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After years of being dismissed as a cultural wasteland, Los Angeles has finally earned its moment in the proverbial sun. LA now boasts some of the country’s best restaurants, a spate of new world-class museums like The Broad, and a vibrant theater, art, and music scene, meaning even the biggest culture snobs are finally catching up to the coolness of America’s second largest city. (And, yes, the weather is perfect, too.)
While Hollywood and pop culture still attract their fair share of deserved attention, there’s so much more to see in the City of Angels. In recent years, neighborhoods like Koreatown, Venice, and Downtown have all experienced booms, with cool new hotels, bars, restaurants, and cultural offerings. Plus, now that the Metro Expo Line provides public transportation from Downtown LA all the way out to Santa Monica, it’s never been easier to explore every wonderful inch of the city. To soak up everything LA has to offer, try staying at one of its boutique hotels, rich in character and often rife with history. Here, the very best boutique hotels in Los Angeles.
Best Overall: Nomad Los Angeles
Even before its doors flung open in early 2018, the five-star Nomad Los Angeles was the city’s buzziest hotel. Located just off Pershing Square in the historic Giannini Place building — which was the original Bank of Italy from the 1920s —the 241-room and suite hotel is undoubtedly glamorous with European style bathrooms, antique Persian rugs, and custom Argan bath amenities. And even if we're really being critical, The Nomad offers as much substance as it does style, managing to get the nitpicky details right, too. Notably: the food.
The hotel — the second outpost after the original New York City location — has already earned renown for its exceptional cuisine. Helmed by restaurateur Will Guidara and Michelin-starred chef Daniel Humm, the hotel offers five dining options including The Restaurant, located underneath the building’s jaw-dropping, fully-restored Italianate ceiling. There’s also the poolside Rooftop Bar, an outdoor café with sweeping views of downtown LA. FYI: The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, although, like most places downtown, parking is pricey.
Best Budget: Mayfair Hotel
Established in 1926 and reopened in 2018 after a full redesign, downtown LA’s Mayfair Hotel offers glitz and glam at great prices. The 294-room hotel provides guests with a wide variety of dining and meeting spaces, including modern Eve American Bistro, Cali-cool M Bar, and Chicago coffee outpost Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea, as well as a mezzanine atrium and grand lobby done in a vintage 1920's style — an homage to the hotel’s past courtesy of architect Gulla Jonsdottir.
Here, rooms feature HD flat-screen TVs, Keurig coffee makers, and Gilchrest & Soames bath amenities; some rooms even have vintage mural maps of Los Angeles as the headboard. The hotel also offers an art gallery, podcast studio for creatives, game room, fitness center, pool complete with private cabanas, and free Wi-Fi. There are frequent screenings and events for guests, as well, many followed by Q&As with the movie’s director.
Best History: Hotel Figueroa
Since debuting more than nine decades ago in 1926, Hotel Figueroa has been an iconic spot downtown LA's skyline. After a just-completed multi-million dollar renovation, the hotel now offers 268 rooms and suites dripping in unique character, including seven eclectic, design-forward signature suites, many with balconies or terraces. Guests can grab a bespoke cocktail at Rick’s with a poolside view of downtown LA, or eat at Mediterranean Veranda restaurant, or Basque-inspired Breva, helmed by James Beard award-winning chef Casey Lane.
For travelers who want a side of culture with their stay, the hotel features an art gallery with rotating and permanent commissioned works from both established and emerging talents, as well as an Artist-in-Residence program. As for standard amenities, there's a 24-hour fitness center, valet parking (for a fee), and free Wi-Fi.
Best for Families: The Garland
Minutes away from Universal Studios in North Hollywood, The Garland is a warm and down-to-earth family-friendly retreat. Suites are named after members of actress Beverly Garland’s family, and all rooms feature free Wi-Fi, a private balcony, and a fridge. Some spacious suites were specifically designed with families in mind and are decked out with a separate kids room with bunk beds, partitions for parental privacy, and DVDs and an extra LCD flat-screen TV in the kids sleeping area.
The hotel offers an activities schedule with a variety of outings, such as games in the courtyard, dive-in movies by the pool, lawn Jenga, Connect Four, foosball, and a face painting night for kids. A free trolley is available to shuttle families between the hotel and Universal Studios and City Walk, and will also drop guests off at the nearby Metro station, providing easy access to Hollywood and downtown LA.
Best for Romance: Malibu Beach Inn
A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner, the low-key Malibu Beach Inn provides couples with a romantic, secluded getaway in one of LA’s most exclusive enclaves. Although Malibu is home to $30-million-dollar mansions and the crème of the Hollywood crop, it’s a relaxed town, and that vibe is evident at the Malibu Beach Inn. A member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the hotel’s 47 rooms and suites are decorated in muted, tranquil shades of cream and blue, with amenities including gas fireplaces, private balconies with views of Carbon Beach, Frette sheets, custom robes, walk-in showers, and Molton Brown products.
On-site dining options are slim: there’s only the Carbon Beach Club restaurant, although its fresh, locally-sourced catches and produce are so delicious that you’d be forgiven for eating every meal here. Just down the beach is another sublime dining option, though off-property: Nobu Malibu (you may have heard of it). There is free Wi-Fi, although— as one might expect in Malibu — valet parking is not complimentary.
Best for Luxury: Hotel Bel-Air
A private getaway tucked into the hills of Bel-Air on 12 serene acres, the five-star Hotel Bel-Air offers 58 rooms and 45 suites, all nestled under a lush canopy of thick palm trees. Its spa offers a variety of facial and body treatments such as a Jet Lag remedy including an aromatherapy massage and Energy Ritual Facial, as well as Valmont products, and a Joseph Martin Hair & Beauty salon. Two restaurants: Wolfgang Puck, featuring elevated California cuisine, and the sleek indoor Bar and Lounge quell guests' appetites.
As befitting a hotel in one of LA’s swankiest enclave — to get to the hotel, you literally must pass through gates — there’s an actual Swan Lake with four resident swans, VIP concierge, kids amenities including bathrobes, and complimentary transportation within a three-mile radius of the hotel. The hotel is also pet friendly, and offers special dog amenities including designer dog bowls, homemade peanut butter biscuits, and doggie bandanas.
Best View: The LINE LA
Situated in the heart of Koreatown, The LINE offers spectacular views of Hollywood and the hills — including the famous Hollywood sign — and in a fashionable, 24/7 setting. As far as food goes, there's POT, a lobby bar from famed local chef Roy Choi, complete with guest DJs spinning tunes on Friday and Saturday nights; 80’s-inspired karaoke bar Break Room 86 (from local nightlife impresarios the Houston Brothers); and an IG-friendly, pool-adjacent restaurant, Commissary. Room service is known as “delivery,” and meals arrive in cake pans swaddled with gorgeous scarfs, while beverages are dropped off in Stanley camping-style canisters.
Each room commands stunning floor-to-ceiling views and offers amenities like flat-screen TVs, original local artwork, and Buckler’s natural, paraben- and petroleum-free bath products, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel is also dog-friendly, welcoming two fur babies up to 25 pounds each.
Best Nightlife: Dream Hollywood
The trendy Dream Hollywood is, indeed, the stuff Hollywood dreams are made of. Featuring 178 mid-century modern rooms (designed by the Rockwell Group) with sitting areas, C.O. Bigelow bath amenities, and rainfall showers, the four-star hotel is a mecca for LA’s beautiful young things. With a buzzy lobby bar, the hotel offers several hip watering and eating holes including The Highlight Room, Tao, and Beauty & Essex, as well as a retractable rooftop pool with incredible city views (not to mention a perfect spot for people-watching), and a gym.
Guests are often greeted with a bottle of champagne for special occasions, while the house cars offer rides within three miles offering plenty of room for exploration considering the hotel’s ideal location. In order to please young, tech-savvy guests, the hotel also offers complimentary Wi-Fi.
Best for Business: InterContinental Downtown Los Angeles
Located in the heart of buzzing downtown LA — in the tallest building west of Chicago — the Intercontinental Downtown Los Angeles is perfectly situated for meetings and close to a variety of entertainment and restaurant venues. Taking a lunch meeting? Gourmet culinary options are plentiful, including elegant French steakhouse La Boucherie — boasting a wine list with more than 1,200 offerings — farm-to-fork Dekkadance, sushi and omakase restaurant Sora, and the 73rd-floor rooftop lounge Spire 73, the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere. The LEED-certified hotel offers free, business-mandatory Wi-Fi, as well as a pool and fitness center, though parking fees are hefty and there is no spa.