Where to Stay in Los Angeles: Our Favourite Neighbourhoods
Los Angeles is a rather big city, so you probably need some help with deciding where to stay. Luckily for you, we here at Plum Guide are here to help with that.
On the off chance Los Angeles hasn’t made it onto your travel bucket list, it’s time to change that. The backdrop for dozens of iconic movies throughout the years, there’s something so timeless about Los Angeles. Coined the City of Angels, LA has a way of making you feel like you’re floating. Star-studded events and some not so under-the-radar celebrity sightings are par for the course here, and you’ll be right in the centre of the action. Whether eager to embark on a food tour through LA’s innovative food scene, ready to get some serious vitamin-sea (see what we did there?) or just ready to rooftop hop your night away, this is your movie and we’re just watching it.
When it comes to where to stay in Los Angeles, it really comes down to personality. Follow Plum Guide's expert neighbourhood tips to discover the perfect place for you.
First off, let’s get our bearings. When we say Downtown LA, we’re referring to a couple of smaller areas, too: Chinatown, Little Tokyo and the Arts District to name a few. In general, this neighbourhood is quick to spot, what with its many art museums, modern high-rise buildings and architectural landmarks like the El Pueblo de Los Angeles. In terms of convenience and cultural attractions (especially if in LA with kids), Downtown is definitely where to stay in Los Angeles.
A typical day in Downtown
As its name suggests, Downtown LA is where all the action takes place, both during the workday and after hours. It’s a mix of everything and everyone, from young professionals and Instagram influencers to artists, foodies and families. Brimming with noteworthy restaurants (we're a fan of El Cholo, the Mexican restaurant that opened its doors in 1923), an innovative fashion scene and loads of street art, Downtown does not disappoint.
Start your day with a stroll through the city’s Fashion District, also part of Downtown LA. This area covers 90 city blocks and showcases Los Angeles’ diverse style. Sift through fabric stores and warehouses or simply window shop as you walk. Definitely check out Santee Alley. It’s filled with more than 250 stores and stalls, with items ranging from affordable clothing and jewellery to one-of-a-kind accessories. LA is sunny year-round, so don’t feel too bad about spending a few hours indoors at a museum. The Broad features both modern and pop art through curated exhibitions and public programming. There’s also the MOCA (Museum for Contemporary Art) and the Grammy Museum.
Not everyone makes it in Hollywood, but there’s nothing stopping you from living there, even if it’s only for a few days in a remarkable Plum Guide Hollywood home. Rich in LA history, Hollywood is where you’ll see some very old (and lavish) mansions, as well as charming bungalows and cosy guest cottages. That said, don’t expect to stay in - the nightlife here is abuzz with restaurants, bars and clubs.
A typical day in Hollywood
There is so much to do in Hollywood, we suggest you opt for some comfortable (but stylish) trainers. Because Hollywood is home to major landmarks like the TCL Chinese Theatre and the star-studded Walk of Fame, you’ll want to get an early start to beat the crowds.
Come lunchtime, don’t just grab and go. Instead, dine in one of Hollywood’s long-standing establishments. For example, Pig’n Whistle was regularly frequented by Shirley Temple and Musso & Frank Grill has played host to literary heavyweights like John Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Musso and Frank are now both over 100 years old. Looking for something a bit more interactive? Madame Tussauds is a hit with families while couples might opt for a night out bowling at Lucky Strike. For nature lovers, book a horseback riding tour at Sunset Ranch, complete with a barbecue meal.
With Venice as maybe the only exception, West Hollywood has got to be the best LA neighbourhood for people-watching. It’s home to the iconic Sunset Boulevard and the streets are lined with entertainment of all forms. There’s a large LGBTQ community in ‘WeHo’ and the annual Gay Pride parade takes place here every year. Shop by day and rooftop party by night.
A typical day in West Hollywood
West Hollywood is a really walkable neighbourhood, so take your time stopping at all the must-see sights. Take a stroll along the Sunset Strip and if you’re feeling extravagant, splurge on dinner at André Balazs' Chateau Marmont Restaurant. Then, head to Melrose to see the views from the public rooftop at Restoration Hardware. It’s an Instagrammer's dream backdrop, with sweeping views of the Design District. Keep the rooftop hop going with a round of drinks at the Asian-fusion hotspot, E.P & L.P. Evening views are the best, so try to time your visit accordingly.
The Hollywood Hills
Home to the famous Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Hills are where some of LA’s most lavish mansions are located—all with breathtaking views of the city. If you can’t splurge on a rental here, take in the view from the Hollywood Bowl, instead. That, or hike your way to the Hollywood Sign, erected in 1923 and originally reading ‘HOLLYWOODLAND.’
A typical day in the Hollywood Hills
If you’re staying in the Hollywood Hills, plan on hiking to the Hollywood Sign. You can do this yourself or sign up for a guided hike through a tour company. Early mornings are great, as you’ll beat the heat (and the crowds) or opt for an evening hike and watch the sunset over the hills. The rest of the night, you might just want to chill out at your Plum Guide home, glass of wine in hand and listening to your favourite bands blast through the speakers. If you want to get out, then Griffith Observatory is a must. The observatory is an interesting learning experience in itself but the real attraction here is the view. The views at night are breathtaking, spanning the entire city, this is the perfect spot for a romantic photo.
As the Weezer song says, “Beverly Hills, that’s where I want to be.” We totally feel him on that because it’s where we want to be, too. Not only is Beverly Hills a central LA hood, it’s packed with so many amazing restaurants, hotels and shops. From the infamous Rodeo Drive to the gorgeous art-deco Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills has it all.
A typical day in Beverly Hills
Start your day strong with a self-guided tour through the heart of Beverly Hills. Grab a bite at The Beverly Hills Hotel - their Fountain Coffee Room is one of the most glamorous lunch spots we’ve seen (which is saying something, it is our job to inspect remarkable vacation homes for you, after all) and the food’s not bad, either. Next, have your very own ‘Pretty Woman’ moment on Rodeo Drive, where all the major fashion stores are located: Balenciaga, Bulgari, Versace, Valentino and more. Even if you don’t drop 12 grand on a purse, the window shopping and palm tree-lined street are enough to put you in that movie star mindset.
Located in LA’s west side, this beachfront neighbourhood is a dreamy slice of paradise by any standard. Compared to Venice (see below), Santa Monica feels more refined and upscale, with a slightly older demographic. Don’t get us wrong - there’s still tons to do but you can do so at a slower pace. Aside from the famous Santa Monica Pier), there are countless bars and restaurants to enjoy when the sun goes down.
A typical day in Santa Monica
Adopt a slower pace in Santa Monica- you’re at the beach after all! Head straight to the beach for a few hours of beach bumming- later, explore the beachfront pathway that passes through Venice and runs all the way to Redondo Beach. When you get hungry, shop at one of the many farmers’ markets around. Come sunset, head straight to the iconic pier. Home to one of only a few remaining oceanfront amusement parks, The Santa Monica Pier is super dreamy at night with all those twinkling lights along the Ferris Wheel.
There’s a certain lovability about Venice which you really have to see to believe, but we’ll do our best! A postcard from Venice will give you all the SoCal feels: palm trees, delicious food stands, vibrant street art and seemingly endless Instagram-worthy backdrops. It’s bizarre and yet we can’t get enough of it.
A typical day in Venice
The best way to experience Venice is to keep moving. Wake up bright and early for a SUP—stand up paddleboard—class on the water. Not quite ready to take your yoga skills to the beach? There are more traditional studios as well, like Yoga Nest or Yoga Collective. After class, go for brunch at Dudley Market, one of LA’s most notable restaurants. Brave the crowds with a walk along the famous Venice Boardwalks. It’s people watching at its finest: street performers, rollerbladers, skaters and beach bums all in one place. After burying your toes in the sand, walk to Abbot Kinney Boulevard for some seriously amazing shopping. We’re talking high-quality leather goods at Cuyana, spiritual books at Mystic Journey and vintage everything at Current/Elliott.
Echo Park is having a major moment right now and we’re so on board. Eastside trendsetters have packed up and promptly relocated to this happening neighbourhood and they’ve transformed it, for better or worse. Today, it’s a fun mix of dive bars, casual dining spots, art galleries and live music venues. It’s hipster to the very core.
A typical day in Echo Park
Some say that Echo Park is the ‘new Silver Lake’ and we’d have to agree. Located between Silver Lake and Downtown LA, Echo Park is walkable and full of hidden spots you won’t soon forget. A typical day here might start with a pedal boat ride around Echo Park Lake, followed by a visit to the Baxter Street Stairs (there are 231 of them) for sky-high views. Getting hungry? We thought so. Find yourself a table at Pollen for coffee, breakfast and an all-around lovely outdoor setting. Vegans can go to town at Sage Vegan Bistro - everything from mac & cheese to nachos and pizza is on the menu. Bar Bandini is a fun pre-dinner spot for wine and conversation. Then, indulge on Mediterranean inspired organic vegan food at Elf Cafe.
Back in the 1920s, Culver City was home to the Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) Studios Inc., and while part of the studio still stands today, it’s mostly divided between Sony and Columbia Pictures. Moviemaking aside, Culver City has become a foodie Mecca, with restaurants serving up all types of cuisines and usually for reasonable prices to boot.
A typical day in Culver City
Culver City is a bit far removed from the craziness of Downtown LA, and that’s partly why people like it so much when deciding on where to stay in Los Angeles. Get your morning coffee fix at Cognoscenti Coffee. The small shop boasts coffees from top roasters across the States. Then, head to The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook for, you guessed it, city views. Spend the afternoon exploring the many galleries and shops making up the Culver City Art District. Arcana: books on the Arts is a long-running store selling new and also old, out of print books. Then there’s Platform, a building housing shops like high-end accessories brand Pop & Suki, as well as crowd pleasers SoulCycle and Sweetgreen.
So, there you have it. Everything you need to know about where to stay in Los Angeles. Next up is to plan what you'll get up to whilst there, so time to start reading our 7 day LA itinerary.