Hotel ErwinVenice Beach, Los Angeles, California
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Popular with Europeans, underground bands, and beach-goers who don't require fancy frills
Built in 1975, the Erwin (which was named after its first owner) is now a member of Joie de Vivre, a 35-hotel chain that operates hotels up and down the California coast and completed a six-month, $3.1 million refurbishment of this property's guest rooms, penthouse suite, business and fitness centers, rooftop lounge, and lobby) in July 2009. Rooms are pleasantly large and generally comfortable (though bathrooms don't look rehabbed); staff members are courteous, but don't seem highly trained. And the Erwin lacks key amenities (pool, spa, restaurant that serves lunch, 24-hour room service). Plus, it's short on small-property coziness, and can attract shady-looking characters. The hotel installed new carpets and updated some of the common spaces again in 2012.
Entering the Erwin, you're likely to bump up against as many tattoos, piercings, skateboards, surfboards, and electric guitars as you are guests. L.A. tattoo artist Norm created the new mural in the refurbished semicircular driveway, and framed photos of '60s and '70s folk, rock, and R&B legends (Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder) line the hallways.
The Erwin doesn't have an astounding amount to offer (audible street sounds, no pool, no spa, tiny fitness center). Those looking to spend their time catching waves may not mind everything that's lacking, especially given the reasonable room rates; those who prefer a quieter scene and more amenities -- and are willing to pay about $100 a night extra for them -- should consider driving five miles north to the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel or Le Merigot, both of which have a pool, spa, 24-hour room service, and are situated more directly on the beach.
Somewhat limited services at this unpretentious, beachy hotel
Affable parking valets do triple duty as doormen and porters; waitstaff is cheery; and front desk clerks are patient but overwhelmed. The tone is Californian casual: Swamped staffers wear nametags handwritten in bright markers, and there's a bowl of lollipops at the front desk. Just don't expect much in the way of personal attention.
The Erwin is a five-minute walk to famed Venice Beach, but directly on a well-traveled four-lane thoroughfare.
The Erwin sits on Pacific Avenue, the main north-south drag in Venice, about two blocks inland from the well-known beach itself (surfer-dude central); a wide boardwalk chock-full of street performers and snack shops; and a path for bicyclists and rollerbladers.
- Slightly more than two blocks from the beach
- Less than a 15-minute walk to hip Abbot Kinney shops, restaurants, galleries, and cafes
- 25-minute drive to Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills in traffic
- 30-minute drive to Hollywood Boulevard/Grauman's Chinese Theatre in traffic
- 90-minute drive to Universal Studios in traffic
- 20-minute drive to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Minor to moderate street noise
- Safety can be a concern along Pacific Avenue at night, especially for women walking alone.
A thorough renovation in July 2009 has left the large (400- to 425-square-foot) and airy standard rooms (some with ocean views) well-appointed with comfortable mattresses and bedding, flat-panel TVs, and a lot of fun details, including a curved, stainless steel shower rod, a black, tiered table lamp with "The Erwin Est. 1975" printed on it, and lightweight, green, leopard-print robes from Boca Terry. That said, some will be put off by the self-consciously unusual decor, which can combine swirly-print bedspreads with large polka-dot-print sheer curtains and a closet door mural of two naked Asian girls waist-deep in water surrounded by flowers, courtesy of Blik, a local graphics company. In 2012, the hotel replaced carpets in all rooms and added a new suite -- the Red Bull Dogtown Suite -- catering especially to surfers and skateboarders with deep pockets. The design is quirky and the space is expansive, but not many can afford the very un-Dogtownish rates.
- Surprisingly comfortable beds: Sealy Posturepedic Dynasty 220 with two-inch Plush Pillowtop mattress; Lotus Luxury Collection 300-thread-count sheets; lightweight down duvet; new down cotton pillows
- Views are either direct ocean or city and side street; small, narrow balconies off Partial Ocean View Rooms don't have space for furniture.
- 32-inch LG flat-panel TV with free HBO, but several Direct TV channels had no signal; pay-per-view movies are available.
- No iPod docking stations except in Premier Ocean View King Rooms (iHome brand); rest of rooms only have Media Hub TV hookup to play your CDs and DVDs, and small Philips AM/FM clock radio.
- Many rooms have large walk-in closets; all have safes big enough for laptops.
- Interesting, light-green, hanging door that slides on brushed stainless steel wheels and separates sink cabinet (with bright yellow basin and sleek, new Hansgrohe fixture) from forgettable tub-shower and slightly worn Kohler toilet.
- Four-cup coffeemakers, minibars, and honor bar snack trays in each room
- Yuzu bergamot bath products by Lather; Lotus Luxury Collection from Pan Im-Ex Pacific towels are fairly good quality.
On-site extras are few and far between.
Venice Beach, slightly more than two blocks away, is the Erwin's best bonus, but the hotel doesn't rent beach paraphernalia.
The Erwin sits a little more than two blocks away from a stretch of sand more than 100 yards wide.
Although the sea sometimes smells acrid as a result of the enormous pollution Los Angeles generates, the rolling waves at Venice Beach are a magnet for surfers.
- Sand extends gradually into the water -- ideal for swimming or boogie-boarding (though runoff can be a concern).
- Lifeguard stations at regular intervals along the beach during summer and early fall
- Venice bike path runs along the beach, drawing cyclists and rollerbladers.
- Street performers including mimes, jugglers, musicians, fortune-tellers, and a man who walks on glass entertain tourists in sideshow fashion along Oceanfront Walk.
- Multiple vendors along Oceanfront Walk rent beach gear. (Hotel Erwin doesn't.)
- Beachside snack shops serve fast food.
- Public-use volleyball nets and showers
- Crowds and litter can amass, particularly in summer.
Venice Beach is nearby, but no pool or family-centric vibe here
The Erwin isn't particularly family oriented, but hang-ten teenagers and sand-castle-building youngsters may like staying steps from Venice Beach. But the absence of a pool and presence of skaters, surfers, and indie musicians -- in short, a pretty hard-partying clientele -- plus a bar named High might turn parents off.
- No pool
- 10 adjoining rooms
- Restaurant and room service have kid-friendly options including PB&J, chicken strips, mac and cheese, plain pasta, and s'mores.
- Free cribs and space to use them, even in rooms with two queen beds
- Hotel periodically offers Family Suite Adventure package where kids stay free and get a custom keycard, special amenity, and milk-and-cookie turndown
Though renovated in 2009 and looking fairly new, the Erwin already shows minor scuffs and signs of wear and tear.
The Erwin basically feels fresh, but the lobby sofa has visible stains. In the Partial Ocean View Queen Room, the new sink cupboard sparkles, while the tub/shower/toilet area is clean, but doesn't look newly updated. Several hallways feel like sterile college dorms; and the indoor section of Hash restaurant had a fly infestation during breakfast.
In 2012, the hotel completed minor renovations, installing new carpet and waterproofing windows.
Informal restaurant with surprisingly high prices, especially for a menu this limited and mediocre
Barlo, the Erwin's one option, isn't open for lunch. Across Pacific Avenue, Seed macrobiotic restaurant cooks up tasty, moderately priced sandwiches and salads during the day. For more dining choices, cruise Ocean Front Walk for boardwalk fare or head over to Abbot Kinney for healthier alternatives.
- Lobby-level Barlo Kitchen + Cocktails restaurant serves cooked-to-order breakfasts (Eggs Norwegian, Country Benedict, and Irish Oatmeal Brule) and dinners (Barlo burgers, pork belly buns, market-price striped fish) -- but not lunch -- in a small indoor-outdoor seating area.
- On the 7th floor, High outdoor rooftop lounge serves drinks and appetizers nightly and offers cushioned banquettes, heat lamps, and blankets.
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Things You Should Know About Hotel Erwin
Address1697 Pacific Avenue, Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California 90291, United States
Also Known As
- Best Western Los Angeles
- Erwin Hotel Los Angeles
- Los Angeles Best Western
- Deluxe Partial Ocean View Room
- Deluxe Room
- Deluxe Two Room Suite
- Dogtown Sweet
- Full Ocean View Two-Room King Suite
- Partial Ocean View Two Room Suite
- Premier Ocean View King Room