If you've been in Los Angeles lately, you already know – there's a lot going on. Finally stepping into the role it was born to play, the nation's second largest city is evolving at a rate so speedy, even lifelong Angelenos can't keep up. One thing everyone's noticing, however: Being here is more expensive than it's been in, well, possibly forever. One of the most significant changes to the city, however, has been the addition of a steadily growing rail transport network, allowing visitors to not only go car-free, but also allowing them to utilize the trains to take advantage of more reasonable hotel rates than they're currently going to find in the most heavily-visited areas. Areas now served by public transportation.
Heading to town? Grab a fare card and go get a good deal – here are just a handful of hotels that allow you to sleep cheap while remaining an easy, $1.75 ride away from top attractions like the Santa Monica Pier, Universal Studios, Old Town Pasadena, the now must-see downtown Los Angeles and – of course – the heart of old Hollywood.
You may not previously have chosen to spend the night in far-flung locations like the ones we'll talk about below, but odds are good that you'll be glad you did. Most, if not all, offer a glimpse into a side of LA many visitors don't see, with plenty of convenient dining (and, often, good shopping) right around where you'll be returning at the end of each day. To learn more about fares and service on LA's fast-growing Metro network to help you plan your trip, check out metro.net.
Station: Sierra Madre Villa (Gold Line), 5 minute walk
Why here: Consistently good rates, free breakfast and a handy Sprouts (organic supermarket) across the street for you to fill up your in-room refrigerators with healthy snacks make this a great way to save big, just a short hop from the action in Old Town Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles.
In the neighborhood: Come home at night and choose from two of the area's best old-timey Chinese-American joints: Yang Chow and Panda Inn, both a few minutes' walk from the hotel. This stretch of Colorado Boulevard may not look like much, but just above the 210 freeway, you'll find scads of convenient shopping (Whole Foods, Target and more).
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Los Angeles Downtown West
Station: Westlake/MacArthur Park (Red Line), 5 minute walk
Why here You'll find everything you'd expect from this trusty brand (comfortable, big beds, free breakfast, calming, modern design) just steps from the subway in one of the least calm parts of Los Angeles. Westlake, as the neighborhood is known, is one of the most densely populated areas in the United States, a never-boring neighborhood that feels more like Fordham Road in The Bronx than anything you'd expect to find in La La Land. Staying here puts you just one stop away from everything going on downtown right now. (Which is a lot.) Best of all, you're paying about half of what they're charging down there for an equivalent stay.
In the neighborhood One of America's last great Jewish delis, Langer's, has been operating in the neighborhood longer than many of us have been alive. Come for breakfast or an early lunch; things get a little insane by noon most weekdays.
Towne Place Suites Los Angeles LAX/Manhattan Beach
Station: Douglas (Green Line), 10 minute walk
Why here: Feel right at home in Los Angeles for less with full kitchens, free breakfast, free internet, year-round reasonable rates and Trader Joe's right across the street.
In the neighborhood: The hotel is at the eastern edge of one of the South Bay's best shopping strips – pretty much anything you might want or need is in here somewhere, along with plenty of great food and very good branch of the regionally popular Arclight cinema chain (yes, the same as the one in Hollywood). One of Southern California's most popular beaches -- and beachfront walks – can be found just a tiny bit further down the street ($5-$6 with Lyft).
Station: Arcadia (Gold Line), 5 minute walk
Why here: This top-rated location of a good value brand sits in a convenient location near the train station; three very different experiences (Old Town Pasadena, Downtown Los Angeles and the of-the-moment Highland Park neighborhood of LA) are a quick ride away.
In the neighborhood: Arcadia is at the heart of the San Gabriel Valley's now-legendary Asian dining scene, but its traditional downtown, where the hotel is located, isn't exactly walking distance from all that – here, the classic Derby steakhouse (Hollywood's Musso & Frank Grill, accessible from here by train, if you don't mind the trek, is way better) and SoCal buffet staple Souplantation (it's pretty good!) are your options on the block. If you've a mind to Lyft or Uber your way around, however, you're within about $5-$6 of some of the continent's best Asian eats – everything from the original North American location of Taiwanese dumpling legend Din Tai Fung to late-night hot pot joint HaiDiLao, located inside the glittering mini-city that is the Santa Anita shopping mall.
Shelter Hotels Los Angeles
Station: Wilshire/Normandie (Red Line), 7 min
Why here: LA's Koreatown is So Hot Right Now – see it all going down at talked-about restaurants like Here's Looking At You or in the lobby of the edgy Line Hotel, not to mention the 24-hour BBQ joints and cool Korean coffee shops that reminded everyone this vast swath of Los Angeles was still here in the first place. Staying here's getting expensive, but this tarted-up old property an easy walk from everything can still be an excellent value.
In the neighborhood: From cheap breakfasts and desserts at Paris Baguette to a late-night KBBQ sesh at Quarters, you're within a block or so of all sorts of excellent food. While you're here, pay tribute to the nearby HMS Bounty, one of Charles Bukowski's old haunts, still trucking along inside the old Gaylord Apartments.
Holiday Inn Express North Hollywood
Station: North Hollywood (Red Line), 5 min
Why here: This sleek, new build hotel with all the comforts you expect from the brand (free internet, free breakfast) helps you save big over the just-okay hotels near Universal Studios, one station stop away.
In the neighborhood: You're at the top end of what's known as the NoHo Arts District, an area that's been slowly changing over the years for the better – it's not quite worth the detour for visitors, but since you're here, you might as well enjoy – all around the station and on your short walk home, you'll find a ton of convenient shopping and casual dining, plus a growing number of cool drinking establishments such as The Federal, Kahuna Tiki and El Tejano. Like to eat well on a budget? Two of the San Fernando Valley's better stops in that category – Hayat's Kitchen for Lebanese and Rodini Park for Greek – are within walking distance of the hotel.