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1977 guide on where to stay in L.A.

Downtown, Hollywood, Westwood, Santa Monica

Los Angeles, our sprawling, smog-bound neighbor to the north, presents a troublesome dilemma to those of us tempted by her many attractions. The 120-mile jaunt there to see King Tut’s golden mask or the movie which will never find its way to San Diego is made the more tolerable thanks to eager anticipation. But the return trip is another matter. Unless one is fortunate enough to have friends or relatives in the area who don’t mind occasional guests, what began as a holiday in the big city can easily end up a miserable, tiring struggle to get home and safely to bed. Even the prospect of navigating the freeways after two a.m. is enough to discourage the most determined culture seekers.

There are, of course, alternatives to the automobile. Commercial bus lines offer frequent San Diego/Los Angeles runs. The air fare to LAX or Burbank is certainly within the budget of many (however, getting anywhere in Los Angeles from either airport poses serious problems). Amtrak’s trains to Union Station have lately enjoyed unprecedented ridership, and L.A.’s Music Center is just minutes away from the depot.

Still, most of us rely on our cars, and it’s true that certain areas in Los Angeles (West-wood, for example) are complicated destinations without the aid of an automobile. Rather than risk the strained, late-night drive home, and better than forgoing the Big Orange altogether, one should consider planning an overnight stay. Your sojourn will be that much more a real vacation (there’s nothing quite like a bed in a strange, eccentric hotel to inform you of your status as a bona fide tourist), and you’ll have the opportunity of at least an extra half-day to explore even further.

The following hotels have been grouped geographically. Those in the downtown area are older and, as one might expect, less expensive. Generally, they are more charming. Hollywood, Westwood, and Santa Monica, in that order, are less interesting. Obviously, there are many more hotels and motels from which to choose, but it is hoped that this modest sample will encourage a more leisurely, enjoyable experience in Los Angeles, and avert the grim possibility of inflating the CHP’s mortality statistics.

DOWNTOWN

For those arriving by bus or train, the downtown area may be the most convenient. Located nearby are the Music Center, Little Tokyo, Olvera Street, Chinatown, the financial district, the Central Market, and Skid Row. Many city buses begin here, and by calling 626-4455 it is possible to obtain information on routes and schedules.

  • Hotel Cecil
  • 640 S. Main Street (624-3841)
  • Single, $6-S10; Double $7.
  • The Hotel Cecil is in the heart of downtown, skirting Skid Row by a comfortable margin. It is within easy walking distance of both the Trail ways and Greyhound bus depots, and a short bus ride from Union Station. In an attempt to lend some sort of international atmosphere, flags of many nations are hung around the lobby. In fact, many foreigners do stay here (it is not entirely clear why). The neighborhood is a little funky, but the management of the Cecil obviously have tried to keep a clean, safe, reasonably priced hotel in spite of it all. Highly recommended as an excellent value.
  • Hayward Hotel
  • 206 W. Sixth Street (623-1464)
  • Single, $11.60-$15.84; Double, $17.90.
  • Riding up in the creaky elevator, the security man commented that the building is 100 years old. While that claim may seem extreme, there is no denying a certain musty maturity exuding from the carpets and walls. The rooms are small but not claustrophobic. It is clean enough for those in search of a room, but is not recommended for the terminally depressed.
  • Biola Hotel
  • 536 S. Hope Street (627-9941)
  • Single, $9.54-$12.72; Double, $12.72-$15.90.
  • The Biola is located at the end of Hope Street adjacent to the L.A. Central Library. There is very little traffic noise and the neighborhood is pleasant and safe. The Biola is surrounded by the skyscrapers of the financial district and is within spitting distance of hundreds of thousands of books. An interior decorator with an apparent mania for April-in-Paris has painted pastel watercolor-style flowers that wind around the walls of the lobby. The rooms are small but clean and have an air of charm and character.
  • Hotel Californian
  • 1907 W. Sixth Street (483-6110)
  • Single, $7.36; Double, $9.84.
  • There’s a color TV in the lobby, but that’s about as far as the entertainment goes here. Once owned by Jack Dempsey, the Californian has clearly gone more than a few rounds itself. The location is a little far from downtown, but being in the Westlake district has its advantages. Dave, the man behind the desk, will fill you in on the historical highlights of the area if you ask. The rooms aren’t exactly cheerful and bright, but for $7 a night what do you want — pink champagne on ice?

HOLLYWOOD

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As many people have pointed out, Hollywood is an area that offers the best and the worst of modern culture. A wildly heterogeneous community, it ranges from the delights of Silverlake, the Greek Theatre, Griffith Park, the Roxy, the Whiskey, and the Chinese Theatre, to the countless hole-in-the-wall massage parlors and sex shops. After tranquil San Diego, a visit to Hollywood should be followed by a good night’s rest.

  • Time Motel
  • 1615 Western (462-6945)
  • Single, $12.75; Double, same (two beds, $16.75).
  • The Time Motel is not the place to while hours away, but it is functional and nowhere near as seamy as the Roxy Hotel across the street. There is a swimming pool to relax the weary body, and TVs in all the rooms to massage the mind. The customers seem to be mainly families, not transients, which is always a good sign. A notice hanging in the lobby warns, “No Putas Allowed,” so keep yours at home if you’re planning on staying here.
  • Hastings Hotel
  • 6162 Hollywood Boulevard (464-4136)
  • Single, $6.50-$10.60; Double, $11,50-$l 5.50.
  • There are rooms here as cheap as $5 but as the elderly manager observed laconically, “They aren’t usually available.” The building is 40 years old but seems older. It is vaguely depressing in the dark, high halls, but the rooms are clean. The staff is friendly and helpful, and like the hotel itself, slightly seedy in a comfortably worn-out way.
  • Gilbert Hotel
  • 1550 Wilcox (465-3141)
  • Single, $9.54; Double, $12.72.
  • The Gilbert is just around the corner from a YMCA and thus receives many of the overflow customers. The entrance to the lobby is shaded by a clump of trees that highlight a bubbling mosaic fountain just in front of the main entrance. The rooms are decent and well-kept. The location is quiet and sunny even though it is just around the corner from Hollywood and Vine.
  • Sunset Doheny Motel
  • 8970 Sunset (273-4730)
  • Single, $15; Double, $18.
  • The Sunset Doheny is right in the center of the Strip, just across the street from the Roxy and the Whiskey. The foliage around the small courtyard is healthy and well-tended. The beds are serviceable and the curtains look new. It has a pleasant, light atmosphere, and for the location, it can’t be beat.

WESTWOOD

The Westwood Village/UCLA area is fairly distant from the downtown bus and train stations. It is probably easier to take a bus from San Diego to the Santa Monica depot and then transfer. There are many theaters, good restaurants, bars, and shops here, and the nighttime street market offers a large variety of homegrown artifacts.

  • Hotel Claremont
  • 1044 Tiverton Avenue (473-0957)
  • Single, $12; Double, $13 (two beds, $18).
  • The Claremont is a tasteful medium-sized hotel located a scant three blocks from UCLA. It has what other hotel owners say are the lowest prices in Westwood. The rooms are clean, tidy, and furnished with wonderful carved-wood bureaus and beds. Like many parts of Westwood, the location is green and shady, ideal for concentrating on the more distant vistas visible only from the Ivory Tower. Highly recommended for both you and your grandmother.
  • Westwood Inn
  • 10820 Wilshire Boulevard (474-1573)
  • Single, $17.50; Double, $21.
  • The Westwood Inn is only a few blocks from the Claremont, but the difference in price is attributed to the “better facilities” available, such as cable TV and parking. The rooms are dark and somewhat cramped but do have kitchenettes for those who like homemade food. Close to both the Santa Monica and San Diego freeways, the West-wood can also be reached via Bus #83 from Santa Monica.

SANTA MONICA

The Santa Monica/Venice areas are experiencing a rejuvenation of sorts, but most people still seem to prefer staying on the Santa Monica side of the border, where the pleasures of the boardwalk are becoming more well-known. For those who enjoy jazz, there are several clubs in the area featuring some of Los Angeles’ finest musicians.

  • Flamingo West
  • 1733 Ocean Avenue (393-9701)
  • Single, $16 (weekdays), $18 (weekends); Double, same prices, weekdays and weekends.

As the name implies, the Flamingo has some pretensions to a more gaudy. Las Vegas-style glory. The carpets are orange-shag, the furniture is undistinguished, and there isn’t a slot machine in sight. Although the hotel is directly across the street from the ocean, and captures the sea breeze, the rooms seem to be uncomfortably warm. Though very clean and functional, the Flamingo’s plastic decor calls to mind images of Wayne Newton and Paul Williams. Depressing.

  • Ocean Lodge
  • 1667 Ocean Avenue
  • Single and Double, $15 (two double beds).

The rooms here are so small that the double beds barely fit. However, the bathrooms are large enough to change clothes in. Like the Flamingo, which is only a block away, there is a problem with traffic noise. While Lodge rooms are sparsely decorated and tend to the prefabricated, they are clean and reasonably priced for the area. There is no pool, but the Pacific Ocean is only a stone’s throw away.

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Los Angeles, our sprawling, smog-bound neighbor to the north, presents a troublesome dilemma to those of us tempted by her many attractions. The 120-mile jaunt there to see King Tut’s golden mask or the movie which will never find its way to San Diego is made the more tolerable thanks to eager anticipation. But the return trip is another matter. Unless one is fortunate enough to have friends or relatives in the area who don’t mind occasional guests, what began as a holiday in the big city can easily end up a miserable, tiring struggle to get home and safely to bed. Even the prospect of navigating the freeways after two a.m. is enough to discourage the most determined culture seekers.

There are, of course, alternatives to the automobile. Commercial bus lines offer frequent San Diego/Los Angeles runs. The air fare to LAX or Burbank is certainly within the budget of many (however, getting anywhere in Los Angeles from either airport poses serious problems). Amtrak’s trains to Union Station have lately enjoyed unprecedented ridership, and L.A.’s Music Center is just minutes away from the depot.

Still, most of us rely on our cars, and it’s true that certain areas in Los Angeles (West-wood, for example) are complicated destinations without the aid of an automobile. Rather than risk the strained, late-night drive home, and better than forgoing the Big Orange altogether, one should consider planning an overnight stay. Your sojourn will be that much more a real vacation (there’s nothing quite like a bed in a strange, eccentric hotel to inform you of your status as a bona fide tourist), and you’ll have the opportunity of at least an extra half-day to explore even further.

The following hotels have been grouped geographically. Those in the downtown area are older and, as one might expect, less expensive. Generally, they are more charming. Hollywood, Westwood, and Santa Monica, in that order, are less interesting. Obviously, there are many more hotels and motels from which to choose, but it is hoped that this modest sample will encourage a more leisurely, enjoyable experience in Los Angeles, and avert the grim possibility of inflating the CHP’s mortality statistics.

DOWNTOWN

For those arriving by bus or train, the downtown area may be the most convenient. Located nearby are the Music Center, Little Tokyo, Olvera Street, Chinatown, the financial district, the Central Market, and Skid Row. Many city buses begin here, and by calling 626-4455 it is possible to obtain information on routes and schedules.

  • Hotel Cecil
  • 640 S. Main Street (624-3841)
  • Single, $6-S10; Double $7.
  • The Hotel Cecil is in the heart of downtown, skirting Skid Row by a comfortable margin. It is within easy walking distance of both the Trail ways and Greyhound bus depots, and a short bus ride from Union Station. In an attempt to lend some sort of international atmosphere, flags of many nations are hung around the lobby. In fact, many foreigners do stay here (it is not entirely clear why). The neighborhood is a little funky, but the management of the Cecil obviously have tried to keep a clean, safe, reasonably priced hotel in spite of it all. Highly recommended as an excellent value.
  • Hayward Hotel
  • 206 W. Sixth Street (623-1464)
  • Single, $11.60-$15.84; Double, $17.90.
  • Riding up in the creaky elevator, the security man commented that the building is 100 years old. While that claim may seem extreme, there is no denying a certain musty maturity exuding from the carpets and walls. The rooms are small but not claustrophobic. It is clean enough for those in search of a room, but is not recommended for the terminally depressed.
  • Biola Hotel
  • 536 S. Hope Street (627-9941)
  • Single, $9.54-$12.72; Double, $12.72-$15.90.
  • The Biola is located at the end of Hope Street adjacent to the L.A. Central Library. There is very little traffic noise and the neighborhood is pleasant and safe. The Biola is surrounded by the skyscrapers of the financial district and is within spitting distance of hundreds of thousands of books. An interior decorator with an apparent mania for April-in-Paris has painted pastel watercolor-style flowers that wind around the walls of the lobby. The rooms are small but clean and have an air of charm and character.
  • Hotel Californian
  • 1907 W. Sixth Street (483-6110)
  • Single, $7.36; Double, $9.84.
  • There’s a color TV in the lobby, but that’s about as far as the entertainment goes here. Once owned by Jack Dempsey, the Californian has clearly gone more than a few rounds itself. The location is a little far from downtown, but being in the Westlake district has its advantages. Dave, the man behind the desk, will fill you in on the historical highlights of the area if you ask. The rooms aren’t exactly cheerful and bright, but for $7 a night what do you want — pink champagne on ice?

HOLLYWOOD

Sponsored
Sponsored

As many people have pointed out, Hollywood is an area that offers the best and the worst of modern culture. A wildly heterogeneous community, it ranges from the delights of Silverlake, the Greek Theatre, Griffith Park, the Roxy, the Whiskey, and the Chinese Theatre, to the countless hole-in-the-wall massage parlors and sex shops. After tranquil San Diego, a visit to Hollywood should be followed by a good night’s rest.

  • Time Motel
  • 1615 Western (462-6945)
  • Single, $12.75; Double, same (two beds, $16.75).
  • The Time Motel is not the place to while hours away, but it is functional and nowhere near as seamy as the Roxy Hotel across the street. There is a swimming pool to relax the weary body, and TVs in all the rooms to massage the mind. The customers seem to be mainly families, not transients, which is always a good sign. A notice hanging in the lobby warns, “No Putas Allowed,” so keep yours at home if you’re planning on staying here.
  • Hastings Hotel
  • 6162 Hollywood Boulevard (464-4136)
  • Single, $6.50-$10.60; Double, $11,50-$l 5.50.
  • There are rooms here as cheap as $5 but as the elderly manager observed laconically, “They aren’t usually available.” The building is 40 years old but seems older. It is vaguely depressing in the dark, high halls, but the rooms are clean. The staff is friendly and helpful, and like the hotel itself, slightly seedy in a comfortably worn-out way.
  • Gilbert Hotel
  • 1550 Wilcox (465-3141)
  • Single, $9.54; Double, $12.72.
  • The Gilbert is just around the corner from a YMCA and thus receives many of the overflow customers. The entrance to the lobby is shaded by a clump of trees that highlight a bubbling mosaic fountain just in front of the main entrance. The rooms are decent and well-kept. The location is quiet and sunny even though it is just around the corner from Hollywood and Vine.
  • Sunset Doheny Motel
  • 8970 Sunset (273-4730)
  • Single, $15; Double, $18.
  • The Sunset Doheny is right in the center of the Strip, just across the street from the Roxy and the Whiskey. The foliage around the small courtyard is healthy and well-tended. The beds are serviceable and the curtains look new. It has a pleasant, light atmosphere, and for the location, it can’t be beat.

WESTWOOD

The Westwood Village/UCLA area is fairly distant from the downtown bus and train stations. It is probably easier to take a bus from San Diego to the Santa Monica depot and then transfer. There are many theaters, good restaurants, bars, and shops here, and the nighttime street market offers a large variety of homegrown artifacts.

  • Hotel Claremont
  • 1044 Tiverton Avenue (473-0957)
  • Single, $12; Double, $13 (two beds, $18).
  • The Claremont is a tasteful medium-sized hotel located a scant three blocks from UCLA. It has what other hotel owners say are the lowest prices in Westwood. The rooms are clean, tidy, and furnished with wonderful carved-wood bureaus and beds. Like many parts of Westwood, the location is green and shady, ideal for concentrating on the more distant vistas visible only from the Ivory Tower. Highly recommended for both you and your grandmother.
  • Westwood Inn
  • 10820 Wilshire Boulevard (474-1573)
  • Single, $17.50; Double, $21.
  • The Westwood Inn is only a few blocks from the Claremont, but the difference in price is attributed to the “better facilities” available, such as cable TV and parking. The rooms are dark and somewhat cramped but do have kitchenettes for those who like homemade food. Close to both the Santa Monica and San Diego freeways, the West-wood can also be reached via Bus #83 from Santa Monica.

SANTA MONICA

The Santa Monica/Venice areas are experiencing a rejuvenation of sorts, but most people still seem to prefer staying on the Santa Monica side of the border, where the pleasures of the boardwalk are becoming more well-known. For those who enjoy jazz, there are several clubs in the area featuring some of Los Angeles’ finest musicians.

  • Flamingo West
  • 1733 Ocean Avenue (393-9701)
  • Single, $16 (weekdays), $18 (weekends); Double, same prices, weekdays and weekends.

As the name implies, the Flamingo has some pretensions to a more gaudy. Las Vegas-style glory. The carpets are orange-shag, the furniture is undistinguished, and there isn’t a slot machine in sight. Although the hotel is directly across the street from the ocean, and captures the sea breeze, the rooms seem to be uncomfortably warm. Though very clean and functional, the Flamingo’s plastic decor calls to mind images of Wayne Newton and Paul Williams. Depressing.

  • Ocean Lodge
  • 1667 Ocean Avenue
  • Single and Double, $15 (two double beds).

The rooms here are so small that the double beds barely fit. However, the bathrooms are large enough to change clothes in. Like the Flamingo, which is only a block away, there is a problem with traffic noise. While Lodge rooms are sparsely decorated and tend to the prefabricated, they are clean and reasonably priced for the area. There is no pool, but the Pacific Ocean is only a stone’s throw away.

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