Los Angeles

10 Coolest Hotels in Downtown Los Angeles: The Rebirth of La La Land

Downtown Los Angeles hotels come in all shapes and styles. Local writer Christabel Lobo takes you through 10 of the coolest options in the city.

I’m walking over to my favorite LA rooftop haunt for after-work drinks. With a cool breeze permeating the air, I sip on my refreshing Papaya Salad Daiquiri and watch the sky slowly change hues as the sun begins to set over a renewed downtown Los Angeles, one with towering new residential complexes, repurposed historic buildings, and converted warehouses.

Downtown Los Angeles started out as a thriving center of culture, shopping, and entertainment but slowly fell to ruin after the end of World War II. As residents began moving into the suburbs, many historic buildings were left abandoned, or worse yet, ended up demolished to make way for parking lots.

Today, the area is almost unrecognizable. From the hip boutiques and burgeoning culinary scene to craft cocktails and Instagrammable blocks of street art, the neighborhood is going through a rapid period of revival, with businesses moving back into the spaces they once held.

Whether it’s dining on tapas at a James-Beard nominated chef’s restaurant or rubbing shoulders at an exclusive social club from the 1800s, get a feel for the changes yourself with a stay in any one of these 10 hotels in Downtown Los Angeles.

Complete with an Opulent 1920's Movie Theater

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Set in the historic Broadway Theater District, the trendy Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles was once home to the United Artists production company. Built in 1927 by famed theatre architect, C. Howard Crane, this Spanish Gothic building originally served as the United Artists Theatre, playing numerous films from the 20s, including those by silent actress and co-founder, Mary Pickford.

The building changed ownership over the years, before being bought by the Ace hotel chain who carefully restored the 13-floor property, including its ornate theatre—officially renamed The Theatre at Ace—which now serves as a space for everything from music concerts and film premieres to private events and readings.

The rooftop lounge, Upstairs, offers a Marfa-inspired concrete pool and exceptional views of the city skyline at sunset. Contemporary rooms and suites feature locally made furniture and artwork, and some have private terraces overlooking downtown LA.

Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles, 10.7 miles to Bel-Air
8.3 Very good (2502 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.7 / 10
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Hit The Rooftop Party

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Minimalist quarters feature bright-yellow accents and glass-enclosed showers at the Standard’s DTLA outpost. Situated in a mid-century modern building with a distinct all-marble exterior and lobby, the hotel is known for its nightly DJ parties at the panoramic Rooftop Bar. By day, the rooftop transforms into a space where guests relax by the heated swimming pool in futuristic waterbed pods or on sun loungers along the red AstroTurf deck.

Order a bite to eat any time of day—the retro-themed diner, again with the bright-yellow decor, is not to be missed, and technically you can’t as it operates 24/7. The menu, by Executive Chef Julio Palma, features comfort foods from breakfast burritos to burgers and nachos, all made using organic, locally sourced ingredients.

Hotel The Standard Downtown

Los Angeles, 10.6 miles to Bel-Air
7.6 Good (2943 reviews)
Very good Cleanliness 8.2 / 10
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Grab a hand-crafted cocktail at the award-winning bar

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Downtown Los Angeles is a haven for restored and repurposed buildings, so it’s no surprise that The Freehand occupies one of them. Set in the former Commercial Exchange building, this upscale property is known for having the tallest neon sign—which you can see from some rooms—and more notably, being the publishing office of Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of Tarzan.

What sets the Freehand apart from the rest of downtown’s burgeoning hotel scene is that it functions as part hotel, part hostel. The shared rooms—which can accommodate four, six or eight guests, making it perfect for families—feel more like chic cabins than dorms. All rooms, including privates and suites, are decorated with custom furniture, locally sourced textiles, and curated artwork by Los Angeles artists.

The hotel’s community spirit is seen through all four of its restaurants and bars which focus on communal tables and shared plates. Broken Shaker, the award-winning cocktail bar and James Beard Award finalist, offers a laid-back, beachy vibe by the rooftop pool. The hotel store Flowerboy, by Venice Beach-based designer Sean Knibb, offers fresh floral arrangements and a curated selection of all things vintage.

The Freehand Los Angeles

Los Angeles, 10.7 miles to Bel-Air
8.5 Excellent (811 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
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Fine Dining with an LA Twist

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Once the headquarters of the Bank of Italy, this palatial building from the 1920s fell into ruin as residents moved to the suburbs and modern high-rises replaced the downtown LA landscape. Now, the building which was once known as Giannini Place is getting a new lease on life after an extensive restoration thanks to its new owners, the NoMad Los Angeles Hotel, which opened in 2018.

The main source of inspiration behind the decor of the hotel’s 241 luxe rooms and suites—plush velvet accents, original artwork, and Terrazzo-tiled showers—is its newly restored gold and blue Italianate lobby ceiling. The fine dining restaurant by Chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, both of Manhattan’s three-Michelin star Eleven Madison Park, serves modern cuisine dishes like honey-glazed half duck and kanpachi ceviche lettuce wraps. For drinks, head to any one of the hotel’s three bars, rooftop included, for LA-themed cocktails like the Runyon Canyon, a vodka cranberry with a passionfruit twist.

The NoMad Hotel Los Angeles

Top rated
Los Angeles, 10.7 miles to Bel-Air
9.0 Excellent (532 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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An ode to Los Angeles

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Bright quarters feature colorful murals, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city, and quirky Jonathan Adler bathroom amenities at Hotel Indigo, a contemporary boutique property in Downtown LA’s four-tower Metropolis complex. The decor throughout the hotel’s 18-floors is a nod to the city’s melting pot of culture showcasing everything from old-Hollywood charm to the Prohibition-era moodiness.

Enjoy sweeping views of the city below while sipping on a signature FDR martini, created by the former president himself, or other specialty cocktails from 18 Social, the hotel’s penthouse lounge. The airy lobby restaurant, Metropole Kitchen, features a menu inspired by the city’s diversity offering Asian, Italian, and Mediterranean dishes.

Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown

Top rated
Los Angeles, 10.2 miles to Bel-Air
8.8 Excellent (963 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
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California-Chic with a Storied Feminist Past

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One of the oldest hotels in operation in Downtown Los Angeles, the Hotel Figueroa began as a YMCA hotel for women in 1925 in order to provide a safe space for the increasing number of professional women. The property was managed by the hotel’s first female managing director, Maude N. Bouldin, who did so effortlessly right until the 50s. In 1976, it was purchased by Uno Thimansson who continued its run as a Moroccan-themed hotel.

The hotel finally re-opened in 2018 after years of extensive work to bring the building back to its former Spanish colonial style as well as serve as a tribute to its storied past—the artwork you see throughout the hotel is made solely by female artists. California-chic rooms feature exposed-beam ceilings and William Roam bath amenities.

The two restaurants, Veranda and Breva, feature Mediterranean- and Basque-inspired menus, respectively, from James Beard nominee, Chef Casey Lane. Drinks at the hotel’s three bars, Bar Alta, Rick’s, and Bar Figueroa, are expertly crafted by mixologist and author, Dushan Zaric.

Hotel Figueroa Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles, 10.3 miles to Bel-Air
7.4 Default (2769 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.6 / 10
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Exclusive Access to a Century-old Athletic & Social Club

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Situated in an elegant Beaux-Arts building, the Los Angeles Athletic Club Hotel is part of an exclusive athletic and social club dating back to the 1880s. A number of notable Hollywood celebrities have graced its halls, including Charlie Chaplin, who was once the club’s resident for a period of time. You don’t have to be a member to book a stay; a $25 Olive Club membership fee is included in the first night’s room rate for non-members.

Dining at the property’s five restaurants and bars is extremely exclusive and reserved strictly for Athletic Club members and hotel guests. Refined rooms feature custom furniture, while suites add elegant sitting areas; both offer access to the club’s spa and athletic facilities, including the 25-yard heated indoor pool.

Los Angeles Athletic Club

Top rated
Los Angeles, 10.8 miles to Bel-Air
8.5 Excellent (2109 reviews)
Excellent Service 8.9 / 10
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Quintessential LA Luxury

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Located in the LA Live entertainment complex and a convenient five-minute walk from the Staples Center, The Ritz Carlton is housed in one downtown’s newer, all-glass skyscrapers. Airy rooms and suites offer impressive views of DTLA, while an exclusive club lounge on the 23rd floor provides complimentary snacks and meeting facilities to guests that book a club-level room.

Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck helms the hotel’s restaurant, WP24, known for its Chinese cuisine and scenic views from its perch on the 24th floor. In need of a spa day? The hotel boasts an impressive 8,000 square foot day-spa—the largest in downtown—with a plethora of massages, beauty treatments, multiple steam rooms, and more.

Hotel The Ritz Carlton Los Angeles

Top rated
Los Angeles, 10.1 miles to Bel-Air
8.8 Excellent (735 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
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A Historic Backdrop for Hollywood Productions

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The historic building that hosts the opulent Millennium Biltmore Hotel is a mixture of Beaux-Arts, Mediterranean and Revival architectural styles seen in both its exterior façade, as well as the numerous interior archways, vaulted ceilings, and intricate relief carvings that exist indoors. Film enthusiasts probably recognize this opulent property from its many film and TV debuts—Beverly Hills Cop, Charlie’s Angels, Cruel Intentions, and Ghostbusters just to name a few. Beginning in the 1930s, it also served as the venue for the annual Academy Awards ceremony.

This expansive hotel—it was the largest hotel west of Chicago when it first opened in 1923—has 683 plush guest rooms and plenty of drinking and dining options, from Italian at Smeraldi’s to Singaporean-Chinese cuisine at Bugis. In the 40s and 50s, the now-shuttered Grand Avenue bar served as a popular watering hole for the city’s LGBTQ community.

In an infamous chapter of the hotel’s history, they hosted the 1971 International Psychologists & Psychiatrists conference. LGBTQ activists disrupted the gathering, forcing a conversation between mental health professionals and the gay community. This confrontation paved the way for change, and within two years, homosexuality was no longer classified as a mental disorder.

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles

Los Angeles, 10.8 miles to Bel-Air
7.6 Good (5404 reviews)
Very good Location 8.3 / 10
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Where Art Deco Dreams Come Alive

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More than two years of renovations have transformed the historic Mayfair Hotel, which opened in August 2018, from a run-down, budget-friendly property—your cue to ignore the prior hotel ratings—back to its 1920s sleek and moody roots.

Redesigned by Gulla Jónsidóttir, the property features nods to its heyday Art Deco period from its signature black, gold and silver color palette, right down to the ethereal seashell-flower-hybrid bar sculpture at the chic lobby bar. The hotel’s restaurant, Eve, serves up a seasonally-focused menu and its name pays homage to the writer Raymond Chandler, who once called the Mayfair home.

Don’t miss peeking into the third-floor ballroom which has been meticulously restored to its former glory. This cavernous space, with its three-story-high ceiling, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and impressive 34-foot white marble fireplace, was once host to the first Academy Awards after-party in 1929. Contemporary art enthusiasts will also enjoy a stay at the Mayfair, whose walls function as gallery space, curated by artist-in-residence, Kelly “Risk” Graval.

The Mayfair Hotel

Los Angeles, 10 miles to Bel-Air
6.5 Default (3546 reviews)
Fair Service 7.3 / 10
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Featured photo courtesy of Hotel Figueroa