For a slice of the more laid-back side of LA life, head to coastal Venice Beach, where the white sands are as beautiful as the boardwalk is buzzy. More relaxed than neighboring Santa Monica, with a trendier hippie vibe, this is California living at its best.
If LA is famous for its health-conscious, yoga-focused, green-juice sipping outlook on life, then Venice Beach is its epicenter. This beachside neighborhood has long been the home of artists and creatives, skateboarders and surfers, and plenty of budding actors, too. It’s also one of the city’s coolest areas and indeed renowned for exciting, health-centered eateries such as Gjelina and sister bakery Gjusta. Uncover this ultra-hip area with a stay at one of the best hotels around.
The mural-adorned exterior of The Kinney is a good indicator of the fun-and-games vibe you’ll find inside. The fairy light-illuminated AstroTurf courtyard is primed for rounds of rowdy beer pong with several ping-pong tables, while the dreamy pool is perfect for cooling off from the LA heat. Perch with a morning coffee, or watch the sky turn cotton-candy pink with a margarita cocktail at sunset. Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a 10-minute stroll away, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. Be sure to book ahead to nab a table at local favorite Gjelina.
Wake up to views over Venice Beach’s palm-fringed boardwalk, or fall asleep to the lapping of the waves – this is about as close as you can get to the ocean while still being on solid ground. Pack your low-key beach gear to blend in with the trendy crowd – both at the beach and the hotel’s popular rooftop bar. It’s a prime spot for a cocktail and a late-night boogie under the stars, before retreating to your enormous comfy bed for a blissful night’s sleep.
The Inn at Venice Beach is all about friendly vibes and wallet-friendly prices. While rooms are kept simple with burnt orange feature walls, the communal areas turn heads with beaded light fittings and colorful murals. Venice Beach and its famous boardwalk are just five minutes away on foot, so you can beat the crowds and pick your spot for watching the tide roll in underneath a glowing sunset. And when you want to explore further afield, simply hop on the bus, which stops directly outside the hotel, to be whisked away to another corner of the City of Angels.
In its former life as a roadside motel, The Rose Hotel Venice hosted famous personalities including Charlie Chaplin and Jim Morrison. Recently refurbished by fashion photographers Glen Luchford and Doug Bruce, the modern-day offering is a low-fuss, breezy option that suits its trendy beachside locale. Rooms vary from family-size to en-suite doubles and rooms with a shared bathroom – perfect for those who intend to spend most of their time exploring the area. Breakfast is a casual affair, served in the lobby with pastries, breads and jams from the much-loved Gjusta.
Overlooking the Venice Beach Boardwalk, this old building feels a little incongruous with the crowded beachfront and clapboard buildings that surround it. A thorough exploration of Venice, however, will soon reveal that this sort of contrast isn’t particularly unusual, so in that sense it doesn’t seem so out of place. Inside, rooms come with monochrome decor and sweeping ocean views – in fact, you’ll be so close to the Pacific you could more or less roll out of bed and into the water. But not before grabbing your surfboard first.
Arty surfboards mounted on exposed brick walls give Venice Breeze Suites that laid-back surfer vibe you’re probably looking for, while the fully equipped kitchen adds plenty of self-catering appeal. After a few days, you may even start to feel like a local – and when you wake up to Pacific views each morning you might just be tempted to stay and make that a reality. When you’re not riding crests and swells, soak up the sun that LA is so famous for on a rooftop lounger, or head out to explore nearby cafés and restaurants like Felix – a delightful Italian transplant where fresh pasta is made right before your eyes.