A trip to Los Angeles wouldn’t be complete without a little celebrity spotting. Stars in L.A. are practically everywhere, all the time, and for the most part, they’re used to being gawked at. But if you want to avoid looking like a tourist (we’re talking to you, Star Tours bus riders!), we suggest you eat, shop, drink and play among the stars in their natural habitats—a mix of attractions and restaurants and bars (make your reservations now). We give you: L.A.’s top celebrity hangouts. Now... just act natural.
The Scene: Housed in the former United Artists building, the hotel pays homage to L.A.’s essence—a seamless harmony of California minimalism and downtown L.A.’s signature art deco style. Inside, the hotel has exposed concrete galore with sleek fixtures and furniture, plus a bar that's destination enough for locals.
The Celebrities: Anna Kendrick, Aloe Blacc, Lykke Li, Jennifer Lawrence, Sky Ferreira, Matt Damon
Insider Tip: Head to the hotel’s rooftop bar for a swanky scene of hipsters, musicians, models and designers. The best time to go is following a musical performance at the Theatre at Ace Hotel.
The Scene: The famous pink stucco façade, the manicured grounds and the sumptuous rooms of the Beverly Hills Hotel look as fresh and fanciful as they did on opening day 100 years ago. It oozes exclusivity: every screen legend from Valentino to Arnie has slept in this fabled hideaway or held court in its still-popular Polo Lounge. The biggest draw are the bungalows, where Liz Taylor spent six of her honey-moons: No.5 has its own pool; No.7 is decorated to Marilyn’s taste.
The Celebrities: Kim Kardashian, Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry, Michael Douglas, Nicole Kidman, Warren Beatty
Insider Tip: If lunch at the iconic Polo Lounge is too expensive, walk the grounds of the hotel (check out the poolside restaurant), or just sit in the lobby—you're bound to spot a few stars on their way in or out of the hotel.
The Scene: This barn-themed retail village features luxe shopping (Jenni Kayne, James Perse, Sugar Paper) sipping (Caffe Luxxe) and dining (Farmshop and Sweet Rose Creamery) amid such quirky touches as old-fashion kids’ mechanical rides, picnic benches in two separate enclosed patios, pony rides on Sundays and al fresco summer movies.
The Celebrities: Reese Witherspoon, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Alessandra Ambrosio
Insider Tip: Brentwood is a family-oriented L.A. nabe, so head to the Westside hot spot during the day. From grabbing a morning coffee at Caffe Luxxe to afterschool lunch at Farmshop with kids in tow or shopping at celebrity-loved brands such as Christian Louboutin and Broken English, you will definitely see stars at this old-fashioned country mart.
The Scene: One of the many beautiful things about this Hollywood Hills fixture is that it’s barely changed over the decades. The hotel still attracts the brazen and the beautiful (everyone from Led Zeppelin to Lindsay Lohan has stayed here; John Belushi OD-ed in bungalow 3); it still offers a quintessentially glamorous L.A. experience; and it still promises its guests absolute discretion.
The Celebrities: Emily Ratajkowski, Lady Gaga, Kit Harington, Lana Del Rey, Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan
Insider Tip: Expect to spot a crowd of paperazzi at this L.A. institution. If heading here during the day, dine on the patio at the hotel’s main restaurant and keep your eyes open. Just remember the hotel’s “no photography” policy.
The Scene: Disneyland isn’t so much a park as its own separate world; there are even three Disney-operated hotels in the resort, so you need not have the illusion shattered at the end of the day. It’s worth noting, though, that ticket prices drop if you visit for multiple days, recommended if you want to get a real feel for the place and enjoy all the rides.
The Celebrities: John Stamos, Jamie Foxx, Reese Witherspoon, Kelly Clarkson
Insider Tip: Keep an eye out for personal Disneyland tour guides (wearing plaid) usually accompanying celebs and their families.
The Scene: From the fragrant, flower-filled lobby to the immaculate rooms, which come with chinoiserie headboards and Frette linens, every detail is calculated to spoil visitors. The revamped pool area features a state-of-the-art gym and the lovely shaded Cabana café. Other major draws include the superb spa and Culina, the ground-floor modern Italian restaurant and crudo bar.
The Celebrities: Jessica Chastain, Zoe Saldana, Lea Michele, Orlando Bloom, Morgan Freeman, Jason Statham, Katy Perry, Lauryn Hill
Insider Tip: Make a reservation at Culina for lunch or dinner. You’re bound to see an A-lister every time you visit the hotel’s swanky restaurant.
The Scene: This quaint Hollywood neighborhood features some of the best places to spot celebs. Head to the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre (UCB) for an improv show—many of our most beloved comedy stars got their start here. Then head to dinner at La Poubelle and later, stop by Birds for a nightcap. Both spots, especially the former, a romantic French bistro, are swarming with celebrities.
The Celebrities: Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Justin Long, Amanda Seyfried, Robert Pattinson
Insider Tip: If you recognize someone famous in the audience at UCB, chances are they will be at Birds or La Poubelle afterwards.
The Scene: This elite and quietly decadent Mission-style ‘20s hotel, a deamy getaway on 12 fairytale acres of lush landscaping, reopened in 2011 after a major two-year overhaul. The additions—which include new lofts and hillside suites, a La Prairie spa and fitness center, plus upgraded room features—are impressive, but thankfully the overall vibe hasn't changed much: Guests still enjoy spending long afternoons by the pool, meandering through the gardens or subtly trying to spot which Hollywood player is sitting at the next table in the Wolfgang Puck restaurant.
The Celebrities: Beyonce, Jay Z, a few Real Housewives and of course, Wolfgang Puck
Insider Tip: A must-try spot to see celebrities dining is at Wolfgang Puck restaurant at Hotel Bel Air. The alcoves along the back wall are hidden from the rest of the tables, so be sure to walk by ever so discretely.
The Scene: The bequest of entrepreneur Henry E Huntington is now one of the most enjoyable attractions in the Los Angeles region. It’s also not a destination that you should attempt to explore in full during a single day: between the art, the library holdings and the spreadeagled outdoor spaces, there’s plenty to see, and most of it is best enjoyed at lingering leisure rather than as part of a mad day-long dash.
The Celebrities: Ron Howard, Gwen Stefani, Vanessa Hudgens
Insider Tip: The property is massive so be prepared to walk on your hunt to see celebrities. You will mainly find stars roaming the beautiful gardens.
The Scene: As Malibu’s main hub, this casual outdoor shopping and dining center attracts a mix of both locals grabbing lunch in wetsuits, celebrities pretending they don’t want to be seen and tourists who stroll through after a day at the beach. Make sure to also check out the adjacent Malibu Lumber Yard, a virtual extension of the Country Mart, with additional shopping and dining options.
The Celebrities: Justin Beiber, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Cindy Crawford, Pink, Simon Cowell, Rosie Huntington-Whitley, Pamela Anderson, the Kardashians and the Jenners
Insider Tip: Celebrity loved spots include dining at Cafe Habana and watching their youngsters at the mart’s playground.