Hotels with history might not be what you readily associate with glitzy Los Angeles. But the world’s celebrity capital is home to dozens of establishments that have been open for the best part of a century, offering guests a fascinating insight into the city’s racy past. Read on for our pick of the the best historic hotels in Los Angeles, from a Beverly Hills landmark known as the Pink Palace to a world-famous haven for visiting celebrities.
Hotel Normandie’s rooftop neon sign has been a feature of the Koreatown skyline ever since it opened in 1926. It was designed by Albert Walker and Percy Eisen, celebrated architects who also completed the city’s ornate Fine Arts Building a year later. Modern renovations have fused Normandie’s Hollywood Golden Age classicism with LA chic, but plenty of original features remain at this historic hotel, including grand mahogany doors, a reconstruction of the mansard roofing and Cassell’s, an on-site diner that opened in 1948 – the cheeseburger and fried chicken sando are must-tries.
Spanish Colonial-style Figueroa opened as a safe haven for female travelers in 1926, making it one of Downtown LA’s oldest and most historic hotels. Original touches – such as exposed-brick showers and stone fireplaces – abound, but the 268-room Fig’s 21st-century credentials are impeccable: guests can relax around Downtown’s only ground-floor pool, take private yoga classes at the 24/7 fitness center, or sample the creations of celebrated chef Adrian Garcia at in-house restaurants Breva and Veranda. Head to one of the hotel’s two classy bars, Figueroa and Alta, for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail.
The five-star Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire sits at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, in the heart of this exclusive city. Opened in 1928, it’s still synonymous with decadence and luxury, offering guests the opportunity to tour the boutiques of Rodeo Drive with a private shopper, treat themselves to a massage in the spa or take a helicopter tour. There are also two top-notch eateries on site at this historic hotel in LA: Wolfgang Puck’s Michelin-star steakhouse CUT and Californian cuisine specialist THE Blvd, which has a sought-after terrace overlooking Rodeo Drive.
Sunset Boulevard’s iconic Chateau Marmont has been a temporary base for dozens of legendary artists throughout the decades, from F Scott Fitzgerald to Courtney Love. Commissioned in 1927 by a leading LA lawyer, it was inspired by the Château d’Amboise – a royal residence in France’s Loire Valley, where Catherine de’ Medici and Henry II raised their children in the 16th century. Now, this historic hotel in Los Angeles offers 63 rooms, suites, cottages and bungalows, laid-back staff with stories to tell, its own line of memorabilia and ample opportunities for celebrity-spotting.
As well as being an Art Deco masterpiece, the Sunset Tower Hotel is almost as much of a Hollywood icon as the hilltop sign itself. Opened in 1931, it was for many decades (and arguably still is) the coolest hangout in West Hollywood, attracting stars such as Frank Sinatra, John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe. Hotelier Jeff Klein purchased the property in 2004, adding what has become one of LA’s sleekest after-dark hangouts, the Tower Bar (another great place for celebrity-spotting). There’s also a pool with city views, a spa and gym, and luxury pet facilities (of course).
The beachfront Palihouse Santa Monica was opened by Paligroup owner and designer Avi Brosh in 2013, but this historic LA hotel’s backstory stretches back far beyond. Its elegant Mediterranean Revival buildings have served as accommodations since they were built in 1927 (formerly as the Embassy Hotel Apartments) and were named a Santa Monica Historic Landmark 70 years later. Brosh now offers beach-chic accommodations for short and medium-term stays, kitted out with his own custom furnishings and characterized by what he’s described as a “bohemian, European, urban vibe.”
LA’s branch of the renowned Japanese franchise is found in Little Tokyo, just a few minutes’ walk from the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Japanese American National Museum. Accommodations consist of 173 smart, sober-hued bedrooms, ranging in size from Standards to Double-Double Executives, some of which feature Japanese-style baths, Before heading out to explore Little Tokyo, try the hotel’s Ohjah Bar for a cocktail (or for karaoke when you get back), or grab a bite at on-site restaurant Tamon, one of the neighborhood’s finest sushi joints.
For more options, check out our guide to the best luxury hotels in Los Angeles – and book your stay on Culture Trip.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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