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Los Angeles Hostel Tips: Beach Hostels

Selecting the Best Hostel Location for Your Los Angeles Stay: Hostels at—
Venice Beach,
Santa Monica,
Hermosa Beach, and
LAX Airport

Hostels are as spread out in the Los Angeles area as is the sightseeing. Neighbourhoods vary hugely in safety and convenience.

It’s fair to say that choosing the right hostel location may be your most important Los Angeles travel decision.

Venice Beach, Santa Monica, or Hermosa Beach compared to Hollywood

Most travellers stay either in or near Hollywood or somewhere near the beaches. Some savvy travellers choose both, with some nights spent in Hollywood and some at the beach.

Hollywood gives best access to top clubs and sightseeing such as Universal Studios.

Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach, and Venice Beach offer more of a resort atmosphere, with wide public beaches and a mellower vibe, but nevertheless some lively nightlife.

Santa Monica Hostel advantages

I love Santa Monica.

Unless your focus is on the best clubs in Los Angeles, you won’t find a more uplifting hostel location in southern California than at HI-Los Angeles - Santa Monica.

Santa Monica has a fine beach (just below the hostel) and you can also walk, bike or rollerblade to other beaches. Views from Palisades Park above the main beach extend all the way to Malibu.

Safety is not generally an issue in Santa Monica, except for unlighted portions of the beach after dark and for areas adjacent to inland Venice Beach. As in any urban area, avoid streets at night that have few people.

UCLA students flood into the area on evenings and weekends to fill the lively pubs. You’ll find a wide variety of meal types and prices near the hostel.

Santa Monica public transit

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus provides some of the best public transit in the western U.S.

Express Big Blue Bus service links Santa Monica with LAX Airport and Amtrak Union Station. Also, check out Big Blue's "Mini Blue" services, such as its Tide route that moves you around the hostel area and to Venice Beach.

Metro buses also serve Santa Monica. One route takes you from Santa Monica to Malibu and Zuma beaches, including the famed Surfriders Beach (Malibu Lagoon State Beach) at Malibu Pier and very popular Zuma County Beach. A Metro light-rail line now links the the HI-Santa Monica hostel area to downtown Los Angeles.

Santa Monica Hostel

HI-Los Angeles - Santa Monica: An exceptionally well run hostel with lots of activities.

You’ll be right above the beach, where Baywatch was filmed, and the Santa Monica Pier. A block away you'll find the Third Street Promenade shopping area, where portions of films such as “Terminator 2” were filmed. You can easily walk to the Main Street pub area.

A party hard hostel Santa Monica is not. If that's your preference, see Venice Beach and Hermosa Beach below.) Getting a reservation can be very difficult in peak season. You cannot stay more than 14 days per year.

Hermosa Beach pros and cons

Not far from LAX, Hermosa Beach provides a great southern California beach town atmosphere, filled with LAX Airport flight crews and USC students who commute to class. Very mellow area. Super beach.

However, even with a car, you are isolated from Los Angeles sightseeing. Choose this area if you want to relax for a few days, have fun with others staying at the hostel, and not move around too much.

Hermosa Beach Surf City Hostel

Los Angeles Surf City Hostel (also known as Hermosa Beach Surf City Hostel): very highly recommended if you're ready to enjoy its very lively and fun party atmosphere.

Nearly on the beach.

Venice Beach hostels

While the commercial heart of Los Angeles developed inland, many areas along the shore, such as Venice Beach, became primarily residential in character.

However, unlike most beach communities that steadily increased in appeal and price over the years, Venice Beach actually significantly deteriorated, with its canals becoming filled in or little more than swamps, and wide areas declining to just one step above a slum.

That meant lower estate prices and that meant hostels.

That's changing now as Los Angeles-area real estate prices skyrocket and developers move into Venice Beach.

Venice Beach hostel advantages

Other than in Hermosa Beach, you won’t find better hostels for chilling out anywhere in Los Angeles.

The Venice Beach Boardwalk is fascinating, with probably the most interesting collection of hopefully harmless eccentrics found anywhere. People come from all over Southern California to enjoy this scene. There’s always something fun going on.

You’re reasonably close to LAX Airport and Malibu and adjacent to Santa Monica.

Although not as convenient as in Santa Monica, transit serves the area frequently.

Venice Beach hostel disadvantages

Venice Beach has significant safety issues, especially at night and especially inland from the busy Boardwalk and beach area.

Although it’s wonderfully wide, Venice's beach is the least clean of Los Angeles area beaches, sometimes clustered with groups of homeless people and dogs running loose. People complain about what the dogs leave behind and of such things as injection needles in the sand.

Parking, especially on warm days, can be a major problem.

Monica, transit serves the area frequently.

Venice Beach hostels

Due to astronomic increases in prices in a booming Los Angeles-area real estate market, you find fewer and fewer hostels and inexpensive motels in Venice Beach.

LAX Airport hostels and motels

If at all possible, avoid this area. Although LAX runways end at a beach, the neighbourhood becomes a high crime one once you move into areas with real estate prices cheap enough for low priced accommodation.

If you feel that you must stay near LAX because you have a 7:00 A.M. flight or you’re arriving late at night, do not walk or use public transit. Arrange for pick up or take a taxi. Or, better yet, take a van shuttle to or from a hostel located in a better area, such as Hermosa Beach, Santa Monica (or a Big Bus bus), or even Hollywood.

Directions to Los Angeles beach hostels from Amtrak, Greyhound, and LAX Airport

Los Angeles hostel tips: Hollywood hostels locations and pros and cons

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