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Best Hidden Gem Hotels in Los Angeles (2 of 16)

 The parlor at the Ayres Hotel.
Los Angeles has plenty of famous, historic hotels that everyone knows by name: Beverly Hills Hotel, Chateau Marmont, and the Beverly Wilshire, to name a few. And sure, if you want to drop a lot of money and hob nob with celebrities, these are some of the best haunts around. But some of the most charming hotels are ones that fly under the radar. So if you're looking for something a little more unique or off the beaten path, consider one of these six hidden gems.
First up, the Ayres Hotel. Although we don't advocate staying on a major freeway near strip malls, this hotel -- less than five miles from LAX airport -- surprised us with its sumptuous, ornate interiors. From the outside, the hotel looks like any other airport hotel with a large parking lot, but inside we found a grand staircase under a crystal chandelier, a stone fireplace from France, and a courtyard terrace. All this combined with a heated pool and lots of freebies (Wi-Fi, breakfast, parking) make it a great option for those who want to be near the airport. The parlor at the Ayres Hotel. Los Angeles has plenty of famous, historic hotels that everyone knows by name: Beverly Hills Hotel, Chateau Marmont, and the Beverly Wilshire, to name a few. And sure, if you want to drop a lot of money and hob nob with celebrities, these are some of the best haunts around. But some of the most charming hotels are ones that fly under the radar. So if you're looking for something a little more unique or off the beaten path, consider one of these six hidden gems.
First up, Petite Ermitage. The hotel's bohemianism -- antiquish furniture, faded floral carpeting, distressed fireplaces -- will appeal to some but not others. Oyster's take? We dig it, man. For half the price of some of its competitors, you get a newly renovated, truly unique boutique with large suites (many with kitchens) and a lovely rooftop pool. Rooms are big (375 to 650 square feet), clean, and high-tech, and have comfy beds and nice bathrooms with bath products from the Dead Sea. There is a picturesque pool on the top floor, which boasts 360-degree views of the city. The pool itself is small, but it's heated and salty (the newest trend in hotel poolery), and the surrounding deck, with its hip design, makes it one of the Ermitage's main draws, especially in nice weather. This tiny, 43-room boutique makes up in style what it lacks in size and amenities. Granted there's no pool, real business center, or even a restaurant -- but the unique Chinoiserie and Parisian-inspired rooms, cozy lobby bar with nightly absinthe happy hours, and central Beverly Hills location lure in a loyal crowd. Housed in the home of the glamorous former silent film star, Lillian Gish, Maison 140 has been successfully reworked as a French-meets-Mandarin boutique. It's a little like a 1920s Parisian inn mated with a lush Shanghai opium den and they had one brazen L.A. baby. No room looks like the next at Maison 140, although they usually stick to color schemes of either red, black, and white, or yellow and green. Another tiny Hollywood boutique, the Magic Castle is quirky, unpretentious, and chock full of free amenites (Wi-Fi, breakfast, minibar treats, etc.). The rooms are by no means cutting age or brand new, but are very clean and spacious. Most feature full kitchens and pull-out couches. All rooms are built around a 24-hour, small, heated pool that serves free popsicles in the afternoons. 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 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. Housed in a charming, yellow four-story building just off Wilshire, this cozy 49-room boutique offers a lot in a little space, including a heated pool, restaurant, bar, and free fitness room. Rooms come luxuriously outfitted with Frette robes and towels, Bulgari toiletries, 37-inch flat-screens, and Bose stereos. Cabanas are free at the small, heated outdoor pool (open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.), and there's poolside food and drink service from the restaurant. This 77-room, midrange boutique hotel is one of the most environmentally focused hotels in Southern California. While it mostly caters to business travelers, if you're an Earth-loving tourist who doesn't mind staying inland, it's a fantastic, Zen-like alternative to Santa Monica's enormous beachfront hotels. A So Cal hodgepodge of California Craftsmen, Westernized feng shui, and Zen concepts meets the ecological consciousness of the 21st-century in the rooms at the Ambrose.
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