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L.A.'s best boutique hotels

Each of these boutique hotels in L.A. has its own unique twist, making them shoe-ins for our list of city's best

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Whether you're a tourist traveling through or have recently moved here, if your first glimpse of L.A. life happens inside a boutique hotel, it’s only fitting that your stay should come with all the trimmings. We’re talking mood lighting, vintage records from L.A.'s best record stores, and in-house Shiatsu massage therapists. In fact, imagination takes a front seat in our list of L.A.’s best boutique hotels, encompassing everything from funky lobby bars to rooms styled after fictional characters. Each spot on our list of L.A.'s best boutique hotels has its own unique twist, but as far as we’re concerned, the weirder, the better.

Top boutique hotels in L.A.

Hotel Covell

Every hotel has a story, but nowhere is that story as pronounced than at Hotel Covell, a five-room boutique hotel in Los Feliz. Situated above Bar Covell (and owned by the bar's founder, Dustin Lancaster), Hotel Covell's rooms tells the story of George Covell, a fictional character, in various stages of his life. It starts at the very beginning, of course—Chapter One conjurs up images of George's origins in the American Mid-West; Chapter Two channels a 1950's New York bachelor apartment; Chapter Three, a Parisian love nest, which he shares with his French fling, Claudine; and so on. Each room has been meticulously curated by interior designer Sally Breer, capturing the individual themes with reading nooks and record players, claw-footed tubs and statement furniture. There isn't a pool or gym, but amenities come in other forms: an attentive concierge, an intimate rooftop deck, room service from Home State and Bar Covell (not to mention a bottle of wine from the downstair's bar upon arrival), and miraculously soundproof rooms that make Hollywood seem hundreds of miles away.

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Los Feliz

Farmer's Daughter

It’s not easy turning a run-down 1960s strip motel into a sought-after, country-kitsch boutique hotel full of charm and charisma. But upon revamping the property in the early 2000s, owners Peter and Ellen Picataggio managed to do just that. Building on the hotel’s excellent location (it’s across the street from the Grove shopping mall), the couple infused playful elements like rocking Adirondack chairs and rough-hewn barn doors, and stamped the building’s exterior with a metal cut-out of a girl in pigtails holding a watering can (hence the name). Despite the tongue-in-cheek denim bedspreads and checkered curtains, rooms here are pretty straightforward, so don’t come expecting the Ritz. By far, the heart of the house is the lively Tart restaurant, which plays up the Southern comfort theme with heaping plates of biscuits and shrimp and grits. Feel like getting the party started early? The lobby hosts a free whiskey happy hour every day at 5pm.

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Fairfax District
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The Line

Koreatown’s breakout star is a 383-room hipster haven with a 90s-themed cocktail bar and a room service menu that riffs on the hotel’s K-town surroundings. Housed in a 1964 building, each guest room is a masterpiece of stark industrial refinement, with raw concrete walls, offbeat photography, and monochrome decor—the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the the L.A. skyline make a striking backdrop. The fitness center, bike rentals, and weekly yoga classes prove there’s more here than just slick art and high-concept interiors.  Perfect for those who show up to mix and mingle, the soaring greenhouse-roofed Commissary Restaurant is a must, serving up everything from coconut milk green curry to Wagyu beef burgers; after dinner, head down to the hotel’s secret karaoke suites, Break Room 86, to end the night on a high (albeit off-key) note.

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Koreatown

Mama Shelter LA

Located in Hollywood, Mama Shelter boasts a central location, close to the Capitol Records Building, Dolby Theater and Hollywood Bowl. There's an outstanding bar and restaurant, and free WiFi throughout the property. After stuffing yourself with Jidori chicken and spicy baby back ribs, head up to the rooftop bar, an exotic space with multicolored sofas, outdoor movie screenings, and sweeping views of Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, the  rooms—livened up with tie-dye pillows and Spanish tile floors—make a stylish (if slightly quirky) place to rest your head.

 

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Hollywood
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Palihouse

Designed like an artist's studio with shelves of old books, exposed brick walls and custom-designed leather furniture, every suite at Palihouse comes equipped with a microwave, two-top burner and dishware—making the 36-room hotel perfect for anyone who plans to make L.A. their home for a few weeks or even a few months. With fun hangout spaces like the casual courtyard restaurant Mardi and the vintage-inspired lobby lounge, you may never want to leave. (Like the vibe but want to explore a different neighborhood? Don’t forget to check out owner Avi Brosh’s other properties, Palihotel and Palihouse Santa Monica.)

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West Hollywood

The Rose Hotel

In 2014, fashion photographer Glen Luchford seized this fixer-upper on Rose Avenue, once rumored to be the brothel of Venice founding father Abbot Kinney. Under Luchford’s hand, the century-old interiors—spread across two floors, with emphasis on a trio of stunning, individually styled suites—were beautifully transformed. Luminous French doors, antique pine dressers, and clawfoot tubs honor the building’s past, while ticking every design purist’s box. In case you need more pampering, though, there’s Stumptown coffee in the lobby, as well as in-house massage therapists peddling Shiatsu and Thai treatments.  

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Venice
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Mr. C Hotel

Just south of Rodeo Drive, the Venetian-inspired Mr. C Beverly Hills manages to create a custom-tailored experience with a minimum of pomp and pretense. Yes, they’ll have a cool Bellini waiting for you at check-in, but the rooms are more California Modern than Doge’s Palace, with classic tufted leather couches and polished wood floors (in particular, the oak-paneled Residences are a great pick if you’re in town for a while). From the tiny bowties on the toiletries to the cocktail shakers in each room, Mr. C has a genuine old-world Hollywood vibe going for it, but remains firmly in the present with up-to-date amenities like 42" flat screns TVs, free WiFi, and a fully-equipped fitness center. Private balconies in all the rooms look out onto gardens brimming with California citrus and English roses, while a particularly inviting outdoor pool is supplemented with cabanas, a pristine teak deck, and poolside bar.  The hotel also shares in Italy’s love of cycling with its "Mr. C Cycles," a fleet of Italian Colnago c60 bikes and Kask helmets. Mr. C Spa & Beauty also features "Ride Recover" spa service, including a 60-minute ESPA Fitness Aromatherapy Massage & Steam with ESPA Fitness Oil, which has clove, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils to increase blood flow to heal and sooth tired muscles as well as lavender and rosemary to relax and calm the mind.

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Beverly Hills

Los Angeles Athletic Club

The Los Angeles Athletic Club is a deluxe fitness center and private social club nestled in an early 20th Century, 12-story building Downtown. The Club's facilities include a state-of-the-art gym (spanning three floors), a spa, and a 25-yard lap pool where guests and locals alike sign up for water aerobics classes and can even attempt a scuba diving course. The third-floor, porcelain-tiled bistro is probably one of the most elegant breakfast rooms in all of Los Angeles; across the hall, there’s Invention, a 1940s-style cocktail bar with impressive whiskey flights. The sizable rooms feel a little dark and heavy-handed, though the stationary bikes are a fun play on the hotel’s track-and-field vibe.

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Downtown
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The Redbury

Home-away-from-home may be a cliche, but for this collaboration between SBE Group and esteemed photographer Matthew Rolston, it's appropriate. The bachelor pad-cum-boutique hotel features 57 generously sized rooms with paisley prints, old-fashioned English sofas and vintage record players (vinyl supplied). Modern amenities such as Blu-ray disc players, Wi-Fi and kitchenettes with microwaves and washer-dryers assures you'll want for nothing. Each room has a balcony, some overlooking the iconic Capitol Records building. Guests are given preferential access to other SBE properties, although with the Library Bar, Glade courtyard lounge and Cleo restaurant, why would they ever want to leave?

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Hollywood

Shade

This sparkling property hasn't been solely responsible for the regeneration of Manhattan Beach, but its influence has been huge. It's a small property but pretty perfectly formed: slick yet approachable, stylish yet not without a sense of humor. The 38 guest-rooms make great use of the space: Multi-purpose tables can be rolled back and forth over the beds for breakfast or for use as a desk, while all rooms have vast spa-baths, DVD players and color-adjustable chromatherapy lighting. Downstairs is a big central courtyard and the slick Zinc lounge; upstairs is the handsome Skydeck, complete with a bijou pool. If you stay in the penthouse suite, you'll won't need either—it has a beer tap in its kitchenette. An impressive spot.

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Manhattan Beach
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Looking for more great hotels in L.A.?

The best hotels in Los Angeles

What exactly gives a resort the distinction of being one of the best hotels in Los Angeles? Is it being by one of LA's best beaches? Or proximity, whether by foot, train or car, to the top Los Angeles attractions? Is it a room so decadently comfortable that you never want to leave? Or a top-notch hotel brunch? These accommodations manage to check those marks and more to earn a spot in our list of the very best hotels in Los Angeles.

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By: Michael Juliano

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