The best places to stay in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)


Sea Shore Motel
"The last of its kind: generic roadside motel now sandwiched between cafés and yoga studios on Santa Monica's irrefutably hip Main Street."—Kathy McDonald, hotel critic, Fodor's L.A. 19 no-nonsense rooms and five kitchen suites with living room. 2637 Main St.; tel. +1 310 392 2787;

Venice Beach House
Former home of L.A. media mogul Warren Wilson and his wife, Carla. Charmingly restored rooms now named after leaders (political and religious) and scoundrels who were their friends. 15 30th Ave.; tel. + 1 310 823 1966;


Ayres Hotel Hawthorne
Airport-and beach-convenient hotel furnished like a stone-and-iron château by way of California: wrought iron balconies, stone fireplaces, classic sofas, formal dining chairs. 14400 Hindry Ave., Hawthorne, CA; tel. +1 310 536 0400;

Avalon Hotel
Hip, airy hotel with rooms in motel-like configuration. Housed in three buildings that form a triangle around the best part: deep poolside dining cabanas filled with laid-back California laughter. Located in a quiet pocket of Beverly Hills. 9400 W. Olympic Blvd.; tel. +1 310 277 5221;

The Standard Downtown L.A.
"Featuring the rooftop bar that almost singlehandedly made downtown LA hip."—Laurent Vernhes, president, Well-priced hotel adorned in bold, candy colors to match the bold, candy-clothed clientele: fuchsia lobby, bright yellow restaurant, white rooms, podlike glass showers, and red rooftop bar. 550 S. Flower St.; tel. +1 213 892 8080;

Figueroa Hotel
"Faux Moroccan lobby leads to a pool and patio bar that are downtown L.A.'s hidden, leafy oasis."—Kathy McDonald. Mexican tiles, intricate lanterns, high ceilings, and light-catching fabrics in historic building make this one of the most stunning lobbies in L.A. The decorating marvels extend to the rooms and suites, where Persian rugs make the vastness cozy. 939 S. Figueroa St.; tel. +1 213 627 8971;

Farmer's Daughter
"Hollywood's luxury motel, decked out in a winning kitsch-Americana style."—Laurent Vernhes. Small and family-owned, with distinct accommodations: the "farmer's suite" has a kitchenette, the "no tell room" ceiling mirrors, gingham curtains, and painted rocking chairs—all within walking distance of the Farmers Market, the Grove (mall), and museums. 115 S. Fairfax Ave.; tel. 800 334 1658;


Chateau Marmont
"The sophistication and A-listers seeping out of this hotel have made it a Hollywood staple."—Rebecca Brown, editor, 944 (Los Angeles). Sunset Strip's historic castle has been home to many a scandal, and at least one tragic overdose (John Belushi). 63 rooms, cottages, and bungalows, most with full kitchens, some with dining rooms, balconies, and terraces. Even if not spending the night, breakfast or lunch in the legendary garden is a breezy fresh-air treat. 8221 Sunset Blvd.; tel. +1 323 656 1010;

Maison 140
"Upscale Beverly Hills B&B, probably the best place in town for a discreet lovers' weekend."—Laurent Vernhes. Red-lacquered doors greet guests into former home of silent film star Lillian Gish. 43 rooms uniquely fitted with Chinoiserie accents, Parisian salon chairs, American artwork, and fine Italian linen. 140 Lasky Dr.; tel. +1 310 281 4000;

"Inches from the Sunset Strip, the Mondrian soaks up noise and action while exploiting unequalled views."—Kathy McDonald. Philippe Starck's white box of a hotel, with 237 rooms and suites. No need to leave the hotel for some of L.A.'s best nightlife, at Asia de Cuba restaurant and Skybar. 8440 Sunset Blvd.; tel. +1 323 650 8999;

Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas
102 clean, contemporary suites and 12 spacious, adobe-roofed villas with a Mediterranean touch and frequent celebrities. 1200 Alta Loma Rd.; tel. +1 310 657 1333;

W Los Angeles
"Putting Westwood on the map, this hotel is a favorite to out-of-town and local celebrities seeking sexy refuge."—Rebecca Brown. Pet-friendly, ultra-modern hotel in location convenient to west side (near Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, UCLA, and West L.A.). Amenities include a large outdoor pool, a fitness center, and the area's only Bliss spa. 930 Hilgard Ave.; tel. +1 310 208 8765;


Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows
"Signature pink facade masks old-school charms. Captivates both the moneyed and the wannabes."—Kathy McDonald. Retains its hallowed status as hotel (and frequent residence) to the stars, with distinctive facade, green-and-white-striped cabanas, renowned cuisine (Polo Lounge), live piano music, soda fountain, and acres of immaculate gardens. Renovations have omitted no detail (fireplaces, carpeted outdoor walkways, hedges along outdoor treatment beds on the patio of the La Prairie spa). Dozens of suite and bungalow accommodations—all with unique designs. 9641 Sunset Blvd.; tel. +1 310 276 2251;

Peninsula Beverly Hills
"The gold standard in luxury—over-the-top even for Beverly Hills."—Laurent Vernhes. Elegant lobby paves the way to soothing, airy, and tasteful rooms, suites, and private villas. On the rooftop: pool, cabanas, and exquisite spa overlook Beverly Hills and skyscrapers of Century City. 9882 Santa Monica Blvd.; tel. +1 310 551 2888;

Shutters on the Beach
"As cozy as it gets for holing up in Santa Monica and shutting out the outside world."—Laurent Vernhes. With its white clapboard exterior, Shutters could be a West Coast fantasy of Nantucket. But its location—a stone's throw from the Pacific—and laid-back vibe are unmistakably southern California. Spend your day at Coast, the beachside café and bar, or by the poolside. The bright, light, and newly renovated interiors have generous balconies—up to three per suite. 1 Pico Blvd.; tel. + 1 310 458 0030;


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