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Los Angeles:
Choosing your Southern California area to stay


Looking out at a sunset from an unknown beach, with a lfeguard station on the right.

Location, location, location is the mantra of the southern California real estate industry, and location should be your mantra, too.

Where you stay in the Los Angeles area can make all the difference between a fulfilling, uplifting visit and a stressful, tiring, and even dangerous one.

Los Angeles is heaven and . . . not heaven. Some parts are heaven and some parts are not.

And location in Los Angeles means more than avoiding less safe neighborhoods, as you would anywhere.

In LA, whether you drive a car or use public transit, it takes a long time to reach most places. You want a hostel or hotel as close to what you want to do and see as possible.

Avoid centre city Los Angeles

Unless you have business there avoid staying more than one night in downtown Los Angeles.

Unlike a Sydney, Paris, Toronto, or New York City, downtown LA does not attract shoppers or those wanting a "night out on the town.," although the latter scene has become more robust in recent years. Downtown you find city and county offices, banking towers, the energy industry, but not much of what you think about when you think about LA. other than its sports teams that play there.

Moreover, the worst skid road in America, an appalling neighborhood, impacts the city centre, especially once offices close. (It surrounds the Greyhound station.)

Avoid less expensive accommodation near LAX airport

Much of the area more than a few blocks east of Los Angeles International Airport (beyond the more expensive airport hotels) is dangerous.

The LAX area also isolates you from what most travellers want to do.

Be careful in Hollywood

The hostels and hotels around the Hollywood and Highland Academy Awards complex are fine, with some caution. And, you should be fine if you stick to hotels and hostels on Hollywood Boulevard or just off it further east, with the same caution.

The city of West Hollywood also should be fine, as long as you take the same care that you would in any urban environment.

Many love to stay in Hollywood because of its vibrant music scene and because there are fine hostels there. Hollywood also puts you in a central location to explore Los Angeles. However, be careful about cheap motels along streets like Sunset Boulevard on eastern side of Hollywood.

If you wish more information on hostels and how to reach Hollywood and Highland from LAX, Amtrak, or the downtown Greyhound station, see "Hollywood Hostels: Pros and Cons."

Stay on the west side of Los Angeles or in Santa Monica

Generally for most visitors, anyplace in an arc from Santa Monica to Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood makes a convenient base. That includes cities and neighbourhoods such as Westwood Village (UCLA), West Los Angeles, Beverly Hills (not all hotels there are terribly expensive), and West Hollywood (the Sunset Strip area).

The area around Highland and Hollywood Boulevard and Santa Monica offer the best public transportation.

In West Hollywood, The Standard makes a good "mid-priced" (for the area) but nevertheless chic hotel choice. (This was the venue for several HBO Sex in the City episodes set in Los Angeles.)

Across from the Hollywood and Highland entertainment centre, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel once had Marilyn Monroe living there. Academy Awards limos queue up across the street.

Beverly Hills, adjacent Westwood Village (UCLA), and Bel Air area all make good choices. The deluxe choice in this area, the Hotel Bel Air, just a few minutes from Beverly Hills and the beach, and set in the midst of beautiful gardens. These latter neighbourhoods tend to be far more expensive than most.

Santa Monica Beach

Seriously consider basing your Los Angeles visit in Santa Monica.

There you'll find a fine beach, great restaurants, the well-run Santa Monica Hostel (a short walk to the beach), a wide range of hotel choices, and easy access to sightseeing. You'll also be near LAX Airport but not its negativity. See our Santa Monica page for more details.

For more introduction to your L.A. area visit:

Go to >> Introduction to your visit
Go to >> Santa Monica
Go to >> Finding the perfect beach
Go to >> Why L.A. is so unique

For additional L.A. information:

Go to >> Off the beaten track L.A.
Go to >> Links to the most useful information

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