Best Areas to Stay in L.A. (+ Budget Hotels!)

People line the pier, with the ocean visible on the left side of the photo, and a yellow building at the end of the pier in Santa Monica, California.

If you’re anything like me, when deciding where to make your home base during a trip, you probably like to weigh the pros and cons of each area. You most likely care about staying somewhere walkable, and relatively close to most of the places you’re interested in visiting. This neighborhood guide lays all that out for you for your trip to L.A. — it has six of the most popular areas to stay in Los Angeles, plus some budget hotel recommendations, to make your trip planning even easier!

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Something that many visitors underestimate is just how sprawling Los Angeles is. What looks like a short distance on a map (or a 20-minute drive during late-night Googling) may actually be an hour (or longer) drive. While a vacation in L.A. will inevitably mean some time in the car (or public transportation, if you’re not up for that), choosing which neighborhood to make your home base can make a huge difference in the quality of your trip. So, before you start researching where to stay, consider what sights are most important for you to visit. Check out this Los Angeles budget itinerary for more ideas — it has all my favorite neighborhoods, sightseeing and more across the county.

Disclosure: Some of the included links may be affiliate links, meaning that at no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I trust and have used. Thanks for your support!

Santa Monica

If you want to maximize your beach time, Santa Monica may be the place for you. This is a really nice area that’s really walkable, with lots of restaurants, shops, and of course the iconic Santa Monica Pier, right at your fingertips. Venice is also right next door, which is worth a stop especially if it’s your first time visiting the area. 

Pros: Walkable; on the beach; lots of restaurants; pretty safe during the day

Cons: not as affordable; can be far from some other tourist destinations

Where to Stay in Santa Monica

While being on a budget by the beach is more difficult, it’s not impossible! HI Los Angeles is a dorm-style hostel that’s highly rated, and super walkable. The famous pier as well as the Third Street Promenade (an area with lots of stores and restaurants) is closeby. Plus, it includes daily housekeeping and breakfast!

Learn more here.

Long Beach

Long Beach

Hear me out — I know Long Beach isn’t considered the most glamorous area, or one that usually comes to mind when visiting L.A. (There are, in fact, a ton of fun things to do here though. Check out my weekend guide for more on this!) 

But it’s where I live, and I love how it’s right in the middle of so many other great places in Southern California. Just half an hour north is Downtown L.A., Little Tokyo, and the Arts District, while half an hour south is Huntington Beach, one of the most well-known beaches in the country. If you’re planning on checking off both Los Angeles and Orange County destinations from your bucket list while here, Long Beach is a great choice. Plus, it’s considered a much more affordable beach city than other areas. 

It’s also a great place to stay thanks to its abundance of restaurants, cafes, and bars, plus every other amenity you could possibly need on your trip. 

Pros: Central to L.A. and Orange County; has lots of amenities; walkable neighborhoods

Cons: Not as generally safe as some other cities; can be far depending on where you hope to spend the most time on your trip

Where to Stay in Long Beach

The Courtyard by Marriott Long Beach Downtown is a popular option that’s within walking distance of Downtown and the shoreline. It’s super convenient if you’re looking for somewhere near the beach, lots of dining and nightlife options, and other Long Beach tourist destinations like the Aquarium of the Pacific or the Queen Mary ship. 

Find out more here.

If you’re sticking to more of a budget, the Beach Inn Motel is another beachside option. Downtown, which has lots of stores, restaurants, bars, and access to public transportation, is in close proximity as well. 

Get more information here.

Hollywood

If affordability and proximity are your top priorities, then Hollywood may be the best area for you to stay in Los Angeles. This neighborhood doesn’t feel as safe and probably wouldn’t be my pick, but it is a great way to be close to sites like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theatre. Plus other top destinations like the Griffith Observatory aren’t far either. It’ll also be easy to find public transportation around here that can take you to other destinations around L.A., if you won’t have a car.

Pros: close to some main tourist destinations; more options for affordable places to stay

Cons: less safe; can be lots of traffic

Where to Stay in Hollywood

Orange Drive Hostel is a very highly-rated hostel just steps from Hollywood’s best tourist destinations, plus lots of restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and access to public transport.

Learn more here.

If you’re up for a dorm, Melrose Hostel in Hollywood is super affordable, cute, and in a great location. Check it out here.

West Hollywood

West Hollywood is a relatively central location that’s home to the iconic Sunset Strip, a historic nightlife spot. Today, this neighborhood is still known for its nightlife, which can be a pro or a con for you. The historic hotel Chateau Marmont, known for its many celebrity guests, and Melrose Avenue, a famous area for shopping, are also here. The coast is just under 13 miles away, meaning that you can have anywhere from a 30-minute to an hour-long (or more) drive to the beach, depending on the traffic.

Pros: central location; nightlife; shopping

Cons: pricier

Where to Stay in West Hollywood

The Banana Bungalow West Hollywood Hotel & Hostel is one of the most affordable options available. It’s close to the airport as well as other destinations like the LACMA. It even includes parking and breakfast. (If you end up renting a car, finding accommodation that includes parking will make your life much easier.) 

Get more information and book here. 

Highland Park

Nestled in the northeast of Los Angeles is Highland Park. Other destinations in Los Angeles like the LACMA, the Getty Center, and Santa Monica are all just over 20 miles away, meaning you shouldn’t have more than an hour drive to get to other pockets of L.A. Pasadena, and other nearby destinations like the Huntington Botanical Gardens are just 10 minutes or so away by car. (You’ll definitely want to check out my Pasadena guide if you end up staying here.) 

And as for Highland Park itself, it’s a diverse, and artsy area with lots of thrift shops, cafes, and other fun places to check out like the Highland Park Bowl and the famous Figueroa Street.

Pros: walkable; proximity to Pasadena; not many affordable accommodation options

Cons: beach isn’t as accessible

Where to Stay in Highland park

Technically right over the border in Pasadena (but just 5 minutes from Highland Park), Arroyo Vista Inn is a moderately priced inn (moderately priced for the area, that is.) With that said, it’s beautiful, has a relaxing, homey atmosphere, and even includes complimentary wine! 

Check it out here.

Echo Park

Echo Park is another trendy, walkable neighborhood. It’s a great spot to make your home base during your trip to L.A. It borders other interesting neighborhoods worth a stop during your L.A. trip, like Downtown, Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown and the also-trendy Silver Lake. There are lots of cool restaurants, bars and shops to explore in this neighborhood, and the opportunity for some nature at Echo Park Lake and Elysian Park. Especially if you’re interested in attending a Dodgers game, this may be the neighborhood for you. 

Pros: walkable; close to other neighborhoods in L.A.

Cons: not the most affordable

Where to Stay in Echo Park

Right on the border of Echo Park and Silver Lake is The Lexmar, a modern and moderately-priced motel. There’s a 24-hour front desk, and amazingly, free parking! 

Find out more here. 

Which area sounds the best to you for your trip to Los Angeles? Or if you’ve been to L.A. already, where did you stay? What did you think? Let me know in the comments 🙂 

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16 Comments

  1. Marilyn
    June 19, 2024 / 3:54 pm

    I love your pros and cons. Super helpful when narrowing down my choices.

    • Tess
      Author
      June 19, 2024 / 5:16 pm

      thanks so much, I’m so glad it’s helpful 🙂

  2. June 20, 2024 / 4:55 am

    Los Angeles is definitely sprawling so appreciate these hotel recommendations within neighborhoods. And the budget-friendly options as well.

    • Tess
      Author
      June 20, 2024 / 5:32 pm

      Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

  3. Jan
    June 20, 2024 / 12:16 pm

    Great choices on where to stay in LA. Staying near a beach would be fun for beach lovers. Echo Park looks like an interesting neighborhood too. 🙂

    • Tess
      Author
      June 20, 2024 / 5:32 pm

      Thanks Jan! Both would be great choices 🙂

  4. June 20, 2024 / 6:42 pm

    We’ve stayed in LA back in 2011, I believe in the Hollywood area, since I know we walked to the Walk of Fame from our hotel. Your pros and cons list of each area is great.

    • Tess
      Author
      June 20, 2024 / 7:27 pm

      Hope you had a great time! thanks for reading 🙂

  5. June 21, 2024 / 1:54 am

    So very helpful – a great overview of neighbourhoods to stay in but also to just wander!!! Thanks! On my one and only trip to that area, I was way out in Pasadena but public transit was great! These options will help when I return!

    • Tess
      Author
      June 21, 2024 / 2:53 am

      Thanks so much Tracy! I love Pasadena so much, I’m sure that was a great place to stay! hope you get to visit again soon 🙂

  6. June 21, 2024 / 4:01 am

    I love Long Beach and have stayed at both the Hotel Maya and the Queen Mary.

    • Tess
      Author
      June 21, 2024 / 5:32 pm

      love the Queen Mary! Hotel Maya must have been amazing too, it’s so beautiful!

  7. Amanda
    June 21, 2024 / 9:57 am

    This is so incredibly helpful! Knowing where to stay based on the interests really helps plan out a trip!

    • Tess
      Author
      June 21, 2024 / 5:32 pm

      thanks so much, Amanda! I’m so glad you found it helpful <3

  8. June 23, 2024 / 1:53 pm

    I love learning about LA through your blog! x

    • Tess
      Author
      June 23, 2024 / 5:09 pm

      thank you so much Chloe! 🥰

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