It has been said many times before in song and prose: Los Angeles is a state of mind. It's a mecca for creativity, glamour, the avant-garde, diversity and entertainment, drawing visitors from all over the country and the world. These ideas reveal themselves in the many cities and towns that make up the sprawling metropolis. Your favorite attractions may be miles away from each other: Universal Studios is at least 35 miles from Disneyland and the Rose Bowl is 27 miles from the Venice Beach Boardwalk. So finding hotels in Los Angeles demands that you figure out what you want to visit and then what ride you're going to rely on to get there.
Metro Rail Rapid Transit System
Nobody walks in L.A. but you can ride a fast urban rail system to get around. Starting with the Blue Line in 1990, Metro Rail now consists of six lines (Blue, Expo, Gold, Green, Purple and Red) that carry over 348,000 passengers on an average weekday. You have to wait no more than four to eight minutes to catch a car during peak hours or 10 to 20 minutes during off-peak times to travel over 87.7 miles of system length.
Depending on how long your vacation is, you can save money over the inexpensive one-ride rate by buying a 7-day or 30-day pass. These passes also let you ride Metro buses.
If you intend on doing the rails, find a hotel next to a station and you can get to any other sites that are by the Metro system, including Universal Studios Hollywood, TCL Chinese Theater, Norton Simon Museum, Olvera Street, USC and the Aquarium of the Pacific. Many hotel booking sites, such as Hipmunk, have a map, so you can see the hotels available in an area. Click on the hotel shown on the map to reveal such details as rates, amenities and address.
Take down the address and then enter it into Google Maps. That site can then show you if any Metro Rail stations are within walking distance of your chosen hotel. If you're not finding any, repeat the process until you find accommodations that work for you.
If you rent a car, your options in hotel rental are literally unlimited. You can find a hotel based on price, amenities and immediate surroundings because your vehicle lets you drive anywhere else. To save money, look for a hotel with free parking. Just remember that the locals navigate using L.A.'s extensive freeway system: they use highway numbers, such as the 5 or the 10, and exits as main streets and sign posts. If you have a choice of locations, pick accommodations that are closer to a freeway entrance so you can reach your destination more quickly.
If you're arriving into the city by plane, you'll save money if you rent your car through an off-airport location. (If available, a shuttle can take you directly to your hotel, from which many rental companies can pick you up.) The airport adds surcharges to every transaction that are absent from off-site rentals. To get to your destination faster, travel outside of the morning and evening rush hours. You can also use the carpool lane, which only requires two people in a vehicle for use.
This article was contributed by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a complete travel platform that allows you to do everything from comparing charter flights and train rides, to finding the best resort hotels and Airbnb rentals.