staying in LA, as well as recommended locations to stay in each.

Let’s get started!

Where to Stay in Los Angeles: Best Places to Stay

los angeles, venice beach walk

If you’re spending more than three or four days in Los Angeles, we recommend staying in two or three different places. You could spend a few days at the beach relaxing, a few days getting your adrenaline pumping at the theme parks and spend the rest of the time in downtown LA or West Hollywood exploring the city.

In this guide to the best accommodations in Los Angeles – based on our explorations of California’s sprawling metropolis – you’ll find the information you need to choose accommodations in Los Angeles and find the perfect base for your visit.

Here are the four neighborhoods we think you should focus on when searching. Each has its own pros and cons, which we’ll discuss below, and it depends to some extent on what you’re looking for.

In most cities, we usually have a recommendation for “best first-time visitors”, but here we don’t. It depends entirely on the experience you want to have in Los Angeles. 

  • If you are on a budget, we recommend staying in downtown LA.
  • If you want to live near the beach, stay in Santa Monica.
  • If you want to stay in a neighborhood with vibrant nightlife, you should stay in West Hollywood.
  • If you want to stay in one of LA’s coolest neighborhoods, you should stay in Silver Lake.

Santa Monica: the best place near the beach

If you want to live near the beach, Santa Monica is the place to be. Plus, it’s on the west side of town, which means it’s a little easier to get around the city thanks to the reversed path.

This beachfront neighborhood is a tourist destination in its own right, home to celebrities, surfers and hippies. While most visitors come here just for the beach, and it really is fantastic, there are many other things to do in the area.

The famous Santa Monica Pier is a lively attraction with arcades, stores, outdoor cinemas and live music. Just below is an aquarium that offers informative lectures and participatory activities for families.

Santa Monica can be an expensive area; if you’re on a budget, nearby Venice Beach is more economical.

If you want to spend a day here, you can also take a train from downtown Los Angeles.

Pros and cons of a stay in Santa Monica

Pros: The beach. The best beach in Los Angeles is within walking distance. The Santa Monica farmers market is also AMAZING. Montana Avenue is one of our favorite streets in Los Angeles, with all kinds of bars, restaurants, and stores worth checking out.

Disadvantages: It will take time to get to downtown LA, Silver Lake and the rest of the East Side. Plan these areas together when you get there. Parking here is a nightmare, and if you arrive by car, you’ll probably have to pay for a parking space – either at the hotel or in a garage. It’s also expensive: the closer you are to the sea, the more expensive it is.

Santa Monica Highlights

Spend the day at Santa Monica State Beach and the Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica State Beach is a 3.5-mile long sandy beach, perfect for relaxing or enjoying water sports. Be sure to visit the Santa Monica Pier, a long oceanfront promenade with arcades, stores and restaurants.

While you’re here, be sure to visit Pacific Park, the amusement park located on the Santa Monica Pier. The view of the ocean from the roller coaster and Ferris wheel is unreal.

Stroll through Palisades Park. Palisades Park is a 25-acre green space located next to Santa Monica Beach. It offers a fantastic view of the ocean and there are trails for walking, jogging and biking.

Head to Venice Beach. Venice Beach is an iconic part of Santa Monica with its T-shirt stores and street artists. At Muscle Beach, you can watch bodybuilders work out in front of a crowd of onlookers. If you’re in the area, explore the canals of Venice, where ducks and paddlers swim on the creeks.

Buy fresh produce at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. This is one of the best farmers markets in Los Angeles, with tables full of fresh produce from quality local farmers. You shop for food with celebrities and celebrity chefs. It’s open Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 8am to 1pm.

Where to stay in Santa Monica

In our opinion, the best place to stay in Santa Monica is the north end of the neighborhood, between the beach and near Montana Avenue, a street lined with restaurants, bars and stores, which was our favorite street in Los Angeles.

There are, however, a few hotels directly on the beach that are worth a look. But you will have to pay for them. Santa Monica hotels are expensive, as it’s a high-demand area.

As I mentioned before, many Santa Monica hotels can’t be beat, at least in terms of price, if budget is a factor. However, if you want to treat yourself – perhaps for a special occasion – this is the place to be. You can’t get much better than waterfront luxury in Santa Monica.

Casa Del Mar

Casa Del Mar is one of the few hotels in Los Angeles that is located directly on the beach. It is a luxury hotel with a pool overlooking the beach and live music every night. Each room is luxuriously furnished and features four-poster beds, bookcases and a small sitting area. The spa offers popular treatments such as oxygen facials and hot stone massages.

Shutters on the Beach

Shutters on the Beach is the other beach hotel in Los Angeles. It is frequented by celebrities for its high-end services. The hotel offers private yoga or surfing classes. Even if you’re not staying here, book a table at 1 Pico restaurant, which offers a lobster brunch on weekends.

Downtown L.A.: best for budget stays and city lovers

Downtown Los Angeles is a popular place to stay, as it’s full of interesting sights – from Grand Central Market to Staples Center – as well as bars, restaurants and nightclubs. This makes it one of the best accommodations in Los Angeles if you don’t have a car.

Although this is the historic heart of the city, the large bank buildings have been transformed into extravagant stores and world-class restaurants. The number of skyscrapers in this area makes Downtown LA the commercial center of Los Angeles. This is the best place to visit if you are looking for cool nightlife and some of the best restaurants in the city.

Pros and Cons of staying in Downtown LA

Pros: For a short stay, Downtown LA is a great place to start, as there is plenty to see and do in the area, and it’s easy to get to Hollywood, the Arts District, Chinatown and Silver Lake. Plus, the city is relatively inexpensive and has a great selection of hotels. If you’re interested in art and culture, you’re in the right place: the Broad, the Staples Center and many music events, such as the Philharmonic, are located here.

Disadvantages: It’s a concrete jungle, although there are some green spaces. Also, it’s near Skid Row, which is infamous and not the best location. Parking is difficult, so if you have a car, you have to pay to park.

Highlights of Downtown LA

 Grand Central Market in DTLA: a great food hall that’s worth a visit.

Try some of the best food in Los Angeles at Grand Central Market. Founded in 1917, this Los Angeles restaurant offers some of the city’s best food under one roof. Whatever your craving, you’ll find it here.

Shopping and dining at ROW DTLA. This urban mall features unique stores, restaurants and cafes on 32 acres. It brings together world-renowned and independent brands in one space. Don’t miss the Sunday Smorgasburg: a huge gathering of food trucks and booths offering all kinds of food.

See what’s happening at LA Live. LA Live is a huge entertainment center that includes the Staples Center, a movie theater, bowling alley, nightclubs, restaurants and even a museum. If you don’t know what to do, there is always something fun to do at LA Live.

Drink great coffee in the downtown area, where you’ll find some great coffee shops. Some great brands like Verve Coffee Roasters, Blue Bottle Coffee and Stumptown Coffee have coffee shops here. But the highlight is Cognoscenti Coffee, which has two locations near downtown and is among the best coffee shops in Los Angeles.

Check out the shelves at the latest bookstore. This bookstore is housed in a former bank building, and the shelves of vintage books have found their place between the marble columns and high ceilings. Support your independent bookstores and come find your next great read.

Accommodations in Downtown Los Angeles

This part of the city is full of incredibly hip hotels, and to top it off, they’re more affordable than other parts of the city.

If you have a car, you’ll have to pay a little more each day to park.

The Hoxton

The Hoxton, one of my favorite hotel chains in the world, has a classic vibe with a vintage feel and clean, neutral colors. It’s located on the south end of downtown Los Angeles, near the Staples Center, the fashion district and Santee Alley, a flea market where you can stroll around and buy things you didn’t know you needed. The building that houses it was once the headquarters of the Los Angeles Railroad, but has since been restored and recalls its London roots.

The hotel attracts a hip crowd of locals and tourists to its restaurants. The hotel’s pool is open from sunrise to sunset and offers a beautiful view of downtown Los Angeles. The pool bar offers a selection of classic and new cocktails.

NoMad Hotel

The NoMad Hotel features a luxurious interior and a beautiful rooftop pool with a view of the city. Rooms range from cozy hotel rooms to spacious suites, all with comfortable beds, hardwood floors. There’s also a fitness room with Peloton bikes, if you want to work out before a day of exploring.

There’s also a popular coffee and cocktail bar on the rooftop pool deck. Most of the Nomad’s suites have a clawfoot tub and offer stunning views of the city.

Silver Lake: the best of the best for a local feel

Silver Lake and Echo Park are neighboring neighborhoods, located near Chinatown and downtown Los Angeles. Since these neighborhoods are primarily for locals, there are great cafes, quirky stores and hidden gems to discover. There is only one accommodation here that is not a vacation rental, and we think you should avoid vacation rentals in Los Angeles.

Before you decide to stay here, you should know that this is the epicenter of Los Angeles gentrification. This is a highly desirable area that has seen demand rise and rent prices soar, to the point where residents who have lived here for decades are turning their apartments into vacation homes or opening a new trendy clothing store.

We won’t remedy gentrification here, but you should stay in these two areas because you know what impact your visit (and others like you) has had on this community. In any case, we recommend staying in a hotel (there is really only one) and not in a vacation rental that takes desperately needed long-term apartments off the market so that the owners can make more money.

Nonetheless, we really liked this part of town and it is very well located for visiting nearby neighborhoods like Downtown Los Angeles and Los Feliz (and Hollywood).

Pros and Cons of a stay in Silver Lake

Pros: The neighborhood has many good restaurants, bars and more. Plus, there are other interesting areas to explore nearby, and Dodger Stadium, Elysian Park and Griffith Park are not far away.

Disadvantages: This is a gentrification hot spot in Los Angeles. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, you should look elsewhere. Sunset Boulevard isn’t the most pleasant street to walk down, as traffic speeds by in multiple lanes (we thought it would be much quieter), but the area near the man-made lake is much more charming and quiet. There aren’t too many options outside of vacation accommodations – in fact, there is only one good hotel – so the choice is limited (but it’s a great hotel!).

Silver Lake Highlights

Experience the best coffee scene in LA. Silver Lake and Echo Park are slightly hipster residential neighborhoods, so they take their coffee very seriously. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I love coffee and look for the best coffee in every place I visit. Go to Intelligentsia and Dinosaur Coffee in Silver Lake and Woodcat Coffee Bar in Echo Park.

Eat a fantastic Thai meal at Night + Market Song. This unpretentious restaurant serves a mix of popular and unusual Thai street food. Despite the relaxed atmosphere with noisy communal tables and a small counter that doubles as a bar, the delicious and authentic food attracts LA’s elite.

Browse the shelves at Stories Bookstore. The shelves of this bookstore are full of books in stock, from classics to rare finds. In the courtyard, there’s a small cafe where you can sit and enjoy the book you just bought.

Shop for local produce at the Silver Lake Farmers’ Market. This farmers’ market is open Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings. You’ll find the freshest produce grown right in Los Angeles.

Where to stay in Silver Lake

Silver Lake Pool and Inn

The Silver Lake Pool and Inn, located in the heart of Silver Lake, is a hipster’s dream. It’s located right at the confluence of Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, making it a short walk to places like Intelligentsia Coffee and the farmers market.

Rooms are spacious and beautiful, with local furniture and furnishings and lots of natural light. There are also double rooms with two single beds, ideal for groups visiting the city.

But the highlight is the breathtaking rooftop terrace with pool and stunning views of the Hollywood sign. It’s the best place to enjoy a cocktail at sunset. Each room has a Nespresso coffee machine and a tablet with a guide to nearby tourist attractions. WLAN is free.

The hotel allows pets, so you can bring your furry friends. Plus, parking in an underground lot here is only $20 per night, which is a great deal in Los Angeles.

West Hollywood: the best central location

los angeles rodeo drive

Hollywood itself – the main street – is a bit of a tourist trap, to be honest. The Walk of Fame isn’t exactly great, and it’s crowded and dirty. Plus, the prices can be excessive and you can’t really get to know the city.

Rather than living in Hollywood, we recommend living in West Hollywood. From there, you can walk to all the tourist attractions, but you also live closer to the restaurants, drinks, and other parts of Los Angeles that we love. 

West Hollywood is also the best place in LA to enjoy the nightlife. Sunset Boulevard is home to some of the best clubs in the world, and Santa Monica Boulevard has a large number of LGBTQ+ bars and clubs.

Pros and Cons of a West Hollywood Vacation

Pros: West Hollywood is THE place to be at night. It’s also very central, especially for eastern areas, but it’s not too far from places like Santa Monica.

Disadvantages: It’s noisy and busy, so if you’re looking for a quiet retreat, this isn’t the right place.

West Hollywood Highlights

Meet the celebrities at Book Soup. Book Soup, on Sunset Boulevard, is a cult attraction in Los Angeles. Celebrities have been spotted browsing the shelves. Not only books are sold here, but also record players and a large selection of vinyl.

Stroll along the famous Sunset Strip. During the day, the Sunset Strip is lined with popular stores. At night, the Strip transforms into one of the biggest nightlife centers in Los Angeles. If you’re looking for a sophisticated night out, check out one of the hotel’s bars, such as the Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel. If you’re looking for a trendy night out, check out one of the rock clubs like the Viper Room.

Laugh till your ears hurt at famous comedy clubs like the Laugh Factory or the Comedy Store. These venues attract big names in the comedy scene like Tiffany Haddish and Dave Chapelle. Find out who will be performing during your stay.

Where to stay in West Hollywood

In West Hollywood, there’s a good balance between hotels that offer good value and those that offer something special for special occasions (or just a weekend treat).

 Sunset Tower Hotel

The Sunset Tower dates back to Hollywood’s golden age and remains a celebrity hangout and monument to opulence to this day. Here, the service is unparalleled and the staff regularly steps up to the plate. The spa is run by Joanna Vegas, and if you’re in town during the Emmys, celebrities often come here to get pampered before the event.

Andaz West Hollywood

The Andaz is a very elegant hotel located on the Sunset Strip. Some of the 240 rooms offer incredible views of the Los Angeles skyline, and some even have balconies with that unforgettable view. If you’re not one of the lucky ones, you can always go to the pool or the rooftop bar to enjoy the view (and the drink). It’s also quite affordable, making it a great combination of value, style and location in West Hollywood.

Do You need to rent a car in Los Angeles?

L.A. is the second most populous city in the United States and the third most populous city in North America.

The city is very large and doesn’t really have a public transportation system, which means you’ll probably be tempted to rent a car to make the most of your stay.

We recommend not renting a car and spending your money on carpooling. Parking can be a nightmare – budget an extra $30 per night if you stay in a hotel with a car.

Final Thoughts

Los Angeles is huge and offers you literally hundreds of accommodation options, with all sorts of different neighborhoods that have their own characteristics and cultures.

At a very high level, we would divide the city into East and West. And since we’re talking in general terms, keep in mind that there are exceptions to the following statements. Los Angeles is huge. So let’s focus on the part of the city you’re most likely to consider when looking for the right home.

On the east side of Los Angeles are neighborhoods like Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Downtown. This part of the city is more like a concrete jungle, especially Hollywood and Downtown, and is less expensive than its western counterparts.

To the west of the city, you’ll find the Pacific Ocean and neighborhoods like Santa Monica, Venice and Culver City. The atmosphere there is very different, there is a beach atmosphere everywhere and it is more relaxed. The closer you get to the beach, the more residential areas there are and the higher the prices.