Screens, Starlets and Studios: a Film Tour of LA

A visit to Paramount and other famous LA studios is all part of the Culture Trip package
A visit to Paramount and other famous LA studios is all part of the Culture Trip package | © David George / Alamy Stock Photo
Lucy Thackray

The Californian city synonymous with movie-making is a must for modern-day cinephiles – and this insider-led adventure takes you behind the scenes.

Though it’s actually a complex city with dozens of distinct neighborhoods, Los Angeles feels almost inseparable from Hollywood – home to a dazzling ecosystem of studio execs, starlets and scriptwriters.

“One of the best things about living here is the ability to see a wide range of films,” says Eric C Brightwell, a local cartographer and cataloguer of LA neighborhoods and their place in the city’s pop culture. “The Los Angeles Filmforum screens fantastic experimental films. The Old Town Music Hall is the best place to see silent pictures, and great arthouse cinemas include the New Beverly, Nuart Theatre and the Egyptian – as well as multiple film festivals and outdoor screenings.”

It’s also easy to learn about the movie-making heritage of LA via the gritty, vintage venues of the Hollywood district, in the pared-back studio stages that echo with myths and legends, and from film-buff tour guides with backstage tales to tell. Ready for your close-up? We’ve created a classic LA showreel that slices together tours of Beverly Hills and Bel Air and casts you in a leading role at a Downtown Los Angeles hotel, all bookable right here on Culture Trip.

Where to stay: the hotel

1. The Hotel Figueroa


The Hotel Figueroa
Courtesy of The Hotel Figueroa / Expedia

From the hotel that first hosted the Oscars to the five-star hideaway where Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor once stayed, the hotels of LA are the stuff of legend. However, the Hotel Figueroa – or simply the Fig, as it’s affectionately known – stands out. This legendary LA hangout has been welcoming the great and good for more than a century. After a red-carpet-ready makeover completed in 2018, it still leans tastefully into the vintage Spanish vibe, with cacti and palms by the blue-tiled pool, and hefty wood beams in the lobby and rooms. Feel like an A-lister as you lounge on the rooftop, sip craft cocktails in the bar or take over one of the suites. You’ll also find throwbacks to the Hollywood Golden Age in the neighborhood, with neon-signed movie palaces and the former United Artists Theatre Building.

What to do: the experiences

2. Private Hollywood Pop Culture Walking Tour


The tendency in LA to knock down old buildings in favor of something newer and shinier means the city history needs a bit of unlocking by someone who knows their stuff. During this experience, led by a well-versed local guide, you’ll be shown around Hollywood, visiting historic theaters and old-school-actor hangouts, and covering everything from salacious tales of bygone days to architecture and film trivia.

3. Guided Celebrity Bike Tour of Beverly Hills and Bel Air


Two of the most name-checked neighborhoods in LA, as seen-on-screen Beverly Hills (Julia Roberts’s stomping ground in the 1990 film Pretty Woman) and Bel Air (as seen in The Fresh Prince) are a voyeur’s paradise, full of starry mansions and designer boutiques. Make exploring them a memorable Angeleno experience by combining your people-watching with a workout, pedaling around the streets with a group of cyclists and a witty insider guide.

4. Small-Group Movie Locations Tour in Los Angeles


From the Hollywood Sign to the Griffith Observatory and Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles has countless movie landmarks. This tour will direct you to the highlights only, taking you along Hollywood Boulevard to the Americana-fantasy countertops of Formosa Cafe – where movie stars and mobsters once dined – and spilling the beans on all the scandals, secrets and only-in-LA stories. It’s a must for movie buffs.

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