After upscale stays in Santa Monica and San Francisco, Proper Hotels has opened a more budget-friendly (but no less stylish) base between the beach and LAX.
While Venice Beach hogs most of the coastal LA limelight, head a little further down Santa Monica Bay and you’ll hit lesser-known Playa del Rey. It’s a wonderfully chilled-out antidote to the urban hubbub, with its mellow seaside vibe and long stretch of laid-back coast. On this neighborhood’s eastern edge sits the Hotel June – an affordable spin-off from the Proper Hotels portfolio that’s a breezy and bohemian slice of Californian cool, complete with a Baja-inspired swim club, where you can knock back poolside oysters and small-batch tequila. What’s more, there’s still plenty to explore on your doorstep, using Hotel June as your base…
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.
Despite its proximity to LAX, the June is anything but an airport hotel. A retro-minimalist aesthetic combines Californian nostalgia with hints of Mexicana to gorgeous effect. Perhaps to be expected from the group that brought us Proper Hotels in Austin, San Francisco and, indeed, LA. The heated pool and adjacent bar-restaurant form the vibey Caravan Swim Club, where you’ll want to linger – mezcal cocktail or nitro cold brew in hand. Crisp and stylish guest rooms all come with luxe bedding, wireless charging docks and Aesop products. Plane-spotters should request a top-floor suite, where you can watch the runways through noise-canceling windows.
As well as the long stretch of Playa del Rey a short hop away, you have this small sheltered cove surrounded by yacht-studded Marina del Rey. It’s tucked away from the open ocean, so the water is usually glass-like calm and ideal for water sports – paddleboards and kayaks are available to rent. Also known as Mother’s Beach, conditions are great for the little ones, and there’s a playground right on the sand.
Just steps from the Hotel June, Cinco is a spacious contemporary cantina-style joint serving top-notch Mexican cooking. Reserve yourself a cushioned booth and settle into an evening of delicious Oaxacan dishes like queso fundido and mole negro with some kick-ass cocktails. They have literally dozens of mezcals to choose from, as well as featuring a rotating list of top locally brewed beers. There’s a great weekend brunch menu as well, plus happy-hour deals on food and drink.
If you’re keen to get out onto the water, head to Dock 52 and book yourself a boat trip. While sports fishing is a popular option, if you’d rather not interfere with the marine life, you can arrange a whale-watching and nature cruise. Although you’re not guaranteed to see any of the several varieties of migratory whales, there are usually plenty of sea lions, dolphins and pelicans to be spotted off the coast.
You won’t find many swathes of undeveloped natural habitat in LA, but the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve is one such place. It’s actually the last remaining coastal wetland in Los Angeles County, with a combination of salt and freshwater marshes, nature trails and uplands. It’s home to hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and mammals, so don’t forget to grab some binoculars before you go. Organized and self-guided tours are available.
With over 45 years serving up their legendary burgers to westside Angelenos, the Shack is an instantly recognizable restaurant just a block from the beach. Its dive-bar vibe hasn’t changed since the Seventies, and the same could be said for some of its more loyal clientele. Regular deals, fiestas and karaoke nights mix things up, but it’s the hometown feel, friendly service and low prices that keep customers coming back for more.
Fisherman’s Village offers up quaint waterside restaurants, boardwalk shopping and numerous on-the-water activities. Its neat row of brightly colored buildings emulate a New England fishing village, with a whitewashed lighthouse standing in the midst. You can rent all kinds of seafaring gear, from jet skis to paddleboards; book yourself on board a luxury boat for dining cruises, or even take to the skies with a spot of parasailing.
Over in neighboring Inglewood, the Forum looms up like a sleek contemporary take on the Roman Colosseum. The iconic venue hosts the biggest names in show business and is the only arena-sized venue in the country completely dedicated to live music and entertainment. An outdoor wraparound terrace offers comfy seating and loads of food stalls, while indoors a tinted glass wall separates more eating and drinking options from the arena, ensuring you don’t have to miss a moment of the show.
Cycle along the seafront to Manhattan Beach and you’ll find Campsurf, whose goal it is to make California’s preordained pastime fun and safe for all. Set up in 1998 by LA County lifeguard and keen surfer, Jimmy Miller, who loved traveling the world from Tahiti to Fiji, Bali to Australia, it’s now run by a team of pros, some hailing from Hawaii, others who describe themselves as “part walrus.” Though it may take you a while to master their skills, they do offer beginner, intermediate and advanced classes here, as well as kids classes and longer surf camps.
Surfing not your thing? Also in Manhattan Beach is Sweat Yoga, which offers drop-in classes of a more athletic style of yoga, heated to 100F (37C), with great music always in residence, as well as more chilled-out, restorative sessions, such as candlelight yin. They also run one-off classes themed around ’90s hip hip or dosed with CBD. If you don’t feel like an LA local after that, you may need a sound bath. Which, happily, they also do…
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.