Magic Castle HotelHollywood, Los Angeles, California
- Rooms are worn and dated; some are too dark.
- No flat-screen TVs
- No room service
- No on-site gym (but free access to nearby L.A. Fitness)
- No elevator to access 2nd floor
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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 adjacent to the castle and tucked away from street view behind some nondescript hedges. Even with the crusty lamppost sign, it's so easy to miss this hotel that many locals don't even know it's here. Turns out this might be a good thing because this is one of the city's best values and hidden gems if you're not looking for pomp, flash, or circumstance, and can tolerate some quirks.
Rooms are large, most are about 500 square feet and come with full kitchens and pullout couches, but they're a little worse for wear. 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 detergent is free, DVD rentals are free. Even better, the minibar is free. Guests simply ask for whatever they want from a list of 37 (count them, 37) 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 -- though you'd never guess it based on the no-frills front desk in the small lobby with a two-way mirror. Service is 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).
- 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 only $10 per night, incredibly cheap for L.A. (virtually unheard of)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
The rooms are far from posh, but they're not pretending to be anything they're not. Guests may find chips in the paint, light switches that don't work, circa 1970 telephones, "wood" floors in the bathroom that are actually some kind of plastic veneer, and old bathtubs with fixtures requiring a strong arm to shut off the water, but somehow the Magic Castle pulls it off. Despite the quirks and dated furnishings, the rooms are clean, comfortable, and spacious -- though not as spacious at Le Parc Suites. About two-thirds of the rooms are one-bedroom suites with pullout couches and full kitchens, but be sure to request one facing the pool -- it'll be brighter and a little more cheery than my dark room in a corner tucked away in the back. Though Le Parc Suites is a nice alternative -- rooms are bigger and also have full kitchens, plus there's an infinitely nicer pool -- the service at Magic Castle, with all of its free perks, is hard to beat.
- Rooms were last renovated in 2004 and 2005, and aren't in the best shape, but they're spacious and clean.
- 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.
- Two soft, Turkish cotton bathrobes in every closet
- Bathrooms are funky, a little outdated, and on the small side, with a shower/tub combo and good water pressure; towels are 100 percent cotton and the Tarocco toiletries come from Italy.
- Rooms have electronic safes big enough for laptops, a first generation iHome iPod docking station, small Craig stereo with CD player, generic brand DVD player (there's a free and extensive lending library at the front desk), and two old tube TVs with basic cable
- Free, fast Wi-Fi
- Though the hotel is only two floors, there's no elevator -- schlepping up the stairs can be a hassle for families and others, who may want to request a ground-floor room.
No nickel-and-diming: almost everything's free except the low-priced parking
With the exception of the $1.25 guest laundry machines, the $4 bottles of Fiji water in the rooms, and $10-per-day parking (one of the cheapest rates in LA), guests won't have to pay a cent for any of the amenities here.
- All rooms are built around a 24-hour, small, heated pool; free popsicles and cold towels delivered poolside on the hour in the afternoons.
- Free (and fast) Wi-Fi
- Free continental breakfast served from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the small lobby includes scones, croissants, and other pastries from highly regarded Susina Bakery
- Exclusive access to members-only Magic Castle club; see Entertainment section
- No gym on-site, but guests get free access to the full-service L.A. Fitness, replete with a basketball court and huge pool, less than a five-minute walk away
- Free DVD rentals from the hotel's extensive collection, including Blazing Saddles, Crash, and Ratatouille. Tip: Ask for microwavable popcorn, it's also free.
- Free postage for postcards and letters, including abroad
- Guest laundry machines are $1.25 per load; detergent is free.
- Front desk has takeout/delivery menus -- many restaurant, and a few liquor stores, will deliver.
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.
- Tickets are $25 per person, dinner is extra; spring for the entire experience.
- 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.
- No photography allowed inside
- Valet parking is $8 per car.
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 -- and some need TLC -- 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.
- Most rooms are large -- 500-square-foot rooms have full kitchens and pullout couches.
- Cribs and rollaway beds are free, but rollaways are only available for rooms located on the ground floor.
- 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, laundry detergent
- 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.
Clean rooms that need some TLC
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 from Wolfgang Puck
- Free (and unlimited) minibar available at the front desk, including Fritos, Cheetos, and a gamut of sodas
- Guests get VIP treatment at Yamashiro, a Japanese restaurant located just behind the hotel with great views and tons of character.
- Exhaustive number of restaurants located within walking distance on Hollywood Boulevard and within a short drive of the hotel, including the pricey Musso and Frank Grill (known for their steaks), 25 Degrees at the Hollywood Roosevelt (great burgers, reasonably priced), In-N-Out Burger on Sunset Boulevard (West Coast burger chain), and 101 Coffee Shop, a great late-night option
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Things You Should Know About Magic Castle Hotel
Address7025 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California 90028, United States
Also Known As
- Hotel Magic Castle
- Magic Castle Los Angeles
- Junior Suite
- One Bedroom Suite
- Superior Queen Room
- Two Bedroom Suite