Los Angeles Highways and Byways
Nataly Osmann

You know how when you travel, you always say you are going to see it all, go everywhere and then barely leave the district of your hotel? This city is huge; the length from East to West is about 70 km, which is twice as long as Moscow’s one and six times the length of Paris. Los Angeles is one of those cities where your location kind of determines everything from your dinner options to your future, because boy, oh, boy you do not want to find yourself in a wrong neighbourhood at a wrong time. We thought we’d help you out a little and compose a list of all strategically important places, so you avoid unnecessary traffic jams and hopefully stay alive.

District: Malibu

Why: Because of the biggest, wildest, fastest waves on the whole of the Pacific coast, why else?

Just in case you are the one who can’t afford a ticket to Hawaii. Remember Baywatch? Of course you do! Just keep them running, always running. Where were we? Ah, yes, so those coast guards don’t just run up and down the beach to show off, well maybe sometimes they do, but mainly they save those restless surfers fishing them out of the water sometimes even helping them avoid a whole “Jaws” situation. Malibu has been associated with surfing since forever; it stretches along the 45 km long shore and is divided into six large beaches. Almost anywhere you can rent equipment to go windsurfing or kayaking. Historic fact: at some point, local ranches were sold at a ridiculous price of ten cents per acre, and today this is one of the most expensive locations in the world.

Where to stay: Calamigos Guest Ranch

South, 327 Latigo Canyon Rd, Malibu

A guest ranch with a spacious green outdoors area right on the shore. Instead of rooms – they offer private houses instead of a restaurant – a cosy wooden terrace. There’s also an old Ferris wheel on the property and although the view it offers is not the most impressive one, the retro attraction itself is a very picturesque sight.

District: Santa Monica

Why: Californian tan, palm trees, needn’t we say more?

Well actually we do; we promised. Basically this is where all the “angels” come to take their wings off, wouldn’t want to have any tan lines. Endless rows of micro bikinis and brawny bodies of tattoo-covered bodybuilders contrast nicely with sweet old couples slowly walking along the pier enjoying their well-deserved vocations. Basically live goes on the same way as in any other seaside town. Restaurants are opened at any time of night and day; cabriolets bowl along the pier; crowds wait to get in the hottest nightclubs; and in the morning hangover volleyball tournaments are run. This miniature city is actually very homey and has a slight European flair to it; it might remind you of one of those tiny seaside towns like Biarritz except without any of that Victorian atmosphere. It is certainly an ideal place for a summer weekend away.

Where to stay: Viceroy Santa Monica

1819 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica

Super stylish and super expensive hotel right in the heart of Santa Monica. Close by – luxurious stores, spas and restaurants with prices so high they’ll make your teeth ache. The interior was put together by local designers, so there’s no shortage of marble sculptures, emerald tiles, or black carpets. But surprisingly there’s nice harmony to the place.

District: Marina del Rey

Why: Where else will you have a chance to sail your own boat?

This area practically defines local slang meaning of the word “hip”, unaffected by the fact that it’s located quite far away from the more central districts of Los Angeles. It combines the best of the best: on the one hand, it’s a quiet peaceful resort; on the other, it’s a mecca for those looking to indulge in wealth and luxury. Rusty fishing boats stand proud next to yachts of P Diddy’s magnitude. The port is a spinal cord of this seaside community and here it’s much more common to have a boat than a car inside your garage. It’s a Californian Venice for the richest of the rich. It even borders with the famous Venice Beach. You also won’t catch a sunset more beautiful in all of L.A.: the red sun swallowed by the still waters of the ocean, and shadows cast by distant mountains. According to the slightly sarcastic opinion of the local youths, the Venice Beach is for partying and Marina del Rey is for living. We leave it in your capable hands to test out this theory.

Where to stay: Marina del Rey Hotel

13534 Bali Way, Marina del Rey

If you do decide to stay here, you’ll have to follow the rules set by the local elite. Luxurious but not too much in your face, with rooms in a not-so-exciting continental style, the boringness of which is more than compensated by the stunning view of the bay. Salt – one the best restaurants in the area is also close-by. And when you see those white seagulls roaming the clear blue sky, the scenery becomes complete, and the whole picture is perfect.

District: San Fernando Valley

Why: To chase that silver screen dream.

Known to most as simply The Valley, the biggest neighbourhood in the city, in fact, no more than a common, a little infamous, greyish area in the outskirts of L.A. It is so large, it seems to stretch all the way to the National Park. For you to imagine it clearly – almost 40% of the city’s population resides here. At first glance you’d have to be completely mad to stay here. Unless you are mad for the art of cinematography. This is truly a treasure land for those obsessed with films sets, castings, and everything else related to this topic. It is a home of Universal, Warner Bros, and Walt Disney studios. So hurry up and go take a picture in front of the Universal globe, hitch a ride through the Warner Bros’ sets, and shake hands with Mickey Mouse in the Walt Disney Park.

Where to stay: Safari Inn, A Coast Hotel

1911 West Olive Avenue Burbank

A very stereotypical American motel, that won’t arise any interest in any of the locals but will meet all of your needs. It offers significant discounts on trips to the film studios and will also make you feel like a star of a Lynch production. Pink dim lighting throughout the whole place; a swimming pool in the backyard surrounded by silence that is just too quiet – all of it adds up to an experience you won’t be able to forget.

Safari Inn  Coast Hotel

Safari Inn  Coast Hotel

District: Beverly Hills

Why: Because here a chance of having a cocktail with Cameron Diaz is a lot higher. But don’t worry if you are out of fortune and the golden-hair Charlie’s angel stays in her Bell Air mansion - there are plenty of other celebrities you can potentially bump into. Be careful though, your pure and innocent love (obsession) for the famous, might be ruthlessly exploited by infinite street personas who sell fake maps of celebrity homes, take you on tours of their favourite spots and even offer you to join a real paparazzi stalking. If you can’t afford the latter most exciting item on the soul-selling vultures’ menu, you can always go visit your favourite movie spots. You can easily follow in Julia Robert’s steps from the iconic “Pretty Woman”; but please don’t get into any cars no matter how handsome the stranger-driver is. Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel, Rodeo Drive and the legendary Chanel boutique are all the locations you need to hit to feel like the red haired “Cinderella”. A slightly more fun and a lot more naughty alternative – to relieve certain “Californication” moments; the cult show was almost entirely filmed here. Don’t forget to mail some postcards - that 90210 stamp definitely deserves a special place on anyone’s fridge.

Where to stay: Maison 140

140 S Lasky Dr, Beverly Hills

If you don’t stand out, you don’t exist - an unspoken rule of Beverly Hills everyone’s aware of. That’s why we offer you a not so ordinary hotel. From the outside it looks like an impressive, but not exactly fashionable villa, but on the inside it is a lot like a Japanese boudoir with its black lacquered walls, red carpets, crystal and other stylish design elements. Ever dreamt of what it would be like in Hello Kitty’s brain? Well, you can book a suite that looks a lot like it.

District: West Hollywood

Why: To get the most fashionable shopping experience of your life.

This is the heart and soul of Los Angeles, and one of the oldest and most popular regions found between Hollywood and Beverly Hills. A real magnet that attracts everyone from homeless and beggars, tourists and cheap (and not so cheap) souvenir vendors, to those calm city crazies trying to convince everyone Armageddon is near. Life here doesn’t stop even for a second: the rush hour here is around six in the evening, when the sun doesn’t blind you anymore and you can actually enjoy a nice stroll along the Sunset Boulevard till it gets dark. Sunset Strip is truly a legendary 2.4 km stretch of a boulevard that has the best stores in the area, and unlike Rodeo Drive here you’ll find shops of different kinds and a very diverse price range. If you’re looking for original and stylish gifts then go to Los Angeles County Store; want an exquisite leather bag – Clare V. is the place for you; interior pieces worthy of a Paris Hilton kind of home – head to Diva Rocker Glam; finally, go to Gil Turner’s Fine Wine & Spirits – yes, you guessed right here you’ll find a decent bottle or two of quality Californian wine (it’s a thing, it exists and it’s quite good! we, too, were very surprised). Hey, and a three storeys high H & M isn’t so bad either.

Where to stay: Mondrian LA Hotel

8440 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood

It’s not a coincidence that this artsy hotel bears the name of Piet Mondrian: his paintings might not hang above the entrance but the walls in every room ooze bright colours, and the atmosphere is soaked with raw and powerful emotions that were so common for the expressive abstract art. The famous Skybar occupies the whole rooftop, Victoria’s Secret models are rumoured to be frequent guests here. The restaurant’s menu was created by Brian Malarkey – a former judge on the hit reality show “The Taste”.

District: Downtown Arts District

Why: To drink coffee while admiring world-famous graffiti. Two completely different areas merged into one – the Arts Districts forms a part of L.A. Downtown, the business jungle of the city, which is filled with skyscrapers and concrete that serves as blank canvases for the street artists. It attracts all those who are either looking for inspiration or need a place for releasing their creativity. The neighbourhood’s motto “We own the streets” couldn’t describe the situation any better. Even an ordinary parking lot will be transformed into something unique. The creativity flow doesn’t end with graffiti; it continues inside café terraces, where up-and-coming musicians hold the most amazing live concerts, and all kinds of master classes and activities organized in open-air locations. This particular area is also home to the city’s best fast-food joints as well as the tiniest coffee shops that serve everything from coffee to something much stronger.

Where to stay: In a vintage caravan

Willow St, Arts District, Downtown

In a district filled with the most luxurious and stylish lofts you shouldn’t book an ordinary hotel room. Instead, why not stay in a former factory or in a renovated warehouse. In one such place you will find a whole park of retro American trailers. The welcoming owner of this delightful, cosy space Harley will probably offer you a soda and might even let you borrow his bike.

District: Pasadena

Why: Pasadena is a whole separate little town on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

This place is famous for two things: for the unrealistically high number of local geeks and its flowers. Due to the fact that one of the best technology universities – Caltech (California Institute of Technology) is located right here, Pasadena’s residents are the country’s brightest computer geniuses and IT maniacs. It’s a little easier with the flowers part. Every year on January 1st this town holds The Rose Parade, where hundreds of platforms decorated with fresh rose buds of all the colours of the rainbow, drive through the city spreading an incredible smell and colour palette in the streets of Pasedena. If you remove the two things that basically define this city and give it its personality, you will be left with a perfect example of a small American town filled with one-storey houses that look exactly the same, a tiny town square in front of some official government building, dusty gas stations, motels, and endless fast-food restaurants. Curiously enough (for us, anyway), Pasadena is one of the most beloved and cherished regions of all those L.A. born and raised. Here the wealthiest part of American middle class leads a very happy, comfortable living. And these are the people, according to proclamations of some of the US presidents, who are the base and strength of the American nation.

Where to stay: Langham Huntington

1401 S Oak Knoll Ave, Pasadena

Compared to the rest of the town’s architecture, this building might seem like something odd one out. Unexpectedly very beautiful it looks a little out of place. The hotel with a huge, very well kept park and a long pool. With a breath-taking view of the mountains from one side, and a gorgeous panorama of the city on the other. If you are used to high standards and comfort, than this is the place for you.

District: Historic West Adams

Why: Because this residential district represents the historic architectural heritage of the West Coast. This region not exactly a tourist-favourite looks completely frozen in time. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was occupied by many wealthy and influential people. Although it has seen a little deterioration, many buildings, examples of the Colonial style, are being rehabilitated and preserved because of their historic value. The visual image is quite eclectic: modern buses against historic villas and skaters practicing tricks on one-century-old staircases. Everywhere you look there are monuments and commemorative plaques on buildings’ facades. If you ever get a hold of an old postcard and compare it to today’s scenery, it would probably look exactly the same. There are few streets that aren’t really incorporated into the general vibe. These streets belong to the Latin-American community. Brightly painted brick walls, tiny colourful shops selling anything and everything, and mannequins protected from the Californian heat with enormous sombreros.

Where to stay: The Culver Hotel

9400 Culver Blvd, Culver City

It’s next to impossible to find adequate housing in this area but a mere 15-minute ride away there’s The Culver Hotel that is just lovely. The building is old but not ancient, and all the rooms are decorated in a very classy, yet cosy, home like way (fire logs in the hallway fireplace and fluffy carpets to bury your feet in), all of these will for sure put you in a perfect mood for a stroll through the remarkable neighbourhood.

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