Last updated on January 19, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in California

Where to stay in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a truly mesmerizing city with everything from picturesque beaches to beautiful and vibrant neighborhoods. The cultural diversity also makes it a completely wholesome visit that will make for some really awesome memories.

The city has a lot to offer in terms of interesting things to do and places to visit. It might, therefore, be a little difficult to settle on where to stay in Los Angeles given your specific travel needs and expectations.

In this 2020 updated guide, you will learn all that you need about the best area to stay in Los Angeles and what makes all the major neighborhoods unique.

Are you visiting the city as a tourist or for business, with or without a car, with family or couple? This guide covers all the options.

That way you will be in a position to make the most of your trip.

You can read also

Burning sunset on Los Angeles
Burning sunset on Los Angeles

Have you booked your flight? Yes? Check out the coolest things happening in the city on the Los Angeles Magazine, one of my favorites. 

Where to stay in Los Angeles for tourists, families and couples – Key Points

  • Where to stay in Los Angeles first time: there are a few possibilities, however, West Hollywood is really unbeatable for its location. You will be close to the city center, a quick bus ride to the beach and next to the popular Hollywood. Read more below for visiting LA for the first time, including suggested restaurants, bars and a great hotel to stay
  • Where to stay in Los Angeles as a tourist: for proximity to celebrity attractions Hollywood is of course unbeatable. Why not staying close to actors, directors, musicians and you name it? The other possibility is Beverly Hills, one of the quietest and safest areas of Los Angeles. Read more about both areas below, including a few must-see attractions
  • Best area to stay in Los Angeles with family: LA can be busy, very busy with traffic, almost chaotic. This is why I would suggest staying in Santa Monica when traveling with kids, right at the beach but still with easy access to the city by public transportation. The alternative is of course Anaheim, world-famous for Disneyland. Read more about staying in LA with kids below
  • Where to stay in Los Angeles without a car: if you are planning to visit the lots of attractions in LA without a car then Downtown is a great base because it’s very well connected by the metro to Santa Monica,  Long Beach, Hollywood and more. Read more below about Downtown and how safe is it.
  • Best place to stay in Los Angeles with a car: the nearby Venice Beach and Marina del Rey are perfect if you are driving to the busy LA. They are not well served by public transportation which means accommodations come cheaper and you can use your own car to go around or drive to Santa Monica to catch the train to downtown and Hollywood. Read more below about both Venice and Marina 
  • Best places to stay in Los Angeles for couples: if you are after a glamour breakaway then I would probably stay in Beverly Hills where you can find the Beverly Hills Dorchester Collection, one of the most unique places to spend your time in Los Angeles. In Spring/Summer, you may also want to think about staying in Santa Monica and take the train back to the city for sightseeing. In this case, you should check out the Shutters On The Beach, in the most amazing and romantic spot of Los Angeles, facing the sea where you can have the best sunset ever.
  • Where to stay in Los Angeles on a budget: located North East of the Hollywood area, Los Feliz is a youngish neighborhood where you can still find some budget places to sleep. The alternative is a hostel in Santa Monica. Read more below about a stay on a budget
  • Where to stay in LA for a weekend: if you have just a weekend or a short stay then Downtown is the place to be. You will have easy access to the Metro line and in a few minutes, you will be in most of the areas I have mentioned in this post, including Santa Monica. Read more below about Downtown
  • Where to stay in Los Angeles safe: all of the areas suggested in this post are safe. Beverly Hills is the safest of all, most probably. In saying that, being a city you should always take the usual precautions like not walking in dark streets at night, etc.
  • So, what are the best 7 areas to stay in Los Angeles: these are Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Downtown, Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Los Feliz and I have described all of them in more details below
Best areas to stay in Los Angeles - View here the Google Interactive Map
Best areas to stay in Los Angeles – View here the Google Interactive Map

 

Where to stay in LA first time

It’s always a hard choice because Los Angeles has so many great neighborhoods to book your stay.

My choice goes however to West Hollywood, a great area positioned in the best part of LA, next to everything

West Hollywood (best of the city, closer to the beach)

If you are looking for easier access to the beach and still be in the city then West Hollywood is the best area to stay as a tourist.

With the ever convenient public transportation option, you will always be close to the water. Just grab the bus 704 and you will be taken directly to the Santa Monica Pier.

Alternatively, if you have a car, drive straight on the Santa Monica Boulevard till you see the water.

West Hollywood also offers the advantage of mild temperature year-round.

You will appreciate this, particularly during the summer as it manages to remain cooler than other parts of LA.

The Best Western Plus Sunset Plaza Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel, as quintessentially LA as you can get (see photos here).

With its Sunset Strip address, it is conveniently located for tourists offering quick access to attractions like the Hollywood walk of fame and popular restaurants.

If you want to take a day off from your exploration, you will have a beautiful, air-conditioned room with free Wi-Fi to enjoy.

Check prices at Sunset Plaza

Other available options are:

Once you are done getting that tan or enjoy your surfing session, you will have worked up quite an appetite.

One place to get your cravings catered to is the Boxwood Restaurant.

It specializes in breakfast and deserts and is home to world-renowned master chef Gordon Ramsey and getting to try out his food is an opportunity of a lifetime.

If you are in the mood for light snacks, then try out The Assembly.

This modern-style café is best known for its gourmet beverages and decadent pastries.

Where to stay in Los Angeles as a tourist

Figuring out the best place to stay in Los Angeles for tourists is not very hard if you know exactly what type of experience you are looking for.

Do you want to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and hit all the typical tourist hot spots?

Or do you want to experience authentic Los Angeles culture and explore its hidden gems?

Having figured your priorities out, here are the 2 best options you have.

Being a tourist in Los Angeles
Being a tourist in Los Angeles

Hollywood (for proximity to celebrity attractions)

Hollywood is easily the best area to stay in Los Angeles as a tourist mainly due to the proximity to LA-specific attractions. 

Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood
Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood

It would be particularly fun to get a spot near the Walk of Fame or Universal Studios.

These offer a great vantage point from which you can access all that this zip code has to offer from the restaurants to the bars.

The Gorgeous Hollywood Living offers the best vantage point to some of the most iconic Hollywood attractions including Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Studios.

You will also get to enjoy handy amenities including air conditioning, a pool area (see photos here), private parking as well as free Wi-Fi.

The furnished units (1BR or 2BR) come with fully equipped kitchens and living spaces which makes them perfect for families or general group trips.

Check prices at the Universal Studios

Other available options are:

One of the most popular restaurants to check out is Beetle House LA.

It is a bar and grill type of restaurant that in addition to great food offers patrons a chance to enjoy live performances.

Another great restaurant to try out in the area is Kali.

It is a chic little spot known for its creative California-style dishes. They also have an impressive wine collection for you to explore.

Being a popular tourist hub, Hollywood has a well-established public transportation network.

This makes getting around to the many attractions very convenient.

That way, whether you want to visit The Hollywood Museum of Death or the TLC Chinese Theatre, you are just a bus ride away.

Beverly Hills (quiet and safe)

Beverly Hills is another great option for a tourist if you are looking for a quiet and safe place to operate from on your trip.

It has almost no nightlife which though a bummer for the night owl makes it perfect for families.

So what is there to do other than shop and spot celebrities in Beverly Hills?

The answer: a foodie experience.

Mastro’s Steakhouse should be your first stop in this case. This upscale chophouse is perfect for family or group dinner parties with their eclectic menu and great ambience.

Another awesome place to try out would be the Madeo Restaurant. This Italian restaurant oozes luxury and romance and is perfect for that special night out on your trip.

Beverly Hills is known for its opulence and the Kimpton Hotel Wilshire stays true to the vibe with its amazing design and luxury décor (see photos here).

It also offers some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of Los Angeles.

One thing you will definitely enjoy is the fact that you get to take in this without having to leave your room.

Check availability at the Kimpton

Other available options are:

Best area to stay in Los Angeles with family

Los Angeles and all its attractions, for the most part, cater to couples, friend groups and solo travelers.

This begs the question of where is the best place to stay in Los Angeles for families.

There are 2 key locations in this case that definitely will not disappoint.

Crosswalk on Santa Monica boulevard
Crosswalk on Santa Monica boulevard

Santa Monica (beach time with access to the city)

This is the best place to stay with family near Los Angeles offering quick access to the city either by car (30minutes) or train/bus (45min-1hr).

It also offers easy access to major attractions.

You could visit the Santa Monica pier and its popular stop points including the Heal the Bay Pier Aquarium and the Pacific Ocean Amusement Park.

These are two places that your children will definitely have a great time at.

You will also have access to the beach which is always fun for family days out. 

Moreover, you will feel more on a holiday in this bohemian environment and the city is just a quick bus/car ride away.

The Cal Mar Hotel Suites feature beautifully furnished bedrooms (see photos here) as well as sofa beds in the living space which are ideal for children.

The units also come with fully equipped kitchens and cable TV which allows you to make it home away from home.

When you are not splashing about in the pool, you could enjoy some time out exploring nearby locations as the Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park.

Check prices at Cal Mar Suites

Other available options are:

Santa Monica also has numerous family-friendly restaurants to try out.

One popular option is Fritto Misto. This is an Italian restaurant with a twist as it allows you to craft your own pasta. The kids will definitely enjoy being involved.

While Santa Monica undeniably has a lot to offer your family, it is important that your book your accommodation well in advance as hotels tend to be booked out well in advance.

Santa Monica, during the winter, has some great bargains.

If you are on a budget, this may be the right place for you.

And winter is quite mild, especially if compared to Canada or the North European winter.

Anaheim (for Disneyland)

If your number one priority during your LA trip is to visit Disneyland then Anaheim is the best place to stay as a family.

This neighborhood is perfectly located between not only this magical wonderland but also the Hollywood area and all its amazing attractions.

To get the most out of your trip, it would be best to stay at one of the resorts inside the park.

This offers you easy access not only to the main park but also to numerous child-friendly activities as well as restaurants like Carnation Café.

This is a Walt Disney-inspired restaurant that serves a wide variety of comfort foods.

It would also be best to plan your trip during weekdays where the park is less busy.

With this schedule, you can have your weekends free to explore Hollywood, therefore, knocking off the majority of your bucket list items in one week.

If you are visiting Los Angeles as a family and you are looking for a place close to Disneyland then the Howard Johnson Hotel & Water Playground is the perfect accommodation to book (just 8 minutes walk to the park).

The kids will also enjoy the on-site pirate-themed water playground (see photos here) as you kick back and enjoy your holiday by the pool.

It features simple yet cozily decorated air-conditioned rooms with specific suites for families.

Check prices at Howard Johnson Hotel

Where to stay in Los Angeles without a car

Should you choose to forgo the option of having your own car then Downtown would be the best place to stay.

It has well-established public transportation that will get you safely around the area and to other parts of LA.

 

The streets are also relatively safe allowing you to enjoy the district’s lively night scene.

You could go to one of the many amazing restaurants like Faith and Flower. This is a retro-themed upscale restaurant famous for its unique twist on rustic American cuisine as well as its awesome craft cocktails.

Finding a place close to the 7th St/Metro Center train station would offer further convenience especially if you are planning to explore out of town attractions.

The Haas Building Residences is 3 blocks from the metro station, particularly ideal for exploring Los Angeles without a car.

It’s also conveniently close to bike share stations if you want to have your adventure on two wheels.

One of the best things about this accommodation is the unique blend of modern and industrial era décor themes (see photos here).

Check prices at the Urban Apartments

Eastern Columbia Lofts in Downtown
Eastern Columbia Lofts in Downtown

Other available options are:

From the 7th St/Metro Center train station you can grab a direct train to Santa Monica and Long Beach for a swim. Or to Hollywood and the Universal Studios.

Plenty of options, without mentioning the bus network.

This part of town is also really close to the iconic Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa.

This is an acclaimed oriental cuisine spot celebrated for the fresh ingredients, chic décor and authentic taste.

Best place to stay in Los Angeles with a car

If you choose to get a rental or bring your own car, then your best options on where to stay are Venice Beach and Marina Del Rey.

Bohemian Venice Beach
Bohemian Venice Beach

These bohemian neighborhoods have a lot of attractions for you to explore.

They are also conveniently located near other Los Angeles hotspots like Santa Monica.

Having your own car here also comes in handy as the two locations are not very well connected as far as public transportation is concerned.

Buses are available in Venice Beach but take twice as long to get you into the city

The Inn at Venice Beach is incredibly popular for having spacious rooms that are surprisingly super cozy.

At first glance, this hotel is definitely something unique (see photos here).

If you are planning on renting a car or traveling with yours, you will definitely appreciate their onsite parking which is a real blessing in this part of L.A.

Check prices at the Inn

Other available options are:

A must-visit spot, if you are a huge fan of craft brews, is the Venice Ale House.

They also serve amazing American cuisine on their aesthetic boardwalk-side setting.

You will also want to drive to Eggslut which is a new and hip breakfast café.

You can grab your egg and ham sandwich here as you head off to the beach for a nice midmorning picnic.

Where to stay in Los Angeles on a budget (and safe)

If you are willing to compromise on the glitz and glamour offered by locations like West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, LA actually has pretty decent low budget options.

The most important things to consider as you figure out where to stay in Los Angeles cheap are your safety and proximity to attractions.

View to the city of Los Angeles
View to the city of Los Angeles

North of Hollywood neighborhood/Los Feliz (the youngish area)

Los Feliz is a trendy neighborhood North East of the Hollywood area.

It is best known for having a young vibe and affordable amenities for both residents and tourists.

The best part is that it offers awesome proximity to attractions like Griffith Park with its amazing nature trails and facilities like easy access to the Hollywood/Western Subway Station and therefore the Metro network.

The PodShare Los Feliz is a truly unique experience for the budget traveler in Los Angeles.

The pods take shared-living to the next level with their unique concept which is a modern and classier take on backpacker hostels (see photos here).

You get to enjoy a super comfortable bed with free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities as well as air conditioning and central heating.

Check bargain at PodShare Los Feliz

The neighborhood has many low budget restaurants including Best Fish Taco in Ensenada. It is famous for the authentic homemade Mexican dishes from fresh guacamole to shrimp tacos.

Another good and affordable eatery to try while in Los Feliz would be All Time. This is a quaint little café that is perfect for those lazy morning brunches after a day of exploring LA.

Santa Monica (hostel option)

Santa Monica is another place to consider for a budget stay because of the numerous hostels available.

The HI Hostel Santa Monica, in particular, is a state of the art facility that is part of the new wave of comfortable and affordable yet safe accommodation for low budget trips. It features a variety of spacious, beautifully–decorated rooms (see photos here) for you to choose from based on your budget and travel needs. The facility offers shared amenities including hot shower bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, common entertainment spaces as well as a communal kitchen.

Check availability at the HI Hostel

Central yard at the HI Santa Monica Hostel
Central yard at the HI Santa Monica Hostel

Best areas to stay in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of the most important cities in the US, with one of the best economies in the country, and the leading media producer (movies, TV shows, etc) in the world with the well renowned Hollywood district.

It covers a vast territory with plenty of districts and neighborhoods. This guide focuses on the best areas to stay in Los Angeles as a tourist, for vacation. 

In this respect, the list below covers only a part of the city. These are the neighborhoods with most of the attractions of LA, the ones that you are probably already planning to see and experience.

On a second and third trip to LA you may want to explore new neighborhoods, although I would personally book anyway the accommodation in the locations below.

A few neighborhoods are honestly great to see in the day, however, they become not too safe at night.

One thing to notice. Summer (July to early September) can be quite hot. If you are visiting during this period you may opt to stay on the coast where the weather is much cooler and windier with the nice sea breeze.

Traveling with kids? I do not think I can suggest a unique best area to stay in Los Angeles with family. It really depends on the age of your children and the season too (more on this later, in the family section).

Best areas to stay in Los Angeles
Best areas to stay in Los Angeles – View here the Google Interactive Map

Above you see a map of the best areas to stay in Los Angeles. A short description for each of them is below, followed with a few suggestions on the best place to stay in Los Angeles based on the type of vacation.

Hollywood (the celebrities neighborhood)

Hollywood is LA’s entertainment district and is home to some of the country’s largest film production companies.

These include the likes of Warner Bros, Paramount and Columbia. 

Paramount Studios
Paramount Studios

It is also home to major household name film stars and it is highly likely that you may bump into your celebrity crush at a restaurant or even in the street.

In terms of attractions, the district does not disappoint. Here, you will find iconic spots like the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as a direct view of the famous Hollywood sign.

For these reasons, it would be a great place to stay in Los Angeles if you are a huge movie buff or just a fan of the celebrity lifestyle.

West Hollywood (the upper-class area)

West Hollywood is a ritzy neighborhood which is best known for having one of the most vibrant night scenes in the city.

Here, you get to party with the rich and famous in high-end clubs and upscale bars like Boosty Bellows and The Viper Room.

And trust me; these are unlike anything you will ever experience.

West Hollywood also happens to be every foodie’s dream.

The location is home to numerous amazing restaurants with the perfect combination of decadent cuisine and enchanting ambiance.

You might have to spend a lot for this experience but it will definitely be worth it.

Beverly Hills (shopaholic’s dream)

Shop till you drop…

This is literally what Beverly Hills was built to facilitate.

This swanky shopping district is home to the famous Rodeo Street which is truly every shopaholic’s dream.

There are also numerous high end as well as bargain stores in shopping centers like Anderton Court and Beverly Center.

In addition to shopping your bank account into oblivion, Beverly Hills has numerous underrated attractions to check out. These include the likes of the Greystone Mansion and Melrose Avenue which is a popular art hub.

Finally, Beverly Hills has numerous awesome restaurants, cocktail bars and clubs for you to re-energize at after a long day of shopping and sight-seeing.

Downtown (close to everything, except the beach)

If you want to get a real feel of Los Angeles in all its diverse glory then Downtown is where you should stay.

This eclectic central business district has over the past few years undergone major changes. What was once a boring all work no play district is now one of LA’s most hip and exciting places to live.

The neighborhood offers easy access to famous Los Angeles attractions like The Staples Center, The Grammy Museum and Orpheum Theatre.

It also allows you to experience the influence of cultural diversity in the city with the likes of Chinatown and Little Tokyo. You just have to give up easy access to the beach in order to enjoy all this.

View from Lincoln Heights
View from Lincoln Heights

Santa Monica (outside Los Angeles)

Santa Monica is a beachside city in California.

It is a great place to stay if you want to be close to Los Angeles without immersing yourself in its chaos.

Santa Monica has a lot more to offer than convenient access to LA and cooler weather in summer.

It has numerous must-visit attractions including the art galleries at Bergamot Station, Santa Monica Pier and all its treasures as well as the famous Muscle Beach.

In addition to all these things to see, Santa Monica is a shopping paradise.

Third Street Promenade, in particular, is a retail hotspot which offers access to everything from popular brand name shops to quaint little hand-craft stands.

Skateboarding in Venice Beach
Skateboarding in Venice Beach

Venice Beach (the bohemian area)

The City of the Endless Summer.

Venice Beach is one of the hippest and laid-back parts of town and has earned a reputation as being a cultural hub in the region.

It is famous for having some of the most chilled out and free-spirited residents and their vibes will definitely rub off on you.

It screams bohemian from a mile away with the mesmerizing street murals, an endless supply of street performers and quaint little shops.

Their restaurants also echo this theme in their décor and cuisine options.

The best part is the fact that the neighborhood offers easy and quick access to the beach for some sun-and-sand fun.

Photo credits on a few photos in this post
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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