Magic Castle Hotel Rating: 3.0 Pearls
This quirky 40-room hotel is next to Hollywood's Magic Castle, the members-only headquarters of the Academy of Magical Arts. Staying here lets you into magic shows open only to members and their guests (although only the weekend brunch show allows children). But even if you never make it to a show, your kids will love the 24-hour heated pool. The spacious one-bedroom suites with full kitchens can fit a family, and the free breakfast, free afternoon popsicles, free minibar snacks, and free DVDs to watch are no sleight of hand.
Hotel Casa Del Mar Rating: 4.5 Pearls
You won't find many traditional beach resorts in L.A., but you can stay right on the beach. The Santa Monica beach in front of Casa del Mar is a broad stretch of sand with gentle waves, and the pier --- with its Ferris wheel, video-game arcade, and carnival-style amusements --- is a 15-minute walk away. A 22-mile bike bath passes by the hotel (rentals are available at Shutters next door). The spacious luxury rooms with two double beds can easily fit a family, and the fortune-telling Zoltar booth in the lobby may amuse kids if they tire of the outdoors.
Le Parc Suites Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
An enormous suite at a reasonable price is the story here. The 650-square-foot suites have fully equipped kitchens, two TVs (one a 42-inch plasma TV), a living room with a gas fireplace, and balconies. A roof-top pool and tennis court sweeten the deal, and from the hotel's West Hollywood location, Universal Studios is only a 15-minute drive.
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
While not right on the sand like its Santa Monica neighbor Casa del Mar, Loews is a one-minute walk to the beach and five minutes from the Ferris wheel, video arcade and rides on the pier. The popular pool has an ocean view, and the poolside grill has a kids' menu. The TVs in the spacious rooms come with kid-friendly channels like HBO Family, Disney, and the Cartoon Network. And the staff will childproof your room before your arrival.
Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills - A Four Seasons Hotel Rating: 5.0 Pearls
Among high-end luxury hotels in L.A., the Beverly Wilshire does the most to extend bend-over-backward service to the under-18 set: a welcome star-shaped "Hollywood Walk of Fame" cookie with your child's name, kid spa treatments, and a room service menu with choices for infants, young children, and tweens. Rodeo Drive shopping is just down the street if your kids are budding fashionistas. The large guest rooms all have DVD players, and the hotel has an extensive lending library of children's DVDs.
The Beverly Hills Hotel Rating: 5.0 Pearls
Just like the Beverly Wilshire, the Beverly Hills hotel pampers kids as well as parents: They get a welcome gift of milk and cookies, a fake pink charge card to use at the restaurants, and kids' options on the room-service menu. The difference is that this luxury hotel, located on a residential stretch of Sunset Boulevard, feels more like a mini-resort than a city hotel, thanks to tennis courts, a large pool, and 12 acres of property. At 425 square feet, the rooms are larger than the Beverly Wilshire's.
Doubletree Guest Suites Santa Monica Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Families willing to trade a short walk to the Santa Monica beach for a lot more space and a lower price should consider Doubletree Guest Suites. The clean and comfortable 500-square-foot suites have pullout couches and half-size fridges (plus a microwave if requested). The 3rd-floor sundeck has a pool and Jacuzzi. The downside, of course, is that the beach and pier are a 10-minute walk (or a shorter drive).
Terranea Resort Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The Terranea offers the full range of resort amentities for kids (and their parents). This full-scale Rancho Palo Verdes property has a pool with a waterslide. The kids' club offers arts and crafts, games, and nature activities ($55 a day). Teens can kayak, surf, and attend free "Teen Scene" nighttime events. The only problem is that the Terranea is at least an hour's drive from major L.A. tourist attractions -- so it makes a great self-contained family vacation destination, but doesn't work particularly well as a home base for exploring L.A.