Posted: 9/2/21 | September 2nd, 2021
Los Angeles conjures up a lot of images and feelings. It’s a sprawling metropolis made up of dozens of eclectic neighborhoods. You have the coastal towns of Santa Monica and Venice, Hollywood, West Hollywood, posh Beverley Hills, hipster Silver Lake, and the revitalized downtown area.
Which makes planning a trip to LA a bit complicated.
In this sprawling city, where traffic is king, it can be hard to figure out where to stay so you aren’t always stuck in traffic and are near the major sights.
Usually, when I am in LA, for an extended period of time, I’ll bounce around a little but, when you’re on a short trip, that’s not always possible.
So let me break down some neighborhoods to help you plan your next trip to the City of Angels and offer some suggestions on where to stay in each spot.
But, before I get into the specific neighborhoods and recommended places to stay while there, let me answer some of the most common questions I get asked:
What is the best neighborhood in Los Angeles for budget travelers?
Venice Beach. It’s attractive, fun, and affordable.
What is the best neighborhood for to spot celebrities?
Beverly Hills, the original home of the rich and the famous (and the famously rich) is your best bet to get a selfie with an A-lister.
What is the best neighborhood in LA for partying?
Los Feliz and its adjacent neighborhoods Silver Lake and Echo Park are strewn with hipster dive bars that allow for a night of fun bar crawling. That said, you can find a party everywhere in Los Angeles.
What is the best neighborhood, overall?
Los Angeles doesn’t really have a center, but West Hollywood is about as central as you can get. It’s bustling with action, there’s plenty to see, and from here you’re a relatively short ride to the beach, Downtown, Beverly Hills, and other attractions.
So, with those questions answered, here’s a breakdown of each neighborhood with suggested accommodation for each:
Los Angeles Neighborhood Overview
Best Neighborhood for Luxury: Beverly Hills
These two words—“Beverly Hills” are known in even the most remote parts of the planet. Synonymous with rich and famous, Beverly Hills boasts some of the world’s poshest hotels, the fanciest restaurants on the planet, and some major league gawking at all the six-figure automobiles cruising the wide roads and the mansion-flanked streets.
And then there’s Rodeo Drive: studded with some of the most expensive shops and boutiques in the world, this street (it’s really an area) has been emulated in posh neighborhoods around the globe. If you want to feel like a wealthy celeb, this is the place to do it.
Best Places to Stay in Beverly Hills
- BUDGET: Hotel del Flores – Cheap accommodation in Beverly Hills? Good luck! But this simple property, located smack in the center of the area, is a good bet. Rodeo Drive is just a short walk away for when you want to get an eyeful of the one percent.
- MID-RANGE: Sixty Beverly Hills – The 250-square-foot rooms here are comfortable enough that you’ll want to hang out in the room a bit. There are upscale products in the bathrooms and handsome hardwood floors. The property also has a gym and a swimming pool that just screams “California!”
- LUXURY: Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills – It’s hard to get more lux than this. Anchored on the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards, the hotel is the epitome of lush. Each guest room has its own concierge assigned to it. The 12th-floor rooftop is the place to be, either at the pool or sipping a cocktail at the swanky Jean-George-run lounge.
Best Neighborhood for Budget Travelers: Venice Beach
Venice Beach, named because, like its Italian namesake, is strewn with canals, is the beach destination in LA for visitors. There are miles of wide sandy beaches for sunworshippers and surfers. And then there’s the famous promenade lined with stalls and shops selling souvenirs, funky clothes, and miscellanea. It’s also packed with great and affordable accommodation options.
Best Places to Stay in Venice Beach
- BUDGET: Samesun Venice Beach – Situated smack on beach, this international hostel chain has ample dorm rooms and a few double rooms. The lounge is a fun place to gather in the evening to meet fellow travelers.
- MID-RANGE: The Kinney – This artsy boutique hotel has a pool, bike rentals, and is located a short walk from the beach. Rare of LA, there’s also underground parking onsite!
- LUXURY: Venice V Hotel – Take a 1915 beachside building that was once home to Charlie Chaplin, renovate it, add things like antique typewriters, comfy beds, peacock chairs in the ocean-view rooms and you’ve got one nice hotel.
Best Neighborhood for Foodies: Koreatown
There are ample neighborhoods for the food-obsessed traveler – Thai Town, Little Ethiopia, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, plus amazing Mexican food all over the place—but I love Koreatown. It’s centrally located and loaded with incredible Korean restaurants, serving both traditional and inventive fare.
Best Places to Stay in Koreatown
- BUDGET: Libra Hotel – You need not have been born between September 23 and October 22 to stay at The Libra. But it’s friendly and affordable and right on the edge of K-Town. There are single-bed rooms as well as a dorm room and each guest room has a microwave.
- MID-RANGE: H Hotel – The H is smack in the center of the Koreatown action. Rooms have all the usual suspects: smart TVs, WiFi, above-average products in the bathrooms. The in-house H Café serves pretty good Korean staples.
- LUXURY: The Line – Opened in 2014 and arguably the hippest hotel in Los Angeles, The Line was one of the main reasons for Koreatown’s renaissance. The 388 rooms here are on the minimalist side but are spacious and comfortable. On Sunday partake in the free Tai Chi classes or take out a hotel bicycle or a spin. The minibars include Korean snacks.
Best Neighborhood for First-Time Visitors: West Hollywood
When people think of Los Angeles, they mostly think of West Hollywood. Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards, film studios, tourists, the Walk of Fame, palm-tree-line streets. This are, while not the cheapest in the city, is probably the most central to everything you’ll want to visit during your first time in Los Angeles so I’d recommend staying here.
Best Places to Stay in West Hollywood
- BUDGET: Banana Bungalow West Hollywood – This social hostel hosts regular weekend BBQs, offers shuttles around the city to the main attractions (including Disney), has free Wi-Fi, and has a kitchen for cooking your own food. They have free parking too!
- MID-RANGE: Ramada – With a pool, fitness center, AC, and a restaurant on-site, this three-star hotel makes a comfy, budget-friendly place to base yourself during your visit.
- LUXURY: Andaz West Hollywood – This upscale offering by Hyatt boasts a rooftop pool as well as on-site dining with a seasonal menu. The hotel has a chic bar and the rooms are spacious, airy, and modern.
Best Neighborhood for Families: Santa Monica
Hugging the Pacific Ocean and the area’s namesake mountain range, Santa Monica is a relatively sedate area dominated by its lovely beach area (and pier with amusement park rides). But don’t ignore the fun Third Street Promenade, a blocks-long pedestrian street flanked by shops, restaurants and coffee spots. It’s an attractive and safe area for families to plant themselves while visiting the LA area.
Best Places to Stay in Santa Monica
- BUDGET: HI Los Angeles – Two blocks from the beach and a short walk to the famed Santa Monica pier, this Hosteling International spot offers comfortable private double rooms and larger dorm rooms. There are laundry facilities on property and the lounge is a great place to hang with fellow travelers.
- MID-RANGE: Hotel Carmel – One of the few mid-range options in otherwise expensive Santa Monica, Carmel is a century-old hotel. In-room amenities include free weekday newspapers and Keurig coffee machines.
- LUXURY: Shutters on the Beach – With one of the best views of the Pacific Ocean in the LA area, Shutters is a So-Cal institution. Most rooms have large tubs to soak in after a day of sun and sand at the beach and ocean-view rooms have balconies. Borrow a bike from the hotel and cruise along the beach.
Best Neighborhood for Hipsters: Echo Park or Silver Lake
Echo Park, as well as the adjacent Silver Lake, is the hipster mecca of Los Angeles. Cruise into the area and you’ll spot the skinny jeans, the beards, the third-wave coffee shops, and the forced irony. That said, it’s a very fun area to spend a few days. Cool shops, restaurants, and bars abound here. And you’re just a short drive to Downtown LA in one direction and Griffith Park in the other direction.
Best Places to Stay in Echo Park
- BUDGET: The Lexmar – Affordable and one of the few hotels in Echo Park, the Lexmar is a good budget option: the clean, renovated rooms offer large-screen TVS and microwaves and breakfast is included.
- MID-RANGE: Comfort Inn – Located on Sunset Boulevard, the hotel is actually in nearby Silver Lake, but Echo Park and Silver Lake bleed together in hipster unity. The rooms are clean and comfortable and guests get free breakfast.
- LUXURY: Silver Lake Pool & Inn – As the name suggests, there’s a pool here. And it’s a lovely rooftop swimming spot to lounge and take in the views of LA. Located in Silver Lake (also as the name suggests), right next to Echo Park, the hotel’s rooms are cozy and have minibars stocked with local products and Nespresso coffee machines.
Best Neighborhood for Arts and Culture: Downtown
A couple of decades ago, Downtown Los Angeles – or DTLA, in the local parlance – was a no-go zone. For starters, there wasn’t much to see and do. Secondly, it was home of the city’s skid row. In the last ten years or so, though, DTLA has experienced a renaissance. There are now cool cocktail bars, swanky hotels, and trendy restaurants.
And yes, in the last few years, the homeless population has grown there too. But if you love art, it’s a prime place to plant yourself while in LA: The Museum of Contemporary Art, or MoCA, and the new-ish Broad Museum are in neighborhood. So is architect Frank Gehry’s dynamic concert venue Disney Hall.
Best Places to Stay in Downtown Los Angeles
- BUDGET: Little Tokyo Hotel – This DTLA hotel is a barebones option, offering a shared lounge and shared bathrooms. It’s a no-frills choice, but the price is right and there are lots of great places to eat nearby. There’s a shared kitchen too.
- MID-RANGE: Freehand Los Angeles – Set in a building from the 1920s, this funky and hip hotel has great rooftop pool. The Roman & Williams-designed rooms have plus-sized plasma TVs, free WiFi, and work from local artists. Some rooms have bunk beds, so the whole family can stay in one room.
- LUXURY: The NoMad – An outlet of the hip, posh hotel that started in New York, the Downtown LA version has spared no expense to wow the guest. The spacious rooms, some of which have city views, have hardwood floors, marble writing desks, and a nightly turn-down service.
Los Angeles is a huge sprawling city. I didn’t like visiting it when I first arrived. But, over many visits, it grew on me and I spend more and more time here with each passing year. While public transportation is better than it has been in decades, the traffic is worse than ever, thus navigating from one end to the other can be an exercise in frustration. So picking the neighborhood that is right for you will be the most important decision of your visit here.
Whatever you choose, the great restaurants and the agreeable weather will make any visit to Los Angeles a memorable one.
Book Your Trip to Los Angeles: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
For hostel suggestions, check out my list of the best hostels in Los Angeles!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Los Angeles?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to LA for even more planning tips!