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LAX: Getting In : Inns and Outs : Even the best airport hotels can’t pass for resorts, but their weekend rates are a pleasure

In an ideal world, you might not choose to sleep in the shadow of Los Angeles International Airport. Airlines, after all, warn their flight crews not to walk along Century Boulevard at night.

And when the evaluators for the American Automobile Assn. last month disclosed their 1996 hotel ratings, there wasn’t a single airport-adjacent hotel among the four-diamond and five-diamond properties.

But there are times when an airport hotel is vital to a leisure traveler--to allow for awkward flight times at the beginning or end of a trip, or perhaps to house a car while you’re away. And though there may be no top-rated properties around LAX at the moment, there are plenty of comfortable, amenity-filled hotels. Each of the seven hotels listed here lies within two miles of LAX, offers free airport transportation, and stood out last month when I made an anonymous tour of public spaces and private rooms in airport-area hotels. (Many other hotels near the airport offer reasonable accommodations for $50-$150 nightly.) The list is in alphabetical order.

About rates: Since most of these are business hotels, prices fall on weekends. It won’t hurt to ask for weekend rates on Thursday and Sunday nights.

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* Central Plaza Los Angeles Airport Hotel, 6161 W. Century Blvd., telephone (800) 529-6161 or (310) 649-1400, fax (310) 649-0964; 178 rooms. Opened two years ago and run by a Thailand-based hotel group. “Park and fly” package (one night’s lodging and five days’ parking) for $95 subject to availability. One notable drawback: no pool. Double rooms listed at $115-$135; AAA members pay about $86; weekend rates begin at $69. Parking is free to guests. No non-guest parking.

* Doubletree L.A. Airport, 5400 W. Century Blvd., tel. (800) 222-TREE or (310) 216-5858, fax (310) 645-8053; 720 rooms. Complete interior renovation of guest rooms in 1994, when Doubletree management took over and renamed the former Stouffer Concourse Hotel. Two restaurants, pool, airy atrium lobby. Doubles $99 and up on weekdays; AAA members pay $89; weekend rates begin at $74. Parking $8.80 nightly. Non-guest parking available: “Park & Fly” offers a one-night stay and seven days’ parking for $99.

* L.A. Airport Hilton and Towers, 5711 W. Century Blvd., tel. (800) HIL-TONS or (310) 410-4000, fax (310) 410-6150; 1,200 rooms. Very big, very busy. Interior renovation in ’94. Doubles listed at $99-$129; AAA members get 10% off; weekend rates usually start at $79. Three restaurants. Self-parking $8 nightly; valet $12. Non-guest parking available.

* Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel, 5855 W. Century Blvd., tel. (800) 228-9290 or (310) 641-5700, fax (310) 337-5358; 1,010 rooms. Half of the rooms overlook a large, handsome pool and courtyard. Doubles listed at $119; weekend rates usually begin at $79. Self-parking $9 nightly, valet $12. Non-guest parking available: “Park & fly” package includes one night’s lodging, breakfast for two and seven nights’ parking for $129.

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* Renaissance Los Angeles Hotel, 9620 Airport Blvd., tel. (310) 337-2800, fax (310) 216-6681; 502 rooms. Doubles $130-$190; $117 for AAA members; $84 most weekends. Two restaurants, pool. Opened as an all-new facility in 1991. Parking $8 for guests. Non-guest parking available.

* Sheraton Gateway Hotel, 6101 W. Century Blvd., tel. (800) 325-3535 or (310) 642-1111, fax (310) 645-1414; 804 rooms. Renovation completed in March. Two restaurants and pool. Doubles rooms $115 and up; AAA members and retirees pay $97.50; weekend rates usually begin at $82. Self-parking $10; valet $12. Non-guest parking available.

* Wyndham Hotel at L.A. Airport, 6225 W. Century Blvd.; tel. (800) WYN-DHAM or (310) 670-9000, fax (310) 670-8110; 594 rooms. Operated under the Hyatt name until management changed last May 23. Restaurant, pool. Striking Asian-flavored design in public rooms, but passageways and guest rooms could stand sprucing up. Double rooms $119 on weekdays; AAA members pay $89; weekend rates usually begin at $89. Self-parking $9 nightly. Non-guest parking available.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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FACTOID

Secret limo-driver route: To avoid the jammed 10 and 405 freeways approaching LAX from the north/east, take La Cienega south through Baldwin Hills. Go right on La Tijera to Sepulveda Eastway, left to Sepulveda and right at the W. 96th St. airport entrance.


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