If you’re expecting old-fashioned, movie-star glamour, Hollywood is likely to disappoint. Today’s Hollywood is more Target than Tiffany. But where else can you stroll along the Walk of Stars, admire Marilyn Monroe’s hand prints, and have your picture taken with Spiderman?

 

The heart of the neighborhood is Hollywood & Highland, where you’ll find the Kodak Theater (where the Academy Awards are handed out), Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and lots of restaurants and shopping.

The area is most exciting at night. And there are several Hollywood hotels that will put you right in the heart of the action.

Opened as part of the glitzy Hollywood & Highland shopping and entertainment complex in 2001, the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel has 635 rooms and suites. Its current claim to fame is that it’s Oscar-central on the night of the Academy Awards. Rooms are large, bright, and colorful with retro-modern furnishings. And upper-floor rooms have good views of the Pacific, downtown, or the Hollywood Hills. The hotel has pretty much everything travelers want – a restaurant, several bars, a swimming pool, a spa, fitness center, and WiFi access. And the up-scale shops and restaurants in the adjoining complex are literally steps away. Since parking – and traffic – can be challenging here – the shuttle to the nearby Hollywood Bowl is a big perk.

For Tinseltown history, you can’t beat the Roosevelt Hotel, which hosted the first Oscars in 1929. Today, the 12-story property benefits from a $30 million renovation that left it the best hotel in Hollywood. It’s a national historic landmark and the only hotel from Hollywood’s heyday that’s still around. The restoration preserved many of the architectural features from the 1920s, including the Spanish tiles, painted ceilings, columns, fountains, and archways in the common areas. The best rooms here are the cabana rooms that have a terrace or balcony overlooking the Olympic-sized pool. Since the pool-side Tropicana Bar is jumping well into the wee hours, they’re not the best choice for those who turn in early. Rooms in the main building are modern and tricked out with platform beds made with Frette linens, and all the latest electronics. Guest can choose between the excellent Dakota steak house or the up-market burger bar, 25 Degrees.

 

The Hollywood Roosevelt is once more the place to see and be seen.

The Magic Castle is a Los Angeles institution. Housed in a 1908 mansion, it’s a private club for professional magicians and their guests. To attend dinner and a show there, you need to be invited by a member – or be a guest of the Magic Castle Hotel, just down the hill.

There’s nothing especially magical or castle-like about the hotel. It used to be an apartment building, and that’s what it looks like. But the bigger rooms have fully equipped kitchens, and there’s an inviting heated swimming pool surrounded by tropical landscaping. The hotel is a short stroll to Hollywood and Highland. Service is much better than you’d expect. And it’s the best value in the neighborhood. If you do stay there, dress up and go for dinner and a performance at the Magic Castle. You won’t be disappointed.

Read about other California hotels here.

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