Many travelers to Los Angeles are looking for a dose of nostalgia -- a magical bygone era that evokes Tinseltown’s golden days, old-timey roadside diners (soda fountains, included), and dimly-lit watering holes where vinyl records spin. Even better is when you can bring that old-fashioned fun back to your hotel. That’s why we rounded up 10 retro properties in the City of Angels, from a motor hotel with neon lights to a throwback Beverly Hills icon with a beachy color palette. Ready for a time warp?
If style, location, and an affordable price tag are at the top of your wish list, welcome to The Standard Hollywood. Design-conscious, cash-strapped guests will get a lot for a little here — rooms that delightfully mix retro decor from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s (think silver beanbag chairs and Warhol flower-printed curtains); a 24-hour restaurant that’ll go easy on the wallet; and a top-notch address in the nightlife-centric Sunset Strip. All of this, plus a pool with a fun atmosphere and nightclub that thumps until the wee hours, draws a crowd made up of mainly singles and couples without children in tow.
Originally built in 1939, the Hotel Shangri-La is built for those seeking a stylish oceanside getaway. For starters, the property’s Art Deco exterior resembles an elegant on-land cruise liner, thanks to its curved contours and gleaming white color. The subtle maritime motif makes cameo appearances throughout the hotel as well — the chic outdoor pool area features loungers with striped cushions lining a wooden deck, for example. In addition to the pool, checking into this boutique property will get you access to the well-equipped fitness center and cool rooftop bar, proximity to the beach, and bragging rights that you rested your head in a place where hotshots like Sean Penn, Bill Clinton, and Madonna once spent the night.
With a prime location and palatable price tag, the Seaview Hotel offers the best of both worlds. You can spot the 1950s motor hotel, which lies a short walk from the Santa Monica Pier and the Third Street Promenade, by its neon “Seaview” signs peeking out between tall cacti and palm trees. Inside, rooms have retro charm, with a purple, tan, and mauve color palette. A rooftop sundeck and an open-air courtyard are nice additional touches. Prices are some of the lowest in the area, but you get what you pay for — expect no air-conditioning and thin walls in rooms (read: bring earplugs).
In the ‘30s and ‘40s, this Sunset Strip property was the temporary home of Howard Hughes, Billie Burke, Errol Flynn, and John Wayne. These days, the Art Deco spot serves as a 74-room hotel for everyday guests looking to relax, though A-list celebs still spend the night from time to time. Folks can still expect a pinch of bygone glamour, though — white-jacketed waiters ferry cocktails over while a live pianist sets the soundtrack for the evening. Rooms, many of which have stunning L.A. views, are also tastefully dressed in an Art Deco-inspired color palette. Those lacking a room with a view can enjoy the sweeping panorama of the city from the small pool deck.
Housed inside the 91-year-old United Artists building, the Ace Hotel sits in the Broadway Theater District, a trendy area that draws stylish, free-spirited folks. The interior, which artfully fuses industrial chic details with vintage accents, caters to the same hip crowd. Eclectic decor, from the record library to the photo booth, fills the lobby, which also has playful black-and-white checkered floors, fuzzy walls, and stained-glass windows. L.A. Chapter, the on-site restaurant, is outfitted with a metal bar, broken-in leather furniture, and golden-topped tables, while the Moon Juice stand, which serves cold-pressed beverages, operates out of the theater’s old ticket booth. The retro vibe also spills into the rooms, some of which come with Martin Guitars and Ace x Rega turntables, plus a curated selection of vinyl records.
Don’t let the nondescript exterior deter you — the Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel’s interior is packed with plenty of kitschy personality. The modest, yet bright, rooms are decked out with cheeky details, like smiley face throw pillows, retro rotary phones, and colorfully printed curtains. An even bigger draw, however, is the property’s location. Tucked within the walkable Fairfax District, the hotel is surrounded by cool attractions, stylish boutiques, buzzy restaurants, and chic galleries, satisfying many vacation wishes at once.
Behind The Georgian Hotel’s turquoise Art Deco facade lies a storied history that dates back nearly 90 years. The Santa Monica spot welcomed the likes of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, and even hosted a popular speakeasy that lured mobster Bugsy Siegel. The 1933 property later served as a retirement home, before reopening as a hotel in 1993. Today, guests come to enjoy the beautiful sea views from the veranda, as well as the Santa Monica Pier, beach, Third Street Promenade, and other popular seaside attractions (all within walking distance of the hotel).
Quiet and intimate, this boutique property highlights its breezy Santa Monica location with light wood and cool sky blue and cream shades. Beachy accents (white wood-slatted doors, wicker end tables, and porthole mirrors) and midcentury-modern furniture (game tables with chess, checkers, and backgammon) are also thoughtful, as is the personalized service. Even better, the rooms are some of the largest in the area (starting at 450 square feet), and there’s a pretty courtyard pool, too. All of these features add up to a setting that feels more like a homey, retro bed-and-breakfast than a hideaway for Hollywood heavyweights.
Built in 1912, The Beverly Hills Hotel is older than Beverly Hills itself, and these days, the iconic “pink palace” — as the 12-acre Mission Revival property is known — is as much of a star as the celebs that have bedded down here (John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Elizabeth Taylor, to name a few). And though the aura is luxe — if not formal — the property still serves up old-timey charms, like an old-fashioned soda fountain. Even following a $100-million renovation, the hotel feels perfectly preserved, from the signature banana leaf wallpaper that lines the halls to the stunning pool area.
Born as the Beverly Carlton, this 84-room property opened its doors in 1949. In 1999, designer Kelly Wearstler refurbished the interior, giving the hotel a fresh makeover while still retaining its original character. The result: A retro-chic vibe that appears in the form of molded seating, arching floor lamps, geometric patterns, and a hushed palette that includes icy blue, cream, and seafoam green hues. Everything centers around the property’s hourglass-shaped pool, bringing even more timeless, mid-century appeal to the grounds.
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