Contrary to popular belief, hotel bars aren't all about $18 drinks and bougie clientele. Some of the best cocktail bars in LA are found in hotels, both budget-friendly and swanky. The best part? If you've had one too many, there's a bed with your name on it just steps away. From casual rooftop bars to celebrity-studded lounges, here are our favorite hotel bars—no room reservations necessary.
Drink up at these top hotel bars
A bowling alley might not be the first place you’d think to grab drinks in Hollywood, but this isn’t any ordinary bowling alley. Stashed away in the shadowy mezzanine above the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel lobby is the Spare Room, devised to evoke pure revelry. A show-stopping set of lanes dating back to the early 1800s stretch the length of the handsome parlor, oozing with Art Deco elegance and a clear view of Hollywood Boulevard out of big cast-iron arched windows. Though let’s face it: the real reason to visit this covert gaming lounge bookended by two gleaming bars is the ace drink program, recently revived by head bartender Yael Vengroff. Punch bowls and tiki drinks abound here—and yes, they just might make your bowling game better.
Yet another outstanding bar can be found inside the Roosevelt Hotel, this time in the ground floor lobby. Amidst the soaring beamed ceilings and Mediterranean tiles centered around an indoor fountain, you can sip on fantastic libations driven by seasonal ingredients. Order a cocktail and settle into black leather couches, or take it for a wander through the hotel’s many nooks and crannies to stalk out a hidden corner.
Hollywood gets all the credit for creating movies, but at one time, Culver City is where most of the "lights, camera, action" actually happened. As movie posters and memorabilia dotting the lobby will remind you, the Westside’s historic hotel housed silver screen legends from the Munchkins during filming of the Wizard of Oz to Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin, who allegedly sold the hotel for a dollar to John Wayne in a game of poker. Despite the dramatic outfitting—massive stone fireplace, heavy draping over arched windows—the lobby bar has a low-key, neighborhood feel. Groups can spread out on comfy, velour couches, while tables for two are perfect for date-night, pre-dinner cocktail or night cap. Come after 7:30pm on any night of the week, and you'll be treated to live jazz.
On the ground floor of the Best Western Hollywood Hills Hotel is the aptly named MiniBar. Born of the brains that brought us Dominick’s and Little Dom’s, this 32-seat hideaway offers a sanctuary for the pensive imbiber; a place to get out without the usual chaos that accompanies going “out”—and with parking validation to boot. The moment we entered the bar, we were captivated: every square inch of the space is thoughtfully designed, with accordion-style warm wood paneling, retro brass light fixtures and white leather swivel chairs. Our favorite drink here, the Fuzzy del Navel, is refreshing, colorful and garnished with a cute little cocktail umbrella.
Look good—but not like you're trying too hard—when visiting Upstairs, a Moroccan oasis perched atop the trendy Ace Hotel. The elevator next to L.A. Chapter is your key to getting inside (or rather, outside) the buzzing, open-air roof deck, swathed in an exotic canopy and scattered with hip Downtowners clutching plastic cups. Perfect for an after-work schmooze or a reunion with old friends, you'll find two bars to order a drink from (be warned: weekends bring the requisite long lines). Try the Lefty Lucy, a surprisingly easy-to-drink concoction made with chile liqueur, peach liqueur, ginger, lime and yellow chartreuse.
The Peninsula extends luxury and excellent service to its Beverly Hills outpost's Club Bar, the hotel's cocktail lounge. Understated and unobtrusive (and quite expensive—glasses of wine extend into the $25 range), it’s not a scene, but it’s where the real power players—the agents and producers and other power houses you won’t recognize—wheel and deal over single malts and the classiest bar snacks in town, from complimentary housemade taro chips and wasabi almonds to a la carte dim sum. Grab a seat at the bar or people-watch at the more intimate banquettes.
Be a tourist in your own town for a night. Past the lobby bar and up on the 34th floor, Downtown’s Bonaventure hotel is the home of the famous Bona Vista Lounge. Sure, it’s a little cheesy—moderately-priced, classic cocktails are served in souvenir glasses—but it is a fun, classic LA thing to do. And the bar doesn't offer just regular, sky-high views—the lounge rotates, making it better to take in all of Downtown's night views.
While the airy, bright lobby lounge at the newly renovated Hotel Bel-Air is for hotel guests, plebeian visitors can head for the darker, sexier bar. Settle on the front patio or fireside (and piano side, in the evenings) in the stylish, Art Deco–inspired space. With Wolfgang Puck behind the drink and food menus, bar treats include caviar and a schmancy, egg-topped club sando, with seasonal cocktails served in crystal stemware—lest you forget even for a second where you are.
We're already big fans of Mama Shelter as a hotel and a restaurant (there's a downstairs bar, too), but now that the rooftop bar is open, we just might move in for good. The colorful space is splattered with multicolored sofas and chairs where you can lounge while waiting for shawarma to arrive; the Mediterranean-inspired menu also serves falafel, salmon skewers and a few hummus options. Cocktails also pay tribute to the Mediterranean, with drinks like the Za'atar Margarita and Mediterranean Mule. On warm nights, you can dance under the stars while DJs spin an eclectic mix of music, or take in a classic movie on their outdoor screen. There's also a foosball table, a yoga studio and sweeping views of Hollywood. Like we said, we're moving in.
Set back just a touch from Santa Monica Boulevard is the West Hollywood branch of Palihouse, sporting a mod living room bar, complete with enormous, upholstered couches and Moroccan-inspired tiles. The scene? Languid imbibing (house cocktails feature small-label spirits and fresh ingredients, while by-the-glass selections emphasis craft brews and California reds) and the occasional mini-dance party that tends to break out. If you get hungry, Mardi is Palihouse's courtyard restaurant right across the way—which has outstanding cocktails in its own right.
Beachside rooftops are in surprisingly short supply in LA, making the Hotel Erwin's High Rooftop Lounge an in-demand spot for sun-kissed Venice Beach locals. Even if you’re staying at the hotel, be sure to make a reservation. There’s nothing like a multi-hued sunset over the Pacific with a cocktail in hand to get Angelenos buzzing. Getting chilly? Evening bar-goers can stay past sundown wrapped up in one of the bar’s cozy blankets, along with a spiked cocoa or hot root beer float. If you don’t like your drinks sweet, stick to local craft brews to pair with midnight (gourmet) munchies like the mini lobster roll and a bacon, cream cheese, jalapeño hot dog.
Past the Langham's lobby—it’s really more of a high tea kind of place—head into the Tap Room, a bar that encourages a rather elegant take on beer appreciation: local, craft brews on tap and more by the bottle. (The wine and Scotch lists are pretty nice, too.) The dark wood and white fabric furnishings, weekend live jazz and classic cocktails are an homage to the hotel's roots as an original 1933 watering hole, but the bar bites—lobster corn dogs, Kobe sliders, ice cream flights—are thoroughly contemporary hits.
The main draw for civilians at the Chateau is the celeb spottings, but whatever you do, play it cool. Act like you belong among the pretty young things who sprawl on oversized seats and couches in the lobby. With a what-happens-in-the-Chateau-stays-in-the-Chateau ethos, partying is encouraged here—though no jumping (or late-night swimming) in the pool for non-guests. The shabby chic-meets-Spanish-Gothic-revival decor (the hotel opened in 1929 and hasn’t really been overhauled since) pairs with nothing better than a bottle of champagne. Oh, if these walls could talk.