To stay at one of the prettiest hotels in L.A., head for the Langham Huntington in Pasadena. Just 9 miles from the heart of downtown, the Langham will make you feel a million miles from the madding crowd. Lush grounds (make sure to wander in the Chinese garden), elegant interiors, tennis courts and a heated saline swimming pool await, all staffed by people dedicated to making you happy equals an unmatched hotel experience. The Langham offers rooms, suites and cottages, designed with complete comfort in mind. At the Club level, you'll find everything from breakfast, tea and scones, sushi and more. And don't miss a visit to the new Chuan Spa, where sublime treatments with a Chinese Traditional Medicine influence will refresh, relax and renew you.
The venerable Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel sure looks good for her age. Built in 1928 and the home to the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, it is still a mecca of cool, from the suite that Marilyn Monroe lived in to the Tropicana Bar perched next to the swimming pool designed by David Hockney. There's the massive Gable and Lombard suite, the speakeasy known as Teddy's, the Spare Room bar complete with two bowling lanes and the wacky Beacher's Madhouse nightclub, all designed to make you feel like a Hollywood insider. And there might just be a movie premiere's after party happening in the massive Spanish Colonial lobby, for the Roosevelt is the go-to place for the studios to celebrate their biggest film releases.
The Loews Hollywood Hotel is right in the heart of the beast – the Hollywood beast, that is. Located just behind the Hollywood & Highland retail complex that houses the Dolby Theatre (where the Academy Awards are awarded) and steps from the Chinese Theatre (where stars leave their hand- and footprints in cement), this hotel is ideal for fans of Tinseltown. An easy ride to Universal Studios or Warner Bros. (whose VIP tour now includes "The Batman Exhibit"), the recently renovated hotel boasts 628 lavish guestrooms (many with views of the whole city), a large swimming pool, fitness center (offering outdoor yoga on the roof) and pet-friendly policies. And for an indulgent experience, gather your friends (up to 600) and have "Dinner on the Stage." That's the hotel's special offering presented on the same Dolby Theatre stage where the Oscars are given out, with the meal catered by Wolfgang Puck.
There are plenty of posh hotels along the Sunset Strip, but there is only one that combines a serious rock 'n roll sensibility with a very private, very luxurious feel. Yes, this is the place where Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Steven Tyler like to sleep while in L.A.; and that's just the tip of the iceberg of musical legends who have stayed here since it opened in 1963. You'll see massive photos of some of them hung throughout the hotel. Choose a large suite or even a two-bedroom villa and you're likely to feel just like rock royalty when staying at this famed hotel. Be sure to dine at Cavatina, where the small-plate sharable dishes are little bites of heaven. And if the spirit moves you, there's even a recording studio in the subterranean garage, where stars like Justin Timberlake, Faith Hill and Madonna have laid down tracks.
If you love sea, sails and salt air, then the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey should be your L.A. home away from home. Just a few miles north along the beach from LAX, the Ritz is a classically beautiful hotel overlooking the massive marina that serves most of the boat owners in Los Angeles. Soak in the views from inside the lovely Cast & Plow restaurant or sit on the modern patio, tasting Chef Umit Kaygusuz's locally sourced tapas while enjoying a "Crafted Cocktail" and the setting sun. Stay in a Club level room or suite and you'll have views of the ocean and the city, as well as continuous food and beverage offerings in the Club Lounge. Enjoy this five-star hotel's heated pool, eco-conscious spa and, if you're traveling with children, the special Ritz Kids program designed to keep them occupied and happy while visiting Southern California.
When it comes to fabulous beachfront living, look no further than Casa del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica. Here you'll find a room (or a suite) with a view – of the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Monica pier and Ferris wheel, and the glistening Strand. That's the bike path that wends its way along all the SoCal beach communities. Rent a bike and take a ride, or perhaps try a surfing lesson or a yoga class right on the sand; the hotel offers all those experiences and more. Later, shop until you drop at nearby Santa Monica Place, spend time in the spa, share a few small seafood plates at the hotel's highly rated Catch restaurant or simply sip a cocktail in the comfortable Lounge Bar and watch the the sun set over the ocean. It's a magical place devoted to making every minute of your stay a memorable one.
The Beverly Hilton Hotel was the jewel in the crown of Conrad Hilton's hotel chain when it was built in 1953. Situated at the bustling corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards, the recently renovated hotel is the home of the Golden Globe Awards, but that's just one of countless awards shows, charity benefits and other Hollywood industry events held here every year. So don't be surprised to see a traffic jam of limos in the circular driveway during your stay – and do watch for your favorite actor strolling into the lobby wearing black tie. Enjoy a Mai Tai at Trader Vic's (where it was invented), take a dip in the Olympic-sized swimming pool or simply relax with a treatment at the Aqua Star Spa. As an added bonus, the rooms are spacious and most have great views of the surrounding city.
Still known as the "Pretty Woman" hotel (as memorable scenes from that classic film were shot here), management of the Beverly Wilshire was recently taken over by the Four Seasons Hotels and it shows. Impeccable service and beautiful rooms await, all right at the beginning of Rodeo Drive. Add in the welcoming spa, secluded pool and Wolfgang Puck's award-winning Cut steakhouse and you've got a hotel that puts others to shame. Plus, there's almost always a celebrity-filled event happening in their posh ballroom, so star spotting is a snap here. The hotel is split into two halves, with the valet parking bisecting the parts; for views of Rodeo Drive and the hills beyond, be sure to book into the front section, facing Wilshire Boulevard.
The Montage Beverly Hills Hotel is a gem, located steps from Rodeo Drive and the rest of the BH shopping district. Boasting 55 suites, 201 rooms and Spa Montage (20,000 square feet of bliss), the hotel was the first in Southern California to receive Gold LEED certification for its commitment to sustainability. Plus, there's Scarpetta, Chef Scott Conant's Italian marvel, serving up his signature Spaghetti Tomato and Basil and other delicious tidbits, and the rooftop pool that looks out across Beverly Hills. The Montage also features residences, so if you absolutely love the place, you can simply buy one and move right in.
The Four Seasons is the undisputed king of L.A. hotels. For this is where the staff prides itself on knowing the clientele personally and catering to every guest's specific needs. You'll know you've made the "A" list from the moment you enter the lobby and see the massive, always spectacular yet ever-changing floral arrangement; and don't be surprised if one of Hollywood's top stars is checking in, too. For movie junkets (interviews with the stars held before a film release) happen here almost every weekend. But don't even try to book in on Oscar Sunday, for the Four Seasons is always filled to the hilt with nominees then. Be sure to visit Culina for a spectacular meal and enjoy a treatment at the award-winning spa. And hit the pool, too, where star sightings are commonplace.