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L.A. beach vacation - best areas and hotels to stay?

First time to Los Angeles this summer for 10 days and we don't plan on leaving the beach! There will be 3 of us total and we'd like to stay a few days in different beach towns. Also, what hotels are best? We're looking for mid-priced hotels, but want to treat ourselves a few nights, so looking for splurge-worthy hotels too. Thanks!

9 Answers

top answer by
JR from Manhattan Beach

You'll have a blast. Here's a break down of noteworthy beach cities from north to south and a place to stay in each. (spoiler alert -- I live in Manhattan Beach so i think it's be best!)

1. Malibu - There aren't many places to stay up there, so the Malibu Beach Inn kinda wins by default. I would say this would be a splurge hotel (around $500/night). It's location is right on the water and short walk to pier and surfrider beach. Plenty of celebrity sighting options up that way too. 

2. Santa Monica - The Shore Hotel is a new, clean, green hotel with perfect location to walk to everything in Santa Monica. ($400+ per night)

3. Venice Beach - Hotel Erwin was recently remodeled and turned into a hipster hangout complete with rooftop bar. Plenty of locals grab cocktails here. ($300/night)

4. Manhattan Beach - Shade Hotel isn't on the beach but it's the only hotel central to all the shopping/dining in Manhattan Beach (which has the best beach in LA along with great a great little beach city vibe... but i'm biased, i live here :)) Shade goes for about $300/night.

5. Hermosa Beach - Beach House Hotel Hermosa Beach Hermosa is a younger/partier version of Manhattan Beach and the beach house has the perfect location if that's your jam. approx $300+ per night. 

6. Laguna Beach - Montage Laguna Beach isn't technically in LA, but i think it's one of the nicest hotels in the world if you consider location and amenities. Definitely a splurge at $700+ per night. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Malibu Beach Inn (hotel)
  2. Shore Hotel (hotel)
  3. Hotel Erwin (hotel)
  4. Shade Hotel (hotel)
  5. Beach House Hotel Hermosa Beach (hotel)
  6. Montage Laguna Beach (hotel)
5 thanks

answered by
greg from Manhattan Beach

The one thing LA could use more of is beach front hotels.  That is surprising given how much coastline we have, but somehow we never figured it out.  That said, we do have a number of cool neighborhood beach-oriented places that do the job of giving travelers a taste of the local beach culture.

From my perspective, it is hard to beat Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach as communities given how clean the beaches are + the quality and fun factor of new neighborhood restaurants is as good as anywhere in the world.  Seems like other Angelenos and travelers are slowly figuring this out, but as a local who hates traffic, I'm glad slowly..  The two best hotels, hands down, are Shade Hotel and the Beach House Hotel Hermosa Beach.  As for restaurants, Simmzy's and Little Sister are A+ in their own way and definitely have a local vibe. In Hermosa,Palmilla Cocina Y Tequila is a small restaurant on Pier Ave that has great food and cocktails.  While the staff may be a little heavy on the "please check out the tattoos on by huge biceps" factor, the cocktails make up for it.  Given that your are out of town women looking for a good time, maybe this is a good thing.  You have to try their spicy margarita with mint and cucumber. (my wife loved it - or did she love who delivered it)

For Venice Beach and Santa Monica, tons to choose from: Hotel Casa Del Mar and Shutters On the Beach for beach front and 5 star, The Huntley Hotel for a little urban chic.  A great value is a stealthy little hotel called Jamaica Bay Inn in Marina Del Rey.  It is on the water, bright and modern, and was recently renovated.  As far as restaurants in the area: Joan's on Third Cafe is opening soon, Capo is a small but incredible spot, as is Via Veneto on Main Street.  For a great festive bar for people watching, The Bungalow at Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows is fun scene.  In this area, the list is endless.  SM is a bit more urban feeling than the SouthBay (Manhattan and Hermosa), really cool.

In my estimation, Malibu Beach is more of a day trip, but if you want to stay the night, The Malibu Beach Inn is on the water really nice in a boutiquey way.  Also, definitely try to get a water from table at Nobu Malibu during the afternoon or at sunset.  You'd be hard pressed to have a better overall experience then eating beautiful food, surrounded by beautiful people, with the Pacific Ocean as your backdrop.  BOOK IN ADVANCE!

If you're doing a trip to Newport Beach or Orange County, The Montage Laguna Beach is the best of the best.  There is also a The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point and a new resort called The Resort At Pelican Hill.  All will set you back a bit, but are uber luxury.  Montage is cool because the Mosaic Bar & Grille is easy and casual and if you're into michelin star grub, Studio is amazing.  

Hope this helps.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Manhattan Beach (city)
  2. Hermosa Beach (city)
  3. Shade Hotel (hotel)
  4. Beach House Hotel Hermosa Beach (hotel)
  5. Simmzy's (restaurant)
  6. Little Sister (restaurant)
  7. Palmilla Cocina Y Tequila (restaurant)
  8. Venice Beach (city)
  9. Santa Monica (city)
  10. Hotel Casa Del Mar (hotel)
  11. Shutters On the Beach (hotel)
  12. The Huntley Hotel (hotel)
  13. Jamaica Bay Inn (hotel)
  14. Marina Del Rey (city)
  15. Joan's on Third Cafe (restaurant)
  16. Capo (restaurant)
  17. Via Veneto (restaurant)
  18. The Bungalow (attraction)
  19. Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows (hotel)
  20. Malibu Beach (attraction)
  21. Malibu Beach Inn (hotel)
  22. Nobu Malibu (restaurant)
  23. Newport Beach (city)
  24. Orange County (attraction)
  25. Montage Laguna Beach (hotel)
  26. The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (hotel)
  27. The Resort At Pelican Hill (hotel)
  28. Mosaic Bar & Grille (restaurant)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Michelle from Los Angeles

Hey Lindsay, 

If you want the real "Venice experience", I would check out the new The Rose Hotel Venice, which is still pretty unknown, but sits right off the Venice Boardwalk. It's in a prime location, within walking distance from Abbot Kinney, Main Street and of course, the beach! Plus, one of Venice's beloved brunch/lunchtime eateries Venice Ale House is right across the street -- you'll definitely want to go there to enjoy some cocktails and healthy bites while soaking in the unmatched people watching that the Boardwalk offers. The hotel was just opened this past year by two British fashion photographers Glen Luchford and Doug Bruce, and thus the hotel reflects this creative, aesthetically inclined spirit. Each room is unique and feels homey yet chic. Depending on the size room, they range from about $180 to upwards of $300 per night. Enjoy your trip! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Rose Hotel Venice (hotel)
  2. Venice Ale House (neighborhood)
3 thanks

answered by
Jason from Los Angeles

You'll definitely want to see Venice Beach. It's not the fanciest beach community in the LA area, but it's the most interesting and certainly the most storied. My favorite hotel in that area is Hotel Erwin. That's also where we (at Google) put up guests from other offices when they visit.

If you spend any time in Malibu, consider treating yourself to an Airbnb. Hotels in the area are pretty pricey and a bit on the stuffy side. As JR mentioned, Malibu Beach Inn is the clear winner if you're set on a hotel.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hotel Erwin (hotel)
  2. Malibu Beach Inn (hotel)
3 thanks

answered by
Lauren from Los Angeles

Santa Monica State Beach: Head to the north end of Santa Monica beach (away from the pier) to avoid huge crowds. Not only are there more places to set up your umbrella and chair, but you can also jump into a volleyball game with westsiders, who flock to the public courts on the weekends.  

 Santa Monica Hotels:  

Channel Road Inn, A Four Sisters Inn is a great place to stay if like a cozy b&b slightly off the beaten path. Plus, they have a free wine & cheese happy hour for their guests every evening. ($300 a night) 

 Palihouse Santa Monica is a classic old California 1920's lux boutique hotel located in the Montana neighborhood of SM. Each room is unique and a few feature a full kitchen. They also loan you swanky beach cruisers (not the green boardwalk rental bikes) during your stay. Best way to explore! ($350+ a night).  

 Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows on Ocean Ave is worth the splurge. The hotel will shuttle your group down to the beach and set up umbrellas and chairs on the beach. The shuttle is great, but I honestly love the walk down the cliffs from the hotel. It's about a 10 minute walk and the views are amazing. ($450+ a night, bungalows $800+ a night).

3 thanks

answered by
Courtney from Los Angeles

I would say...

Santa Monica - while the beach area can get a little crowded, the actual city of Santa Monica is absolutely lovely. For hotels I would check out Viceroy Santa Monica which I love so much I designed my living room after. It's a Kelly Werstler designed hotel and it is a stunner, although not cheap. I would also look into Shutters On the Beach which is a Cape Cod-style hotel that is right on the beach. Again, not cheap but you said you would be interested in some splurge worthy options. Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is a little cheaper, if a little less enthralling. It's the kind of hotel you stay at if you're attending a convention--feels very business-y. I also love Hotel Casa Del Mar which is just steps from the beach and soooo beautiful! A splurge, but a good one! If you want a "budget" hotel in SM, try the The Ambrose which, while not cheap, is not exorbitant for this area. 

I'm not a huge fan of the Venice Beach Boardwalk (a little too incense-y for me) but I'm very much in the minority so you might want to check it out. Inn at Marina Del Rey is a good, moderately priced hotel that, while not right on the beach is easily within walking distance. 

There's a great place in Malibu Beach called the Malibu Beach Inn that's right on the beach. Definitely a splurge place but worth it--just make sure you ask for a room with a view as not all of them have one. 

I'd also recommend having a look at the South Bay area which is just south of Los Angeles and much less touristy. I just remembered the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach and Marina is there and does have some really good specials.  

3 thanks

answered by
Jake from Los Angeles

Hi Lindsay, for a beach break, you and your friends might like a couple nights in Santa Barbara 1.5hrs north of LA by car. The West Beach neighborhood has mid-priced hotels and is a short walk to great beaches like East Beach and Leadbetter Beach; it's also close to Santa Barbara Harbor and Santa Barbara Downtown where there are restaurants, bars, cafes and shops for a break from the sun & sand. In Los Angeles metro I second Malibu for the splurge, there are several great beaches to choose from along oceanfront highway California 1 :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santa Barbara (city)
  2. West Beach (attraction)
  3. East Beach (attraction)
  4. Leadbetter Beach (attraction)
  5. Santa Barbara Harbor (attraction)
  6. Santa Barbara Downtown (attraction)
  7. Malibu (city)
  8. California 1 (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by

Santa Monica is a wonderful beach side community with lots of great splurge worth hotels, including the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & BungalowsShutters On the BeachLoews Santa Monica Beach HotelThe Huntley HotelJW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot and the new Oceana Santa Monica. Or with a great location near the Santa Monica Pier and the Third Street Promenade the more budget friendly Wyndham Santa Monica at the Pier.

For a more laid back, all beach experience, head slightly north to Malibu and the Malibu Beach Inn.

1 thanks

answered first by
Kristal from San Francisco

Hi Lindsay,

MalibuMarina Del ReySanta MonicaManhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach are great areas. In my opinion Malibu is the most relaxing and has the most options in terms of gorgeous beaches. 



Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Malibu (city)
  2. Marina Del Rey (city)
  3. Santa Monica (city)
  4. Manhattan Beach (city)
  5. Hermosa Beach (city)
  6. Malibu (city)
1 thanks

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