- No room service
- No on-site gym (but free access to nearby L.A. Fitness)
- No elevator to access 2nd floor
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.
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.
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.
No nickel-and-diming: almost everything's free except the low-priced parking
With the exception of around $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.
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.
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.
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.
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