The Best Retro, Revamped, and Redesigned Motels and Hotels in Los Angeles

Check into these newly updated spots for a spectacular stay.

Oceana Santa Monica
Photo courtesy of Oceana Santa Monica
Photo courtesy of Oceana Santa Monica

It turns out it’s not just the celebrity residents of La La Land who undergo a nice glow up occasionally. These hotel properties across Greater Los Angeles have long stood the test of time as storied Tinseltown landmarks. From a former historic YWCA to a previously archaic office building and multiple outdated apartment complexes, these spots were recently redesigned and reborn to offer guests a trendy site to spend the night. From Malibu to Melrose Avenue and beyond, check out these 16 destinations bringing a whole new meaning to “aging gracefully.”

Palihouse Santa Monica
Photo courtesy of Palihouse Santa Monica

Palihouse Santa Monica is a Westside institution in Los Angeles, earning the official historic landmark status in 2001. This property has technically been in continuous operation since the late 1920s but was formerly known as The Embassy Hotel Apartments before transforming into the elegant hotel property it is today. It feels like a Gatsby-esque dream and has served guests since Santa Monica was a railroad stop, and visitors traveled from across the globe to spend some time in the sunshine. The building features an impressive display of Moorish-influenced Mediterranean Revival style architecture which is well preserved, as represented by its intact interior and exterior decor. Guests will also want to wander through the opulently lush gardens while experiencing a space that feels like a luxurious mix between a hotel and an apartment building.

Photo courtesy of Palihotel Melrose

Palihotel Melrose is a contemporary boutique-feeling hotel nestled into the buzzy Melrose shopping district, offering an intimate respite from the urban chaos of Los Angeles life. It’s designed to appeal to creative travelers seeking a unique hospitality experience, with a well-balanced feeling of contemporary features and classic decor. The building was built in the late 1960s and had previously served as first senior housing and then another hospitality business before transforming into the chic, cozy spot it is today. The interior spaces, including the rooms, lobby, food, and dining areas, have been developed to serve as communal-feeling inclusive places that represent a feeling of being in a welcoming, walkable neighborhood instead of in the middle of a bustling city. And it is incredibly accessible to multiple major mid-city LA attractions, including The Pacific Design Center, CBS Studios, The Grove, Rodeo Drive, the Beverly Center, and the Sunset Strip.

Palihotel Culver City
Photo courtesy of Palihotel Culver City

Palihotel Culver City is hidden just off the main street of Culver City’s downtown neighborhood, and going there feels like stepping back in time to an era of flapper girls and foxtrot dances but with more modern amenities and updated design elements. This property reimagines the former 1920s-era boarding house, the West End Hotel, into a contemporary boutique hotel with an upscale restaurant and bar serving both locals and guests as it pays homage to the area’s film-focused influence. The whole structure has been updated and renovated with care, featuring eclectic interiors that still manage to maintain the traditional bohemian and art deco origins. It’s set in an excellent location for checking out Culver City, close enough to all the action while also being tucked into an area that’s quiet enough to relax after a day or night out.

Palihotel Westwood Village
Photo courtesy of Palihotel Westwood Village

Palihotel Westwood Village is a charming boutique hotel nestled into Westwood Village, home to UCLA, one of the most recognized university towns in the US. It’s housed in a historic property that was actually the first hotel ever opened in Westwood Village back in 1939. Formerly the Claremont Hotel, it has since been transformed into a modern and upscale but approachable and charming neighborhood inn, emitting a well-balanced mix of mid-century modern furnishings with what their design team called “Parisian eclecticism.” Visitors will appreciate the peaceful courtyard on-site, the thoughtful art and design features of the property, and the walkability of its location in Westwood Village, which offers easy access to attractions such as LA favorite restaurants like Jon & Vinny’s and cultural attractions such as the Hammer Museum and the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden at UCLA.

Silver Lake Pool & Inn
Photo courtesy of Silver Lake Pool & Inn

The Silver Lake Pool & Inn is perched south of the iconic Sunset Junction area, in the heart of Los Angeles’ trendy, hipster Silver Lake neighborhood. This property took an outdated apartment building and transformed it into an airy, bright contemporary hotel property that’s reminiscent of an upgraded, groovy, elevated roadside motel. Guests can explore standout amenities like the aerial pool deck and the coastal Italian-inspired restaurant or spend time in their rooms appreciating design details like the vintage leather furniture, an abundance of natural light, and elements of lush greenery surrounding the common spaces. Outside of the property, Silver Lake is known as a very walkable neighborhood, meaning when guests aren’t enjoying the vibes on-site, they’re just a few steps away from top restaurants, an active indie music and art scene, a range of galleries, and the inspiring and artsy locals of the Silver Lake community.

The Prospect Hollywood
Photo by Jaime Kowal, courtesy of The Prospect Hollywood

Step back into the magic of the days of Hollywood’s Golden Age at the sophisticated 1939 Hollywood Regency-style building, The Prospect Hollywood, in the Whitley Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles just off Hollywood Boulevard. This property was inspired by Hollywood’s star-studded history and dazzling local neighborhood residents, feeling more like an overnight experience in a private, upscale apartment than a hotel. Immediately upon walking into the exquisitely furnished lobby, which doubles as a private cocktail bar, guests will feel the opulent atmosphere as they’re immersed in the rich dark emerald green walls, jewel-toned curtains, and golden palm sconces as an added touch of flare. Each room is themed after a historic Hollywood icon, and the location is pretty great, with legendary dining institutions like Musso & Frank right down the street.

Palihouse West Hollywood
Photo by Caylon Hack, courtesy of Palihouse West Hollywood

Palihouse West Hollywood is both the hotel group’s most seasoned and youngest property, having been recently renovated as a reimagined reincarnation of its original design, which served as the now well-known Paligroup brand's very first hotel. Today, guests can experience an even more modern, luxurious experience on the walkable West 3rd Street, near the border of Beverly Hills and close to West Hollywood, boasting nearly 100 guest rooms and an indoor/outdoor pool lounge, two distinct dining outposts, and a lobby lounge. Despite its size, which is larger than most other Palihouse properties, this destination still feels like a boutique oasis. The hotel aims to blend a sense of “California quirkiness” with the luxury of Europe’s most elegant inns and feels like a spot where both locals and visitors alike can gather and enjoy the atmosphere of this buzzy shopping and dining district. Every individual room on-site features unique, bespoke furniture, luxury linens, and Diptyque bath amenities in addition to other over-the-top offerings.

The Georgian Hotel
Photo courtesy of The Georgian

The Georgian

Santa Monica

Located on Santa Monica’s coastal skirting Ocean Avenue and perched above the waterfront, one of LA’s most beloved hotels, The Georgian was recently returned to its former glory after a massive restoration, recreating this fixture of the community, which dates back to 1933. Having hosted iconic Hollywood stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, and more in the past, it’s affectionately known to some as Santa Monica’s “First Lady” due to being one of the first high-rises built along Ocean Ave. For the most part, the refreshed hotel still features its preserved Period Revival-meets-Art Deco design, but it’s blended with contemporary California culture. Guests can still admire historical elements like the Art Deco furniture, ornate lighting, rare imported Italian marble, and the Sunset Bar’s Havana Deco-inspired floor pattern paired with the shared spaces that offered a bit of a classic Hollywood facelift.

Cara Hotel
Photo courtesy of Cara Hotel

Cara Hotel

Los Feliz

Cara Hotel is located in the under-the-radar neighborhood of Los Feliz at the foothills of Griffith Park, just a few minutes walk from the trails but feeling like a cozy cocoon that’s seemingly “hidden in plain sight.” The property used to be an outdated, 1950s-era motel with coin-slotted laundry machines but was recently revamped to become a California cool destination hotel with a courtyard featuring real, centuries-old olive trees and palms, a reflecting pool, and an empowering sense of minimalism in its warm, bright design. The name derives from the Gaelic translation of Cara, which means “friend,” because, with a classic nod to Irish hospitality, this is what the Cara Hotel wants its guests to feel like. This hotel is open and airy, with a fine sense of light bohemian decor and indoor and outdoor spaces that are purposefully designed to take advantage of the LA sunshine. Relax on the spacious patios, or explore the intimate courtyard balconies meant to offer visitors a sense of connection with the outdoors.

Oceana Santa Monica, Lxr Hotels & Resorts
Photo courtesy of Oceana Santa Monica, Lxr Hotels & Resorts

Oceana Santa Monica balances emitting a sense of playful California adventure while offering its guests a secluded Santa Monica haven in a location that’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s downtown while still being accessible to the action of the local bar and restaurant scene. The property first opened on the well-known, water-adjacent main road of Santa Monica, Ocean Avenue, in the ’90s and was owned by Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy), who had lived on-site in the ’40s and ’50s and hosted roaring parties for Hollywood celebs, such as Jerry Lewis and Dick Van Dyke, his apartment, room 203. In 2019, the property underwent an extensive $30 million renovation and debuted as Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts property, still hosting guests in its luxurious hideaway with ocean views in one of the area’s most coveted neighborhoods but with updated amenities and a reimagined design. Visitors can explore the lush, open-air courtyard, which features live greenery like lavender and lemon trees and showcases a sparkling pool with a sophisticated black-and-white-tiled deck surrounded by elegant lounge chairs. After a day of fun, it’s time to retreat into the seclusion of the ivy-covered rooms in this suites-only boutique destination hotel, which offers privacy for those who seek an intimate escape.

Hotel June Malibu
Photo courtesy of Hotel June Malibu

Hotel June Malibu is a one-of-a-kind property perched off the side of the famed Pacific Coast Highway, encompassing four lush acres of space and feeling like a soulful, secluded hideaway for any Los Angeles area escape. Visitors will spend the night in one of the 13 secluded bungalows, which are actually a reimagining of the existing beloved buildings of the original property, the “Malibu Riviera Motel,” which dated back to 1949 and sat on the same land for years serving as a hideaway for creatives like writers and musicians who needed to take some extra space for inspiration. In fact, it’s said that Bob Dylan took up residence in bungalow 13 of the motel in 1974 to write his groundbreaking album Blood on the Tracks. The property is just minutes from the beach and only 45 minutes outside of the urban LA scene, but it feels like a refreshing retreat with its breezy design and abundant connections to nature. Guests can either trek to the ocean for the day or spend time on-site in one of the revamped bungalows and enjoy the modern, minimalist amenities like the pool, one of Malibu’s only hotel swimming pools.

Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills
Photo courtesy of Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills

Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills proudly describes itself as “quintessentially LA.” It’s known for its trendy atmosphere and sense of cool allure in addition to its iconic boomerang-shaped pool, which is surrounded by a set of exclusive cabanas, some of which even offer charming views of the city. It’s almost a secret in the way that it’s nestled into a relatively quiet, residential neighborhood adjacent to the fame of Beverly Hills and its iconic shopping and dining scene but with the opportunity to lay low and relax outside of the Hollywood scene. The property was built in 1949 but found its second life and current name when it was re-imagined and redesigned in 1999. Famous guests such as Marilyn Monroe were known as frequent fliers in its original heyday. However, it today still emits a sense of “retro chic,” with decor that’s modern but also reminiscent of the hotel’s Old Hollywood roots and 1950s spirit. Many of the rooms and suites offer their own kitchenettes or private patios, and the property has a sense of “casual elegance” that makes visitors feel like they could run into someone famous at any moment.

Short Stories Hotel
Photo by Stefan Merriweather, courtesy of Short Stories Hotel

There’s a reason Short Stories has its name. Every trip to this property offers the opportunity to write a new, unique story. Whether stopping by the on-site restaurant with friends for a happy hour drink, working on-site as part of the property’s unique “membership club,” or staying overnight for a vacation or staycation experience in the heart of Los Angeles, guests of this property will be taken care of immediately upon entering the double doors, stepping into the well-appointed lobby, and being handed a signature “welcome drink.” There’s an outdoor pool and a gorgeously lush secret garden courtyard with a hypnotic fountain accented by additional classic design elements. It’s perched right across the street from iconic LA landmarks like The Grove and The Original Farmers Market and within walking distance of attractions like the La Brea Tar Pits and the LACMA. The property describes itself as “cultured California-contemporary,” and it feels like a destination within itself for both locals and visitors. Driven by an “experiential” element, it inspires people to pick up one of the plethora of beautiful books on the property and read a story before writing their own.

The Line Hotel in Koreatown dates back to 1964 and originally served as a mid-century office building, but in 2014 was transformed into a modern, chic hotel with a strong emphasis on its artistic design and cultural elements. Guests can spend time on-site admiring local makers' custom paintings and art installations that embellish the property’s public spaces or step off-site to explore this walkable neighborhood. The property is perfectly placed between the up-and-coming neighborhood of downtown LA and the buzzy shopping and dining mid-City area. Guests must spend some time at The Line’s well-known rooftop restaurant, Openaire, which is run by a prominent chef and set in a flourishing plant-filled greenhouse that’s acted as a filming location in multiple movies and boasts sweeping views of the city.

Hotel Figueroa
Photo by Tanveer Badal, courtesy of Hotel Figueroa
Situated in downtown LA, Hotel Figueroa was initially built in 1926 as a YWCA for women run by women. At the time, it was the largest commercial building funded in this way and overseen by the first-ever female managing director of a hotel in the US. Historically, it served as a safe space for solo female travelers (women were prohibited from checking into most hotels without a “male chaperone!) and was dubbed “an ideal stopping place for ladies unattended. Even 100 years later and after recently undergoing a multi-million dollar revamp, making it one of the trendiest hangout spots in DTLA, this space still serves as a spot for travelers to gather, relax, and reconnect either internally or inspire new relationships. Visitors can dine at one of the multiple on-site restaurants, lounge by the unique coffin-shaped pool, or attend one of the regular community gatherings and activities this hotel still commonly hosts and admire the ornate and historic Spanish colonial design details. The hotel is close to downtown attractions like arena and LA Live, making for a great place to set as a home base for an exciting adventure, with a calm atmosphere to spend a quiet night getting some good sleep.
Hotel Ziggy Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of Hotel Ziggy

Hotel Ziggy

West Hollywood

The recently revamped Hotel Ziggy is perched up on the Sunset Strip, serving as a high-energy gathering space for music lovers and entertainment industry aficionados worldwide. It was named in tribute to the legendary musician David Bowie (a.k.a Ziggy Stardust) and celebrates his outgoing spirit and unfiltered, unashamed sense of originality in its energy. Stepping inside, the rock ‘n’ roll vibes paired with a modern counter-culture feeling instantly kick in and might inspire visitors to bust into a rendition of “Rebel Rebel.” The renovation stripped the building to its bones and ushered in a new era of vivacity, with colorful street murals across the property and classic rock decor. This property offers the best of every world, boasting a chic cocktail lounge, a pizza joint called B Side with a grab-and-go window outside, an on-site music venue called Backbeat, and the largest saltwater pool in West Hollywood. In the past, it has welcomed notable musicians, both performers and as guests, including Pink Floyd’s Scott Page, Nine Inch Nails’ Alex Carapetis, and many more.

Molly O'Brien is a contributor for Thrillist.