Large rooms with full kitchens and pullout couches
Free perks: Wi-Fi, breakfast, plethora of snacks, laundry
Heated pool in the courtyard
Free access to L.A. Fitness center
Quick walk to Hollywood Boulevard
Access to the members-only Magic Castle
Friendly, personalized service
No room service
No on-site gym (but free access to nearby L.A. Fitness)
No elevator to access 2nd floor
Located steps from Hollywood Boulevard, the Magic Castle is a quirky, unpretentious 40-room hotel with simple, spacious rooms, an exhaustive list of free perks (Wi-Fi, breakfast, minibar treats), access to the exclusive Magic Castle club next door, and exceptional service. Overall, it's a terrific value and one of L.A.'s hidden gems.
A quirky hidden gem with tons of free perks just steps from Hollywood Boulevard
Perched on a steep hill one long block north of Hollywood Boulevard, the Magic Castle -- as in the actual chateau-style mansion next door to the hotel -- has been an architectural Hollywood icon since it was built in 1909 as a private home for a Californian real estate magnate. But it wasn't until 1963, when the building was dubbed the Magic Castle and opened its doors as a private, members-only club, that the architectural icon became a cultural one as well -- as the headquarters of the Academy of Magical Arts. Performers over the years have included the late Dai Vernon, an expert in sleight of hand, Mark Wilson, and Kuda Bux, as well as magic hobbyists like Cary Grant, Steve Martin, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jason Alexander of Seinfeld.
There are only three ways to get into a show at the Castle: be a dues-paying member, the guest of a dues-paying member, or a guest of -- you guessed it -- the Magic Castle Hotel. The 40-room lodging is a two-story, motel-like building painted highlighter yellow, adjacent to the castle, and tucked away from street view behind some nondescript hedges.
Rooms are large, most are about 500 square feet and come with full kitchens and pullout couches, but they're a little bland. But, alas, the service is exceptional and there's very little nickel-and-diming. Wi-Fi's free, breakfast is free (with delicious scones and croissants from Susina Bakery), postage for letters and postcards is free, laundry services are free, DVD rentals are free. Even better, the minibar is free. Guests simply ask for whatever they want from a long list of over 40 items, and the hotel provides single-serving bags for free (and as many as you want).
Beyond the free perks and access to one of the most exclusive magic shows in the world, the friendly and inviting atmosphere wins over guests, be they families or B-listers (Stephen Baldwin was a guest during my stay). The exhaustive list of perks just happens to tie it all together. Guests might also consider Le Parc Suites, which has larger rooms, also with full kitchens, and an infinitely nicer pool than Magic Castle, but a much less convenient location.
Exceptional service with great attention to detail
The rooms may lack flash, but the Magic Castle's service is exceptional. It's warm, attentive, personable, and unpretentious. From nightly turndowns with mints to poolside popsicles to a birthday cake from Susina Bakery delivered on guests' birthdays, to a staffer's refusal of a tip for help with luggage, it's the little things that stand out. Ask and you shall receive: One guest had an early flight and the staff made sure the fresh scones and pastries from the bakery were delivered early; another needed a slightly later checkout, and wasn't charged extra. I wanted to send a postcard, brought it to the desk, and they mailed it for free.
Exceptionally warm, friendly, and helpful staff
Free welcome drink at check-in -- sparkling lemonade in plastic champagne glasses
Nightly turndown with Andes mints and the next day's weather forecast
No dedicated concierge, but knowledgeable front desk staffers more than able to help
Rosemary-infused towels and popsicles handed out by the pool
Guests can request free drinks and snacks from the front desk at any time (and consume them by the pool)
Popsicle hotline -- guests pick up a phone by the pool and can request a popsicle
Special requests like early breakfast delivery and late checkout readily accommodated without fees
No room service, but the staff will deliver basic groceries for no additional charge to families staying three nights or more
In Hollywood, steps from Hollywood Boulevard and less than a 10-minute drive to Universal Studios
The location of the Magic Castle doesn't get much better for those wanting to be in the heart of Hollywood. Situated one long block from touristy Hollywood Boulevard and the celebrity footprints of the Walk of Fame at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, it's less than a five-minute walk to several major attractions. Despite its central location, the hotel is magically quiet given it's setting, tucked away on a steep hill overlooking Franklin Avenue, which runs parallel with Hollywood Boulevard.
Neighborhood feels safe at all hours.
Less than a five-minute walk to touristy Hollywood Boulevard (one long block away), the celebrity footprints at the Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Kodak Theatre, the Guinness Book of World Records HQ and the Hollywood Wax Museum
101 Freeway just a few minutes' drive
Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills, an enclave of wealthy living and luxury shopping in the middle of L.A.'s westside, is a 15- to 20-minute drive .
Nearest beach is between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on traffic.
Universal Studios, a movie-themed amusement park, is a 10-minute drive, or a $5 round trip on the Metro.
Parking is around $10 per night, incredibly cheap for L.A. (virtually unheard of)
Rooms are spacious; most have full kitchens, pullout couches, and up-to-date technology
The rooms are far from posh, but they're not pretending to be anything they're not. They're clean, comfortable, and spacious, with dark wooden furniture and white bedding. They range from Single Rooms with queen beds to Two Bedroom Suites with full kitchens. Most one-bedroom suites are around 500 square feet and include full kitchens (four-burner gas stove, oven, microwave, full-size fridge, coffee pot) and pullout couches; some have balconies.
Beds are comfortable, with 250-thread-count linens, down pillows, and duvets. Bathrooms have shower/tub combos, and remodeled ones have marble tiling. All rooms come with flat-screen TVs, iHome docking stations, DVD player (there's a free and extensive lending library at the front desk), and electronic safes big enough for a laptop. Cotton bathrobes and slippers (for kids and adults) and Tarocco toiletries are also provided. Views are either of the pool or street.
Exclusive access to the members-only Magic Castle club -- and it's worth every penny.
The Magic Castle, a private clubhouse and performance space for the Academy of Magical Arts, is a Hollywood institution -- and there are only three ways to get in: become a dues-paying member, be the guest of a dues-paying member, or -- yes -- be a guest of the adjacent Magic Castle Hotel. Most guests have dinner in the castle first (pricey, and not great, but worth it for the experience), and then head to a series of magic shows that are so good it's worth staying at the hotel for a night just to view the show.
Hosts five different magic shows in three showrooms; club hours are 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
With the exception of brunch on weekends, guests must be at least 21 years old; cocktail attire required
Three seatings for Saturday and Sunday brunches starting at 11 a.m.
Great for families -- huge suites with full kitchens, a stellar location, plenty of free perks
The Magic Castle is one of the best values in Hollywood, especially for families. Rooms aren't fancy, but most are a spacious 500 square feet with full kitchens and pullout couches, plus more than enough room for cribs (free) and rollaway beds (also free, but only available in ground-floor rooms). The one downside is that there aren't any elevators in the hotel, so families with lots of gear should request a ground-floor room. Plenty of free perks make up for that slight hassle, however.
Cribs are placed in room before a family's arrival and come with a free box of Johnson & Johnson baby products and a rubber ducky.
Endless free perks: breakfast, minibar snack items like Oreos and Cheetos
Small pool that's fine for young kids
Staff will do grocery shopping for families who stay more than three nights
Free DVD rentals with kidtastic movies like Ratatouille, Harry Potter, and Shrek, plus free popcorn
Access to the renowned members-only Magic Castle next door; kids are allowed only during weekend brunches.
No on-site restaurant, but free continental breakfast and minibar items
The hotel brings in free, fresh pastries from well-regarded Susina Bakery every morning for its continental breakfast, and offers a free, all-you-can-eat minibar, but there's no restaurant affiliated with the hotel. However, guests of the Magic Castle get VIP treatment at Yamashiro, a Japanese restaurant located just behind the hotel. Built almost a century ago as a replica of a Japanese palace near Kyoto, the restaurant offers some of the best views of Hollywood. If $39 is too much to swallow for Wagyu steak, there are infinite restaurant options of all price ranges just a few minutes from the hotel.
Free continental breakfast, including outstanding pastries from Susina Bakery, fruit, yogurt, cereal, juice, and coffee
Free (and unlimited) minibar available at the front desk, including Fritos, Cheetos, and a gamut of sodas
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