As a front-runner for the title of America’s most expansive city, Los Angeles can seem daunting from a distance. You’ll need a car, yes, but you don’t need to have been born here to know your way around. Read on for our neighborhood-by-neighborhood breakdown — and the hotels to remember them by.
The swank drips from every surface, to be sure, but the surfaces themselves luxuriate in a pristine blend of rustic-chic architecture, with many a plaza and fountain to catch one’s wind. Go ahead, be one of the beautiful people.
Cipriani’s the full surname, if you were wondering, and the restaurant most certainly lives up to the moniker. Classic glamour informs the décor throughout — monochrome film stills, expansive views — and the poolside scene in particular deserves special mention for its heights of old-school cabana hospitality.
This stretch of the titular boulevard is more of a winding mountain road than a neon-lit artery, which fits right in with the Luxe’s aesthetic: though unquestionably sleek, it tends more towards earth-tone self-care than hard-rock excess. Restore your balance in these spacious, comfort-forward rooms, then relax completely at the full-service spa.
For sheer luxury, it’s tough to match this Raffles venture: an impossibly delicate lacquer box of chocolates, two varieties of bathrobe, your own cell phone, and perhaps the city’s most sophisticated computerized room sensors. Jack Naderkhani, a legend in his own right, lives on as general manager, so rest assured that you’ll be in what many consider the very best hands.
Another Starck masterpiece, this hotel breaks the mold with a thoroughly contemporary mindset: two pools, six private cabanas, a truly massive and bleeding-edge fitness center, and a chemist’s array of molecular-gastronomy gizmos in the kitchen. Despite its enduring popularity with the hip set, though, they don’t budge an inch on the comfort and privacy necessary for an extraordinary night’s sleep.
The newly resurgent downtown district boasts more than enough civic beauty to justify its fresh crop of designer hotels. Iconic eateries rub shoulders with dressy velvet-ropers, museums, massive concert halls, and renovated loft residences. Like the best urban cores, it’s a bustling microcosm.
The LINE pretty much single-handedly put Koreatown on the traveler’s map. Keenly chic without needless (or wallet-gouging) swagger, this homegrown effort pumps lifeblood into its neighborhood, attracting locals and sojourners alike with a speakeasy, a greenhouse-style restaurant, the requisite pool, and runaway smash hit Korean-fusion restaurant Pot.
Time for some history: far from a flash in the pan, this century-old Walker & Eisen building is back in action thanks to a Twenties-revival interior overhaul. Revel in the nostalgia at one of several throwback eateries, then throw back a few classic cocktails at the Normandie Club, “a damn fine hotel bar.”
Fittingly, this all-star hotel brand chose the former United Artists Tower for its L.A. headquarters, a gesture in keeping with their own indie-to-mainstream success story. The salvage-forward interiors play off nearly every glitzy decade of the city’s past, an eclectically tasteful jamboree that does much to ease the neighborhood’s growing pains. And yes, they’ve preserved that grand old dame of a theatre — catch a show if you can.
The Standard Downtown ties together of few of this article’s themes: another Standard, yes, but also another second-act building (formerly the Superior Oil company), another plush 24-hour restaurant, and another hit rooftop bar. The latter comes not only with Astro-Turf but waterbed loungers, red-suited waitresses, and a truly ogle-worthy panorama.
Tinseltown itself! True, it’s the first thing that springs to mind for most first-timers, but that doesn’t diminish its star power one bit. It isn’t all Sunset Boulevard, either — savvy visitors should avoid the tourist magnets and seek out the vibrant café, gallery, and farmer’s-market scene.
Chaplin, that is, whose predilection for English country houses finds an echo in these charmingly named cottages (Marlene, Marilyn, Valentino…). Warm, lush, and well-furnished, these characters are just waiting for adventurous guests to try them on.
Vintage L.A. insouciance at its sunglasses-at-night finest, this cheeky ex-motel lathers on the kitsch. The pool comes couched in Astro-Turf, to give you an idea of the vibe — not to mention the Warhol-print curtains and the house-brand condoms. Get your retro on at the 24-hour diner, then loosen up at the neo-disco lounge to the tune-slinging of live DJs.
Of course, this being L.A., airtight privacy is an obsession unto itself, and the Sunset Marquis delivers in spades. Thanks to the soundproofing, you’d hardly guess that there’s an on-site, state-of-the-art recording studio. And thanks to Bar 1200’s ultra-strict door policy, celeb-chasers won’t be spoiling your perfectly poured Old Fashioned.
A Philippe Starck import from France, this iteration of the smash-hit creatives’ boutique arrived just in time to receive the mass migration of jaded ex-Brooklynites. The reasonable price point belies benefits both tangible (in-room iMacs) and in- (area attractions include Amoeba Music and the Arclight Cinema).
L.A.’s beaches are a mixed lot, but by no means a wash. As long as you know the water conditions and keep an eye on the crowds, there’s plenty of sun and surf to go around. Of course, when you’re checked into a beachfront hotel with a rooftop pool of its own, you can hardly be blamed for skipping all that bother.
Venice Beach’s dog-eared charm has had its way with this building; once a flophouse and a gang hideout, it’s been given new life by a pair of moonlighting photographers as an airy, contemporary boutique hotel. They’re refreshingly hands-off here, which more than suits the harried guest after some quality shut-eye and Blue Bottle coffee come sunrise.
Manhattan Beach has come some way since its humble beginnings, which fact Shade recognizes with its Christopher Lowell interiors — more haute-boutique than beach-bum, they’re ready and waiting for today’s crop of discretionary spenders. And its owner, restaurateur Michael Zislis, ensures that the plates and potables match the interiors every step of the way.
This gorgeous hotel sets the bar for Santa Monica beach hotels, blessed with views from every room and a powerfully relaxing vibe in every design decision. Ocean-gazers will love the patio seating, workaholics will love the whirlpool baths with a view, and nostalgia junkies will love the West-Coast-cool Fifties jazz café.
Here’s another edge-softener. For true L.A. grit, look elsewhere: this boutique retreat takes its oceanfront views with sunny color, mellow public spaces, and palatial, jacuzzi-equipped suites. Somehow warm and chill at the same time.
In the age of TL:DR, sometimes a long-winded survey won’t cut it. Here are your Benchmarks, your Unmissables, your Must-Stays — book with one of these and the neighborhood steps back into a supporting role.
The interiors here are something else entirely, and they sound as if they shouldn’t work: turn-of-the-century country-house British soul meets clean-lined modernism, accessorized with kelly-green antique-style furnishings, printed wallpaper, and exquisite china on the walls. Not to worry, you won’t be schoolmarmed; for all the sophistication, the Italian linens and balconies prove that comfort wins at the end of the day.
Somehow the hardest-rocking hotel on Sunset is also a bit of a storybook romance, constructed in every detail to match the 18th-century Loire Chateau Amboise (think Gothic vaulted ceilings, ivy-strewn fluted pillars, and the like). What’s more, it’s haunted, not only (purportedly) by stars of eras past but by the current generation as well. You can’t really blame them, given its dual reputation for uncompromising privacy and Golden-Age glamour.
The staff here are famous for accommodating the most outlandish requests: a 17-minute wedding for Reagan’s daughter, tracking down a 1962 sixpence coin, etc. Even if you’re a low-maintenance guest, don’t skip the restaurant — besides mouth-watering cuisine, it boasts resident swans, a divinely scented herb garden, and heated terra-cotta flooring.
Once an Art Deco apartment tower, this mid-century gem housed the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra. These days, it’s a welcome escape from Sunset Strip excess, offering classic elegance at the on-site bar and restaurant as well as a full suite of day-spa services.
Want more on L.A.? Check out our lits of the Top 10 Boutique Hotels in Los Angeles.