Where to stay in Los Angeles: The best neighborhoods to base your visit in

If you have no idea where to stay in Los Angeles, we got you. Here are the trendiest neighborhoods, hotels and sights.

Michael JulianoEdited by Michael JulianoFriday March 17 2023

L.A. is a sprawling, hugely varied place, which can make deciding on where to stay in Los Angeles a difficult task. You could go all out with a plush hotel by the beach, or opt for a more affordable budget hotel and save those extra dollars for increasingly costly cocktails. You could stay in the midst of the action of Hollywood’s famous attractions, or get as far away as possible and find the real L.A. If you’re struggling to decide, we’ve taken some of the guesswork out of where to stay in Los Angeles with these five neighborhoods, including Downtown’s most talked-about area and a vibrant beachside ‘hood. We’ve even called out which areas can be reached by the L.A. Metro—so that infamous L.A. traffic won’t clog up your trip.

Where to stay in Los Angeles

Venice

Photograph: Shutterstock/View Apart

Venice

Long known as L.A.’s disheveled but beautifully bohemian enclave, the beachfront neighborhood of Venice has been (somewhat) transformed in recent years with the arrival of farm-to-fork foodies and tech-industry titans. There’s the most happening at the end of Venice Boulevard on the pedestrianized Ocean Front Walk more famously known as the Venice Boardwalk; the fancy fashion boutiques and relaxed but refined casual eateries along Abbot Kinney Boulevard; and the low-key dining scene Rose Avenue a few blocks inland. There’s no train service here but Metro does offer a bike share system.

Venice may come across as a bit too grungy for some travelers’ tastes, so if you’re looking for a more polished experience we’d suggest heading just up the coast to Santa Monica. There’s a ton to explore on foot in the upscale coastal city (and it’s Metro accessible) but it doesn’t have quite the same laid-back vibe as Venice.

EAT

Get your day off to a good start at Gjusta, the hugely popular bakery renowned for folding fresh fruit slices into sugar-glazed dough. Temple to authentic, handmade pasta Felix Trattoria dishes out perfectly al dente handiwork alongside small plates and great pizzas; make sure you get there early for the papperdelle, it’s so good, it’s usually all gone well before the end of the night.

DRINK

Lose yourself in an L.A. sunset with a drink firmly in hand at Hotel Erwin’s High Rooftop Lounge, a primo patio overlooking the Pacific, then finish off your day with a nightcap at Gran Blanco, a breezy natural wine hangout underneath the VENICE sign.

DO

Stroll along the Venice Canals from which the neighborhood gets its name and take in the beautiful scenes along the water—from arching pedestrian bridges and charming beach houses to bunches of ducklings and the occasional paddle boarder.

STAY

The Venice Beach House is a historic, ivy-covered craftsman-style inn that dates back to 1911. That rich sense of history doesn’t get in the way of modern comforts though, with each of the nine rooms beautifully and individually decorated with all the amenities you’d expect. There’s a range of options and prices, from a shared bathroom all the way up to an extravagant suite with its own private entrance looking out across the ocean.

If you do just one thing…

We’ll second our recommendation of the Venice Canals, but if you really want a unique perspective, scope them out by boat. Though you won’t find boat rentals anywhere along the canals, you can bring your own non-motorized vessel to tour the neighborhood at water level (enter via the launch ramp at Venice Boulevard).

West Hollywood

Photograph: Michael Juliano

West Hollywood

The swanky shopping plazas, tree-lined streets and billboard-daubed high-rises of West Hollywood conjure up more of a sense of Hollywood glamour than Tinseltown itself. Probably best known for the once gritty, now gentrified Sunset StripWest Hollywood (or WeHo for short) is a vibrant, forward thinking place where you’ll find some of Southern California’s most eclectic nightlife scenes. To get there, you’ll need to go by car but the colourful gay bars on Santa Monica and the world-famous clubs on Sunset Boulevard are best explored on foot.

EAT

Scenic Wolfgang Puck spot Merois offers by far the best meal among WeHo’s glitzy hotel restaurants. Vegan eatery Gracis Madre is a cross between Palm Springs casual and Mexican chic, with a bright, airy setting. Go for the guacamole and the sopes con piña, two masa cakes piled high with pineapple salsa.

DRINK

Melrose Umbrella Co. channels the bad old days, with well-crafted cocktails suited for the end of Prohibition. The Roger Room is small, but the drinks pack a punch, with more than 20 classic tipples with a twist.

DO

Explore the stunning modernist Schindler House, where the MAK Center for Art & Architecture has its home. Or swing by the storied Troubadour, an intimate club where up-and-comers share the stage with singer-songwriter icons.

STAY

Petit Ermitage is a magical bohemian getaway that pairs thrift store furnishings with luxe dining, soothing spa services and some seriously romantic rooftop views of the Hollywood Hills.

If you do just one thing…

Laugh your evening away at the world famous Comedy Store, a dim dive of a comedy club where you’re almost certain to see stand-up legends and sitcom stars any night of the week.

Koreatown

Photograph: Courtesy the Line

Koreatown

This tightly packed, 24/7 city center has balanced Art Deco history with a 21st-century building boom that’s transformed Koreatown into one of L.A.’s most exciting neighborhoods. From Korean BBQ joints to raucous karaoke bars, most of Koreatown’s best spots are spread out across the area, but along Wilshire Boulevard between Vermont and Western Avenues is where you’ll find the most going on. Sixth Street in particular has a dense stretch of bars and restaurants packed in. The area is well served by Metro’s D Line (Purple), so skip the hassle of street parking and allow yourself to imbibe a steady stream of soju in one of L.A.’s most vibrant neighborhoods.

EAT

For KBBQ, try Daedo Sikdang, a pared-down homage to South Korea’s hanu beef where the helpful staff will guide you through the meal. On the other hand, Guelaguetza is Koreatown’s most memorable restaurant, but you won’t find bimbimbap or galbi here. This place serves incredible Oaxacan food—the rich black mole-topped tamales—as well as its tlayudas, pizza-like corn cakes, that are phenomenal.

DRINK

The best place to flick soju bottle caps and chat over anju (Korean bar bites) with friends in L.A., Dan Sung Sa is a quintessential Koreatown drinking spot with wood panel interiors, dim lighting and no-nonsense service.

DO

The massive, 24-hour spa Wi Spa is the Disneyland of Koreatown saunas, featuring hot tubs, treatment rooms, dry and steam saunas, a restaurant, sleeping rooms and the co-ed-friendly jimjilbang.

STAY

With expansive floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a incredible view of the city, a greenhouse-enclosed restaurant (Openaire) and a karaoke bar by the Houston Brothers (Break Room 86), the Line Hotel lives and breathes Los Angeles.

If you do just one thing…

Share slices of melt-in-the-mouth Kobe-style beef with friends at Park’s BBQ, K-town’s undisputed KBBQ king.

Los Feliz

Photograph: Courtesy Big Bar/Eugene Lee

Los Feliz

Edged by Griffith Park to the north, Los Feliz has a cozy, evergreen-lined hillside and unique charm. Back down towards the flats, the eateries and shops that run along both Hillhurst and Vermont Avenues have a more casual and comfortable feel than nearby Hollywood without the increasingly-luxuriously hip vibe found in its neighbors Echo Lake and Silver Park. Metro’s B Line (Red) runs all the way to the southern edge of Los Feliz, where you can also jump onboard a DASH bus to the Observatory. Oh, and FYI: It’s pronounced Los FEE-lisz.

EAT

The unofficial living room of the neighborhood, Little Dom’s has stayed bustling for breakfast, lunch and dinner over the past 15 years (swing by for its three-course Monday night suppers). Kismet is jam packed with brilliant Turkish and Mediterranean-inspired shareables and snacks—the shakshuka, broccolli toast and fantastically flakey bread and dips are all great choices.

DRINK

Take a seat in the idyllic twinkle-lit courtyard at Big Bar and sample from a selection of playful but unfussy perfectly concocted cocktails.

DO

Stop off at the bright and airy Skylight Books and search through the independent store’s thoughtfully curated staff picks for some mind stretching reading material. Peruse an always different assortment of pop culture at Soap Plant Wacko and its adjoining gallery La Luz de Jesus. Then catch an early evening matinee in the Egyptian style Vista Theatre (now under the ownership of Quentin Tarantino, though it’s yet to reopen from its renovations).

STAY

Hotel Covell, a five-room boutique hotel located above Bar Covell. Each room conjures a different phase in a fictional, well-heeled traveler’s life—think a humble Midwestern bedroom, New York in the ’50s and a Parisian love nest. There’s no pool or gym, but amenities come in other forms: an attentive concierge, an intimate rooftop deck and miraculously soundproof rooms.

If you do just one thing…

Climb atop Barnsdall Art Park’s lonely hill to take a self-guided tour of the 1921, Mayan-inflected Hollyhock House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first California construction.

 

Arts District

Photograph: Courtesy Alejandro Marin

Arts District

Downtown’s Arts District has adorned its historic warehouse aesthetic with vibrant murals and sidewalk seating. The neighborhood was once a stronghold for local artists, but has now become home to handsome coffee shops, bespoke boutiques and a mix of bar bites and fine dining. Even as its profile rises and rises, the Arts District still adeptly mines its under-the-radar roots. The area can be a bit of a transit black hole—Metro’s L Line (Gold) stops on the very western edge, while parking is often tight on weekends—but the neighborhood’s closest thing to a center, the intersection of 3rd Street and Traction Avenue, is quite walkable. Though the rest of Downtown L.A. may offer more transit connections and cultural landmarks, we think the Arts District makes for a considerably cooler home base.

EAT

To say that you’ll need a reservation for Bestia is an understatement, but the wait is worth it for this thoughtful, ingredient-driven Italian menu. We also love LA Cha Cha Chá’s open-air taste of Mexico City. For a sweet treat, the original Pie Hole location serves exceptional slices of Mexican chocolate and Earl Grey recipes.

DRINK

The bustling, bright interior and twinkle-lit patio at Everson Royce Bar are both perfect settings for its refined cocktails—and seriously delicious burgers. The Arts District is also home to a growing number of craft breweries (including Angel City Brewery, Arts District Brewing Co. and Flying Embers).

DO

International art gallery Hauser & Wirth boasts a museum-caliber collection of contemporary art and modern masters, housed in a former flour mill. Sit down for dinner at Manuela, the rustic-chic complex’s Southern-inspired restaurant.

STAY

The Arts District has somehow largely eluded hotel developments other than Soho Warehouse, an outpost of the members-only club that’s open to the public for hotel stays. Otherwise, booking an Airbnb stay in a luxury loft is your best bet. If you’re looking for more conventional hotel accommodations, the Doubletree on the border of Little Tokyo is only about three blocks away.

If you do just one thing…

Indulge your inner foodie at Smorgasburg LA. The ROW DTLA market is the Arts District’s go-to destination on Sundays for its hotbed of fantastic food and retail vendors.

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