Where to Stay in Los Angeles: A Complete Guide

Figuring out exactly where to stay in Los Angeles isn’t the easiest task. The city is massive, and can be overwhelming for someone who has never visited! As a California native who has lived in LA for over four years, I’m here to give you a local’s perspective on staying in the city.

Should you stay downtown? Should you stay near the beach? Spoiler alert: there’s no cookie-cutter answer – it completely depends on what you’re looking for!

Lucky for you, we’ve got exactly what you need to find the perfect place to stay in Los Angeles for your style and budget. Below, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the five best areas to stay in Los Angeles – pros and cons, neighborhood highlights, and the best places to stay. 

Planning a trip to Los Angeles? Here’s a guide to spending a weekend in L.A. with a day-by-day itinerary, and everything you need to know to plan an amazing trip. Or, if you only have a day, read our guide to spending one amazing day in Los Angeles (spoiler: we gave you two different ways to do it!).

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel and vacation rental links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would absolutely never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles: The 5 Best Areas to Stay in L.A.

Here are five great neighborhoods to consider staying in for your trip. For each, you’ll get an overview, the pros and cons of staying in that particular area, what to do, eat, and drink in the neighborhood, and a few of the best places to stay.

Don’t have the time to read the entire guide in detail below?

Here’s a quick run-down of the top three areas to stay in Los Angeles, depending on the type of traveler you are. You should definitely at least read the entire section for your chosen neighborhood though!

Essentially, the first decision you need to make around where to stay in L.A. is whether you want to be close to the beach or not. It takes A LONG TIME to go from one side of L.A. to the other (like from Downtown or Silver Lake to the beach). Especially when there’s traffic.

If staying near the beach is a must, stay in Santa Monica. If it’s not, you have a few more options to choose from.

  • If you’re looking for a great central location, roughly equidistant between Downtown and the beach, look at West Hollywood. The area is a great place to explore in its own right, with plenty of places to eat, drink, and shop within its borders, but also offers great access to other parts of the city.

  • If you’re looking to stay near the beach, your best bet is Santa Monica. Santa Monica is charming, with great stretches of shops, bars, and restaurants (particularly along Montana Ave on the north side of the neighborhood). There are plenty of hotels to choose from, though it’s one of the more expensive places to stay in L.A. If you’re on a budget, stay at the Georgian Hotel, or consider staying in nearby Venice, which is also a fun place to stay near the beach.

  • If you’ve got a short trip and want to experience the “city” parts of L.A., stay right in the heart of all the action in Downtown L.A. This is where you’ll find cultural icons like Staples Center, along with places like Grand Central Market, a bunch of great museums, and more. Plus, this area has the best hotels in L.A. We LOVE CitizenM Hotels, and they just opened a new branch in L.A. There are also a handful of stylish boutique hotels to choose from, like the Ace Hotel (we’ve stayed at their NYC location and their Seattle location) and the ultra-stylish Hotel Figueroa (which has a nice rooftop pool).

West Hollywood: The Best Central Location in L.A.

West Hollywood is one of the most central neighborhoods in the city, which makes it a great area if you’re figuring out where to stay for your first time in Los Angeles.  It has trendy restaurants and cafes, as well as great shopping, particularly along Sunset Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, and Melrose Avenue.  

WeHo is also known for having great nightlife, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community. Don’t let that scare you if you’re worried about it not being quiet enough at night. The nightlife is pretty contained to certain areas of Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevards, and there are plenty of hotels away from these spots. 

Pros and Cons of Staying in West Hollywood

  • Centrally Located: WeHo is smack dab in the middle of LA, so it’s great for visitors looking to explore different areas. Beverly Hills is to the west, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is to the south, Hollywood is to the east…you have a ton of great places at your fingertips. There is one caveat though – we’ll talk about that in the cons.  

  • Tons of Excellent Eateries, Bars, and Cafes: The huge variety of places to eat and drink make West Hollywood an amazing neighborhood for tourists and locals alike. 

  • Very Walkable: It’s super easy to walk around WeHo. Whether you want to stroll along the busier main roads or the pretty tree-lined residential streets, there’s really no bad area to explore by foot. 
  • Not Located Near a Major Highway: The center of WeHo is located about four miles away from the 101. That might not sound far, but you get there via Santa Monica Boulevard – one of the busiest streets in LA. Around rush hour, you may spend 30 minutes (or more) in the car just getting to the highway. 

West Hollywood Highlights

The Comedy Store: An iconic comedy club where both seasoned comedians and up-and-comers perform. Keep in mind that they have a two drink minimum policy.

Melrose Trading Post: This outdoor market happens every Sunday, and is a great place to find handmade jewelry, local art, and unique vintage finds. 

The Abbey: This is West Hollywood’s most loved gay club, and the must-visit place if you’re in a dancing mood!

Conservatory: A bar and restaurant with a stunning covered patio, delicious cocktails, and great food. There is also a fun speakeasy-style bar in the back, as well as a walk-up window cafe in the front.  

Rosaliné: A Peruvian restaurant with shareable dishes and amazing cocktails. Definitely order a causa jar and one of their paellas to share with the table.

The Best Places to Stay in West Hollywood

Here are a few cool places to stay in West Hollywood.

The Kimpton La Peer Hotel

The Kimpton La Peer Hotel is located right off of Santa Monica Boulevard, and just steps away from amazing restaurants, bars, and clubs (including The Abbey). This modern luxury hotel has an outdoor pool and 24-hour, fully equipped fitness center on-site with daily fitness classes, as well as a patio bar and Italian restaurant (with 24-hour room service, as well).

All rooms have yoga mats and stocked mini bars, and upgraded rooms and suites have the options of balconies and soaking tubs.

The Edition

The West Hollywood Edition is a luxurious, modern hotel located on the famous Sunset Boulevard. This hotel has an impressive rooftop pool, bar, and restaurant, which offers some of the best views of the LA skyline you can get, as well as a restaurant, lobby bar, 24-hour fitness center, and spa on-site.

All rooms, suites, and penthouses have floor to ceiling windows so that you can enjoy the views of the Hollywood hills, the coast, and Downtown LA. 

Sunset Tower Hotel

The art deco Sunset Tower Hotel (which originally opened in 1931 and has since been designated as a historic place) is located on Sunset Boulevard, and is the perfect place if you want to feel a bit of old Hollywood glamour.

At this hotel, you’ll find a pool, spa, large 24-hour fitness center, casual and formal dining options, a bar, and even amenities for your pet. All rooms and suites have floor to ceiling windows offering views of the LA skyline. 

Petit Ermitage

Petit Ermitage is a boutique hotel with an eclectic, Moroccan-inspired design that is tucked away between Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards. The rooftop – where they host regular yoga classes – features a saltwater pool, cabanas, a bar, and a firepit. All accommodations in this hotel are suites, many of which have balconies.

Downtown Los Angeles: Best Area for City Lovers 

If you love the feeling of being in an actual city, Downtown LA is one of the best places to stay in LA. Downtown LA boasts great restaurants, bars (especially rooftop bars), galleries, and interesting sights. Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and Olvera Street (a Mexican marketplace) are also all located downtown. 

The 101, the 10, and the 5 highways all connect through the neighborhood, so it makes it fairly easy to access other parts of Los Angeles (keeping LA traffic in mind, of course). 

Pros and Cons of Staying in Downtown LA

  • Tons of Excellent Eateries, Bars, and Cafes: There’s really no shortage of places to eat and drink in DTLA, whether you want something casual or more upscale. You’ll see a few recommendations below, but you really can find whatever you’re in the mood for downtown!

  • Walkable: While you may still need to take a rideshare from one side of Downtown LA to the other, a lot of the main sights in the city are pretty contained. You can see a lot without having to jump in a car or public transit. 
  • Not the Most Central Option: Downtown LA isn’t way far out, but it is fairly far east. This means that, if you’re planning on spending more time further west or along the coast, you’ll spend a good amount of time in the car. 

  • Coming and Leaving Can Be Difficult: Unsurprisingly, this area can get very busy, and traffic can be a pain. You may find that driving in and out of Downtown LA to be cumbersome, especially during rush hour.  

Downtown L.A. Highlights

The Broad: The Broad is a large contemporary art museum with a rotating selection of exhibits. Admission is free of charge (with the exception of the occasional exhibit that requires a separate charge). 

Olvera Street: Olvera Street is a vibrant Mexican marketplace that recreates the feel of early California. You’ll find street vendors, restaurants, cafes, and shops sprinkled in and in front of the historic buildings that line this area.

Grand Central Market: This food hall is heaven for foodies. You’ll find a variety of vendors serving food from across the world, including ramen, Mexican food, seafood, and so much more.

Perch: Perch is a French bistro-style restaurant with an incredible two-story rooftop bar right in the middle of Downtown LA. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail and take in the views of the city. 

Best Places to Stay in Downtown Los Angeles

Here are some of our favorite hotels in Downtown Los Angeles.

ACE Hotel
Image courtesy of the ACE Hotel DTLA

The ACE Hotel is a vintage, industrial-chic hotel with musical influences located in the historic United Artists building. It has a restaurant and café on-site, as well as a rooftop bar that serves food. There are rooms, lofts, and suites available, some of which have access to a private terrace.

Some rooms also come with a guitar and/or a turntable with a selection of vinyl.

The Hoxton
Image courtesy of the Hoxton DTLA

The Hoxton mixes beachy vibes with old Hollywood glamour. There are two restaurants on-site (one of which is on the rooftop), as well as a pool on the rooftop. The hotel offers four room sizes, and all rooms have walk-in showers, tea and coffee, and a kettle. 


The NoMad Hotel is located in the historic Giannini Building, originally built in the early 1920s to house the Bank of Italy. The restaurant on-site serves food inspired by both California and Italy, and there is also an indoor bar and café.

On the rooftop, there is a pool, as well as an outdoor café and cocktail bar. There are multiple rooms and suites available, many of which offer incredible views of the city. 

Santa Monica: Best Neighborhood to be Near the Beach

If having easy access to the beach is important, Santa Monica is one of the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles for you to stay in. Santa Monica offers a bustling downtown area with tons of great restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment. There are also more peaceful residential areas that are great to explore if you want to go on a walk. 

The biggest draw, of course, is the beach. There’s plenty of unobstructed space to walk, bike, swim, or just hang out. It’s a popular area, so you definitely won’t find a lot of solitude here, but if you want to avoid the major crowds, just head either north or south of the pier.  

Pros and Cons of Staying in Santa Monica

  • Right on the Coast: You can walk (or bike!) for miles down the beach, so there’s plenty of land to explore. Plus, you’ll get those gorgeous Southern California beach sunsets. 

  • Very Walkable: In addition to the actual beach, both the downtown and surrounding residential areas of Santa Monica are incredibly walkable. 

  • Tons of Great Eateries, Bars, and Cafes: Downtown Santa Monica has an abundance of places to eat and drink. You can also head over to Montana Avenue, which is a quieter strip with lots of eateries and cafes. 
  • Lots of Crowds: Santa Monica is a popular tourist destination, so it can get very crowded, particularly during the summer. If you want to avoid the crowds, steer clear of the pier and Third Street Promenade – there are still plenty of other lovely areas of Santa Monica!

  • Not the Most Central Option: If you’re driving during rush hour, it can take you up to an hour (and in the worst case, sometimes even longer) to get to the WeHo/Hollywood area. That said, for some, the benefit of being on the coast may outweigh this con! If you do end up staying in Santa Monica, it’s vital that you plan your itinerary around not leaving or coming back during rush hour. 

Santa Monica Highlights

Montana Avenue: This strip is just north of downtown Santa Monica. It offers plenty of great cafes and eateries, without the craziness that you find at Third Street Promenade and the general downtown area. 

Palisades Park: This park is situated right above the beach, and is a great place to go for a morning walk or to watch the sunset in the evening. The northern part of the park tends to be less crowded, since it’s further away from the pier.

Sidecar Doughnuts: This super popular doughnut shop bakes doughnuts using only the finest and freshest ingredients. They’re constantly coming out with new seasonal flavors, and there are always vegan and gluten free options.

Birdie G’s: A well-loved American restaurant that serves comfort food and delicious cocktails in a vast industrial space. 

The Bungalow: This is a super popular beachy bar located in the Fairmont Miramar. It has a gorgeous outdoor garden, as well as an indoor game room.

Best Places to Stay in Santa Monica

Here are some of our top recommendations in terms of hotels in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica Proper
Image courtesy of the Santa Monica Proper Hotel

The Santa Monica Proper is a bit tucked away, but is still within walking distance of downtown Santa Monica and the beach.

This hotel mixes a serene, laid back California vibe with luxury, and offers the only rooftop pool in the area, an Ayurvedic spa, a fitness center (with private sessions by appointment), and three options for food and drinks.

Many of the rooms and suites have terraces, and all are stocked with Aesop products. 

Shutters on the Beach

Shutters on the Beach is – as the name suggests – a beachfront hotel that’s just a short walk away from the pier. The hotel has a Cape Cod inspired design, and features a spa, full gym, multiple dining options (including plenty of outdoor beachside dining), and a pool.

The hotel also offers outdoor activities, including yoga on the sand and surf lessons. Most rooms and suites have balconies, and you can upgrade to a beachfront room. 

Fairmont Miramar

The Fairmont Miramar is a beachy yet elegant hotel that is situated just across from Palisades Park and offers unobstructed views of the ocean. It has a 24-hour fitness center, a spa, and a pool, as well as multiple eating and drinking options (including The Bungalow).

This hotel has rooms, suites, and bungalows, with the option to upgrade for an ocean view and/or a patio.

Los Feliz/Silver Lake: Best Areas to Live Like a Local

Los Feliz and Silver Lake are two of the best places to stay in LA for those looking to get away from the more touristy areas and get more of a local vibe.

These neighborhoods (which are right next to each other) are known to attract the artists of LA. You’ll find hipster boutiques, amazing vintage shops, small music venues, creative eateries, and quality coffee shops. 

Off the main roads, these areas are more residential, so if you want to go on a peaceful walk, there’s plenty of space to explore. Just know that this area has lots of hills, so you may break a sweat!

Pros and Cons of Staying in Los Feliz/Silver Lake

  • Not Touristy: This area is definitely one of the least touristy spots on the list, despite it being close to many tourist destinations. You’re going to feel much more entrenched in the day-to-day life of LA locals. 

  • Tons of Great Eateries, Bars, and Cafes: Most of these spots are along Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake and Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz, but you’ll find them sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods. 

  • Centrally Located: Loz Feliz and Silver Lake are close to a lot of the popular tourist spots in Los Angeles. DTLA, Griffith Observatory, Hollywood, LACMA, and more are all within 25 minutes (outside of rush hour). 
  • Far from the Coast: If you dream of spending every day of your LA vacation at the beach, this probably isn’t the area for you. You can certainly head to the coast for a day, but plan to spend at least 35 minutes in the car (and potentially over an hour, depending on when you’re driving). 

Los Feliz & Silver Lake Highlights

Echo Park Lake: Echo Park Lake (which is located in the actual neighborhood of Echo Park, just south of Silver Lake) is a popular park that offers cool views of Downtown LA in the distance. The loop around the lake is a mile long.

Local Staircases: This area is sprinkled with public staircases that are photo-worthy and great for a workout (in addition to being functional, of course)! Some fun ones to check out are the Micheltorena Stairs, the Piano Mural Staircase, and the Mattachine Steps.

Barnsdall Art Park: This property is home to the Hollyhock House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. During the summer, there are also outdoor Friday night wine tastings. 

Little Pine: Little Pine is a 100% vegan Silver Lake restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on the weekends. It’s popular, so be sure to make a reservation.

Pinky’s: Pinky’s is a cocktail bar with a modern tropical vibe that almost makes you feel like you’re in Miami Beach. The bar also has a small taco menu – perfect for a late night snack. 

Best Places to Stay in Los Feliz & Silver Lake

Because this is a fairly residential area, there are only a couple of hotels in Silver Lake and Los Feliz.

Silver Lake Pool and Inn
Image courtesy of Silver Lake Pool & Inn

Silver Lake Pool and Inn is located just steps away from the many cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops on Sunset Boulevard. This California-modern style hotel has 54 guest rooms, which feature rain showers, mini bars stocked with gourmet snacks, and Nespresso machines. On-site, there is a pool, as well as a restaurant and bar.

Note from Matt & Alysha: We have a trip booked here, and can’t wait! It’s a gorgeous property in one of our favorite parts of L.A.

Cara Hotel
Image Courtesy of the Cara Hotel

The Cara Hotel mixes the casual Southern California vibe with luxury. All rooms in this bright and airy hotel overlook the courtyard (which is landscaped with olive trees and palm trees), and some rooms have a private balcony.

This hotel has a restaurant on-site, with seating available in the outside courtyard, as well as a bar and coffee shop.

Hotel Covell

Hotel Covell is a luxury boutique hotel with suites that are made to feel more like (very well-decorated) apartments than traditional hotel rooms. Each of the nine suites have their own unique design style, and they are all equipped with Le Labo amenities, a Smeg refrigerator, and Parachute bedding.

Many of these suites also have a private outdoor deck. The hotel has a wine and beer bar called Bar Covell on-site, which also has an extensive shareable plates menu. 

Culver City: Best Area for Travelers on a Budget

Culver City is about a 20 minute drive inland from the Venice and Marina Del Rey area, so it’s a great option for anyone planning on spending a lot of time at the beach. It’s also a particularly good choice for those trying to figure out where to stay in LA on a budget.

The neighborhood offers easy access to the beach, but there are plenty of hotel options that don’t have those inflated beachside prices. 

The social scene in Culver City has become more active in recent years, with a good selection of popular yet unpretentious restaurants, bars, and cafes. It tends to draw a younger local crowd, thanks to the up-and-coming feel of the neighborhood. 

Pros and Cons of Staying in Culver City

  • Easy Beach Access: You can get from Downtown Culver City to Venice Beach in about 20 minutes. If you’re longing for some beach time during your stay in LA but shudder at the hotel rates closer to the coast, Culver City is a great option!

  • Located By Two Major Highways: Culver City is intersected by the 10 and the 405, which makes getting around town a bit easier. In particular, having such easy access to the 10 is great for those looking to spend time in Downtown LA or Santa Monica, since it leads directly to these areas. 

  • Not Touristy: Thankfully, you won’t have to worry about crowds of tourists in Culver City. The vibe is much more low-key, and you’ll likely be surrounded by more locals over visitors. 
  • Not as Lively as Other Neighborhoods: Culver City has some great restaurants and bars, but in comparison to the other neighborhoods on the list, it’s not quite as lively. There also aren’t any must-see destinations in Culver City beyond eateries and bars, so you’ll spend most of your time sightseeing away from the neighborhood.  

Image Credit: Gerry Boughan / Shutterstock.com

Culver City Highlights

Citizen Public Market: This food hall – which is located in a historic building from the 1920s – houses a variety of excellent food and drink vendors. You can enjoy your food or drink of choice on the rooftop patio to soak in the good LA weather. 

Pasta Sisters: A casual Italian eatery that serves simple yet delicious homemade pasta with your choice of sauce. They also have sandwiches, salads, and additional entrees if you’re not in a pasta mood. 

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream: There are multiple locations of this popular ice cream shop across LA, including the one at Platform, a trendy outdoor shopping center in Culver City. If they’re serving it when you visit, I highly recommend getting a scoop of the vegan Sicilian Pistachio flavor.

Blind Barber: This speakeasy-style bar is hidden behind an actual barber shop. Enjoy a seasonal cocktail or a glass of wine or beer alongside one of their famous grilled cheeses.

Bigfoot West: This cozy whiskey bar transports you from busy LA to a log cabin out in the woods. There are tons of whiskey options, but they have plenty of choices for the non-whiskey drinkers, too. 

Sony Pictures: You can book a tour of the lot, but if you just want that classic studio gate photo, be sure to stop by one of the entrances on Culver Boulevard or Madison Avenue

Best Places to Stay in Culver City

Here are some recommendations for hotels in and around Culver City.

Palihotel Culver City
Image courtesy of Palihotel Culver City

The trendy Palihotel Culver City (which is located in Downtown Culver City) was recently renovated by a developer who updated the original 1920s boarding house while still maintaining its original art deco and bohemian influences.

On-site, there is an indoor-outdoor French-inspired restaurant and bar, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are 49 rooms in this boutique hotel, some of which open onto a courtyard. 

The Culver Hotel
Image Credit: Let Go Media / Shutterstock.com

The Culver Hotel is located in Downtown Culver City, in a 1920s flatiron building that has a classic, elegant feel with modern and eclectic artistic touches.

The hotel has multiple dining and bar options (both indoors and outdoors), and has an afternoon tea service. There are rooms and suites available, and all options come with complimentary breakfast. 

Hilton Los Angeles, Culver City

This Hilton Hotel is located on the western side of Culver City, and is conveniently just a 10-minute drive from LAX airport. There is an outdoor pool and fitness center at this contemporary hotel, as well as a restaurant and bar serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There are both rooms and suites available, with the option to upgrade to higher floor accommodations. It’s nothing terribly special, but it’s budget-friendly, which is why it’s on this list.

A Quick LA Geography Overview

If you’ve never visited Los Angeles, there are two key things you need to know: Los Angeles is big, and yes, the traffic can be as bad as you’ve heard.

With these things in mind, it is crucial that you consider exactly what you want to do in Los Angeles before deciding which neighborhood to stay in. 

It’s not impossible to get from, for example, Pasadena (inland) to Santa Monica (on the coast) for the day. However, you’ll want to stay closer to the majority of your activities to limit the amount of time you spend in the car.

The layout of Los Angeles is a bit different than some other cities, because there isn’t really one central hub. LA is a collection of different neighborhoods, each with their own unique characteristics, personalities, and offerings. That means that all the Los Angeles points of interest aren’t centralized to one area. 

Of course, this means picking the best places to stay in Los Angeles can get a bit complicated. That said, if you take into account the top spots you want to check out, you’ll be able to settle on a neighborhood that works for you. 

Where NOT to Stay in Los Angeles

There are a few areas that you’ll want to steer clear of when it comes to staying in Los Angeles.

If you take a look at a map, in a very general sense, the most exciting destinations that you’ll want to check out are located within the areas from Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica/Venice on the east and west, and Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire on the north and south. With that in mind, you’ll want to stay as close as possible to these areas.

Outside of the City Center

Some of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the areas mentioned above are still fine places to stay, but you want to avoid straying too far away.

Staying in Malibu, Redondo Beach, Pasadena, or far north in the San Fernando Valley likely won’t be the best options, as you’ll spend a lot of time in the car. Of course, use your own judgement here – if you plan to spend your entire trip surfing and hiking in Malibu, then by all means, stay in Malibu!


Another area to avoid staying in is Hollywood. The image that people have in their head of Hollywood is a lot different than the reality of it. The center of Hollywood gets incredibly crowded with tourists – especially during the summer – and it definitely doesn’t have the “glamorous” feel that a lot of people associate with it. On the outskirts of Hollywood, there are just apartments and homes – nothing too exciting.  

That said, if you want to see some of the key tourist spots in the area (like the Walk of Fame or the Chinese Theater), you should do so. There are also some really great bars and restaurants in the area. Hollywood is pretty central, so chances are you’ll pass through it plenty of times anyway. 

However, there are a lot of other neighborhoods that are more walkable, much more peaceful to stay in, and feel far less like a tourist trap. Stay in one of those neighborhoods, and then just visit Hollywood for a bit if you’d like. 

West Hollywood, on the other hand, makes a great home base thanks to its central location, which we’ll get to in a second.

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