Surf and skate culture inspired the decor in the hotel's 81 rooms and 38 suites. Graffiti-style art covers the doors, and safety-yellow metal partitions in the rooms display sunglasses for sale. Private balconies overlook the hopping Venice boardwalk. We especially love the pillow menu and the open-air rooftop lounge, which has views of the Pacific Ocean, 250 feet away. But what's with the fireplaces in the suites? Really, in Venice? 1697 Pacific Ave., 310/452-1111, jdvhotels.com, rooms from $179.
Working hard to prove that airport hotels needn't be dull, the Custom employs a private shuttle that takes guests to and from LAX while playing techno music over silent Greta Garbo movies. Clearly, this place is a playground for grown-ups. DJs spin Afro-Cuban tunes at Hopscotch, the pool bar and grill with a fire pit, four cabanas, and vintage video games. Artistically inclined guests can borrow art supplies from the 12th-floor studio, Scribble. 8639 Lincoln Blvd., 310/645-0400, customhotel.com, rooms from $95.
This 68-room hotel sits in the heart of newly hot downtown L.A. Built in the 1920s, the steel-and-glass structure was recently renovated and now has a modern feel (think mood lighting that shines from under the beds and ergonomic desk chairs). The minimalist motif is mostly nice, except when it comes to things like cramped shower stalls. The on-site O Bar & Kitchen serves tapas and martinis until 11 p.m.—till 2 a.m. on weekends; a 7,000-square-foot underground lounge opens next spring. 819 S. Flower St., 213/623-9904, ohotelgroup.com, rooms from $129.
Hollywood Heights Hotel
In prime Hollywood, this hotel is within three blocks of the Walk of Fame, Madame Tussauds (opening August 1), and Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The lobby mixes the contemporary—white metal-frame sofas and graphic-print rugs—with black-and-white photos of film stars like Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. Low-key restaurant and bar Hideout serves pot pies, short ribs, and mac and cheese. 2005 N. Highland Ave., 323/876-8600, hollywoodheightshotel.com, rooms from $169.
Los Feliz Lodge
This group of 13 casitas was built in the 1920s as an enclave for the Paramount silent-film elite. The bungalows and villas—some of which still belong to full-time private residents—have amenities like stocked kitchens, washers, dryers, and French doors that lead to a communal patio. Los Feliz is a rare walkable neighborhood, and the Metro is only a five-minute stroll away. 1507 N. Hoover St., 877/660-4150, losfelizlodge.com, two-person bungalows from $150.