Planning to visit LA? Are you wondering where to stay in Los Angeles? This guide breaks down which is the best area to stay in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis of glitter and palm trees that attracts artists, visionaries and hopeless romantics hoping to live the Southern California dream.
California’s largest city also happens to be the heart of the Hollywood entertainment industry. The famed Hollywood Sign nested high into the Hollywood Hills ensures that visitors never lose sight of the fact that they’re walking among cinema royalty.
However, there is also a hidden Los Angeles tucked away in vibrant neighborhoods or paths that cut into the canyons of the Santa Monica mountains. It all makes the decision of where to stay in Los Angeles all the more interesting!
An itinerary for a Los Angeles vacation can fill up pretty quickly. Visitors with stars in their eyes have a lot of ground to cover between attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Rodeo Drive.
In addition, magical places like TCL Chinese Theatre, Venice Beach and the Griffith Observatory make it easy to get swept up in La La Land. That may leave you wondering where the best place to stay in Los Angeles can be found.
Take a look at the best neighborhoods to stay in while getting the full Los Angeles experience!
10 Best Areas to Stay in Los Angeles
1. Hollywood, the best area to stay in Los Angeles
There really is cinema magic on every corner when you stay in Hollywood. The first stop is Hollywood Boulevard to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Next up is a whirlwind day of sightseeing that will bring you to spots like the TCL Chinese Theatre, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, the Guinness World Records Museum, the Magic Castle and Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
This is also a place to find tons of restaurants and souvenir shops. What’s more, big personalities and celebrity impersonators bring the streets of Hollywood to life.
In addition to some high-profile resorts, Hollywood offers a nice amount of budget motels and inns. Hollywood is one of the best places to stay in Los Angeles
2. West Hollywood, great for nightlife
Home of the Sunset Strip and Chateau Marmont, West Hollywood is the playground for celebrities and paparazzi looking for excitement from Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose. In fact, you can consider West Hollywood the nightlife epicenter of Los Angeles.
West Hollywood’s prestige is largely owned to the fact that it’s bounded by Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills.
The list of celebrity hangouts and beautiful attractions located within West Hollywood include the Comedy Store, Sierra Towers and Saint Victor Catholic Church. You can also fit in some shopping at the world-class West Hollywood Gateway Project.
It can be a real treat to explore the neighborhoods of Fountain Avenue, Harper Avenue and Havenhurst Drive to enjoy Spanish Revival and Art Deco homes designed by famous architects from the 1920s.
These leafy streets have been called home by stars and legends like Frank Sinatra, John Wane, the Gabor sisters, Howard Hughes and many more.
One of the big advantages of staying in West Hollywood is that it is one of the most walkable portions of Los Angeles. In fact, locals refer to the area as “Walkable WeHo.”
When looking for public transit, West Hollywood’s Cityline and PickUp Line are great options for getting to hot spots or stops on the Metro Red Line.
3. Beverly Hills, where to stay in Los Angeles for luxury
It’s a well-known fact that Beverly Hills is celebrity central. In fact, Hollywood’s richest have called estates tucked into the luxurious canyons of Beverly Hills home for since Tinsel Town’s golden era.
Notable estates like Greystone Mansion, Greenacres and Misty Mountain stand out as must-see properties. In fact, public Greystone Manor has been used as a filming location for dozens of films and television shows throughout the past 40 years.
Generally, Beverly Hills is more of a residential spot than a tourist area. However, there is plenty of glitter to soak up as you drive up winding roads full of mansions belonging to the rich and famous or window shop on Rodeo Drive.
One only needs to look at the nightly rates for an iconic spot like the Beverly Wilshire Hotel to realize that this isn’t the neighborhood for budget-friendly accommodations.
Getting around Beverly Hills without a car can also be a bit tricky. The wide boulevards and winding gated communities of Beverly Hills are better suited for fast Ferraris than they are for pedestrians.
Beverly Hills does not have any metro stops. However, anyone looking for an easy workaround can pick up the 704 Rapid bus at the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire to get to Union Station.
4. Downtown LA, central located and good nightlife
Downtown LA (DTLA) is the place to stay in LA if you simply want to be in the heart of it all.
While there was a time when downtown was seen as a bit “dead” in terms of businesses and restaurants, there has been a major transformation over the last 20 years. It is now very “cool” to hang out at shops, clubs, bars and restaurants here.
The big advantage to staying in DTLA is that you’re getting quick access to public transit links. This is important because Los Angeles is impossible to “do by foot” simply because everything is so spread out.
Someone coming from a city like Chicago or Boston may not be able to comprehend just how unfriendly to pedestrians Los Angeles can be. However, that doesn’t have to be a problem.
The Red Line from downtown places you just 25 minutes from Hollywood. You can also get to Santa Monica pretty easily via the Expo Line. It works out really nicely if you won’t have access to a car while staying in California because you won’t be constantly paying for Uber lifts or taxis.
While there’s no doubt you’ll be venturing to other portions of the city, you should also focus on a hyper-local itinerary of the best DTLA attractions.
Be sure to mark down the Oue Skyspace Observation Deck, Grand Central Market, the Grammy Museum, LA Live and the Stanley Alley Flea Market to have a really vibrant, colorful downtown experience. Little Tokyo is also located within DTLA.
While you’ll notice some very high-profile five-star hotels in view while cruising through DTLA, there are plenty of cheaper accommodations and hostels catering to backpackers who prefer long days of sightseeing over lazy spa mornings.
5. Westwood, nice place to stay in Los Angeles for backpackers
Westwood is a bustling hub where Los Angeles culture and the rest of the world intertwine to create an amazing place for shopping, dining and entertainment.
Much of Westwood’s personality is owed to the fact that it is home to the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
One of the most distinctly “Westwood” experiences you can have is to catch a flick at the famed Fox Theater. Dating back to the 1930s, the theater has hosted many iconic movie premiers throughout the years.
Don’t be surprised to see a red carpet rolled out if you happen to pass the theater on a weekend. Art lovers have every reason to visit Westwood’s Hammer Museum. This free museum features an impeccably curated collection featuring works by Degas and Monet.
While on a museum spree, hit the Fowler Museum within the UCLA campus to see eclectic, world-class exhibits from artists throughout Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Some of Westwood’s other notable attractions include the Murphy Sculpture Garden, the Geffen Playhouse, the Thursday Farmers’ Market on Broxton, the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens and the Planetarium at UCLA.
Of course, you can’t tour the neighborhoods around UCLA without lining up along with students, faculty and locals to enjoy a world-famous ice-cream sandwich from iconic Diddy Riese.
Westwood is one of the more connected parts of Los Angeles in terms of public transportation. The city offers three major public transit bus systems offering access to the areas in and around UCLA and Westwood Village.
You can also jump on Los Angeles Metro lines 2, 20, 302 and 305. Westwood’s “college town” vibe makes it a less intimidating place to stay than some of the city’s Hollywood-centric parts.
It’s a nice place to stay in Los Angeles for backpackers or hostel seekers because there’s slightly more range beyond luxury hotels.
6. Santa Monica, where to stay in Los Angeles for families
Nothing embodies Southern California quite like watching a Pacific sunset settle over the bustling crowds and twinkling lights of Santa Monica Pier. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, this beach city is bordered by Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, West Los Angeles and Mar Vista.
Some of the best shopping in all of SoCal can be found right here. Head to Montana Avenue if you’re looking for boutique shops and trendy restaurants. By contrast, Santa Monica’s Main Street District is the place to go for more eclectic shops and restaurants.
The lively Third Street Promenade is an outdoor, pedestrian-only shopping district covering three blocks out to Wilshire Boulevard. If views are your thing, Palisades Park is a lovely expanse set upon crumbling bluffs overlooking the Pacific that should not be missed.
Show up to take some amazing photos in front of public art and totem poles. Of course, you can’t show up in Santa Monica without zipping over to the famed Pacific Park amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier.
Games, rides, the historic Looff Hippodrome Carousel and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium offer fun for all ages!
Santa Monica is one of the best spots to cover by bike in the Los Angeles area. In fact, the city has a bike action plan with a bicycle-sharing system. It is also one of the rare cities to allow scooter-sharing companies to operate!
There are a few interesting points to know when planning how to travel in and around Santa Monica. As you may know, the Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10) that begins in Santa Monica near the Pacific Ocean is one of the busiest highway stretches in all of North America.
For those seeking public transport, the Big Blue Bus serves Santa Monica and most of West Los Angeles. Travelers can also pick up rides at Santa Monica Metro stations like 26th Street/Bergamot, 17th Street/Santa Monica College and Downtown Santa Monica.
Staying in Santa Monica is a great idea for anyone looking to fold a real beach vacation into a visit to Los Angeles. It is a great place for families.
The city also has a good number of low-cost and mid-level hotels when compared to other parts of Los Angeles.
7. LAX, accommodation near Los Angeles Airport
For some travelers bound for the West Coast, staying as close to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as possible is paramount. LAX is actually located 18 miles southwest of Downtown Los Angeles in a neighborhood called Westchester.
In addition to being the home of LAX, Westchester is also home to Loyola Marymount University and Otis College of Art and Design.
While there are no hotels attached to LAX, you’ll find multiple hotels that are just a short shuttle ride away from LAX that go for a shockingly low rate per night.
The reason is that Los Angeles is one of the only cities where there is low demand for airport hotels. The big reason for this is that the neighborhoods surrounding the airport mostly consist of big warehouses related to the airline industry.
8. Chinatown, affordable accommodation
Chinatown is one of the most affordable and eclectic options if you’re looking for a place to stay in Los Angeles.
One of the best things about staying in Chinatown is that you’ll be immersed in an authentic residential neighborhood. That can be hard to come by in a city that’s known for being a bit “plastic.”
Expect a wonderful, interesting collection of restaurants, shops and art galleries that come to life even more when annual events like the Chinese New Year Parade, the Lantern Festival at the Chinese American Museum and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival are in town.
Chinatown is also where multiple iconic films like “Chinatown” and “Rush Hour” were filmed. Of course, the best part about picking Chinatown when deciding where to stay in Los Angeles is that everything here is just a short walking distance to Metro Rail’s Gold Line.
9. Venice Beach, where to stay in Los Angeles on a budget and great beach experience
No spot will do quite like Venice Beach if you’re looking for a “California beach party” vibe during your upcoming trip to the Golden State. Venice beach is a beachfront neighborhood with an ultra-rare, incomparable urban/coastal personality.
Venice Beach transports visitors to a resort world filled with canals, beach walks and a world-famous promenade filled with artists and vendors.
Of course, people from around the world come to Venice Beach strictly to surf. The Venice Breakwater is an acclaimed local surf spot in Venice. Sheltered by an artificial barrier, the Venice Breakwater is a great place to catch waves in front of a crowd.
Venice Beach is also a place where artistic hearts can run free. The Venice Beach boardwalk area is famed for its vibrant murals. In addition, dozens of movies ranging from “The Doors” to “White Men Can’t Jump” were largely filmed in Venice.
Do find your way to Washington Boulevard toward the canal-lined Venice Canal Historic District to see a web of properties separated by pedestrian bridges.
Of course, a Venice holiday gets its oomph from visits to Venice Boardwalk and Muscle Beach to see the crowds and spectacles that make Venice Venice.
If you’re looking for something posh, escape to Abbot Kinney Boulevard for high-end shops, restaurants and bars.
Looking to get in some miles in the sun while burning calories? Act like the locals by walking, running or biking the Ocean Front Walk starting at Venice Fishing Pier.
While Venice isn’t a terribly convenient spot if your main goal is to have easy access to multiple parts of Los Angeles, it should be a top consideration when searching for places to stay in Los Angeles because it is an enduring tourist favorite.
You can get between Venice Beach and other parts of Los Angeles most easily using Culver City Bus Lines, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and 333 Metro Bus. A number of motels and mid-level hotels make Venice a reasonable place to stay when traveling with a budget in mind.
Classy, serene Pasadena is where California dreams come true. This is a great option if you’re looking for a place where to stay in Los Angeles that shuns the fanfare of Hollywood for the quieter San Gabriel Valley.
Of course, that’s not to say that Pasadena necessarily allows itself to be outshined by its flashier Los Angeles neighbors. This city is the home of the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade.
In addition, it is the home of Caltech, Fuller Theological Seminary, ArtCenter College of Design and the Pasadena Playhouse. Do take time to savor the grounds of the esteemed Norton Simon Museum to take in an extensive sculpture garden, European paintings and Southeast Asian sculptures.
The Pasadena Museum of History, the Pacific Asia Museum and the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens are also great picks for cultural experiences.
Pasadena is also famed for its estates. Among the properties to swoon over in Pasadena are the Gamble House, the Tournament House of the Wrigley family and the Bissell estate.
It’s fairly easy to glide from Pasadena into deeper Los Angeles by using the 31-mile Gold Line running through East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. The Pasadena Area Rapid Transit System (ARTS) is the city’s local bus service.
Choosing Where to Stay in Los Angeles
It’s clear that Los Angeles represents a landscape full of worlds within worlds. While many of us can’t separate visions of Hollywood celebrities and mansions stilted on honey-colored canyons from our ideas of Los Angeles, this is actually a diverse collection of communities.
Picking a single city or neighborhood to stay in doesn’t require you to write off other parts of Los Angeles because a healthy network of trains and bus routes means that it’s really possible to get anywhere with just a little bit of extra planning.
Of course, a car rental is preferred if you can swing it because you’ll get the enjoyment of cruising down boulevards and coastal highways to get between destinations!