Where you can stay in L.A. for around $100 a night or less

Hostels, where people share rooms with strangers, are a classic low-budget option for travelers. Hostelling International, part of a chain, can accommodate up to 273 guests in a place that’s a short walk from the Santa Monica Pier.

There's plenty to see and do in Los Angeles, but it comes at a cost--about $200 a night, according to the Statista website.

Granted, that's not as much as, say, San Francisco, where you'll pay about $300, or New York, which can run $330, but it can add up to a big chunk of change.


If you look hard enough, you'll find hidden gems around the L.A. area that won't break your bank.

In June and July, I explored three budget-friendly places across Los Angeles, chosen for the variety of experiences. I spent time with the people who run them and stayed at them to get a sense of what you can get for $100 or less in L.A. Here is what I found.

Santa Monica

Front entrance to Hostelling, on 2nd Street in Santa Monica.
Front entrance to Hostelling, on 2nd Street in Santa Monica. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Hostels, where people share rooms with strangers, are a classic low-budget option.

Hostelling International is a chain, and its Santa Monica lodging can accommodate up to 273 guests a short walk from the Santa Monica Pier.

You'll encounter a global crowd here, and pub crawls and movie nights make introductions to your travel mates easy.

On one recent night, guests met in Rapp's Saloon before a pub crawl. The hosts, volunteer Will Kastarian and community engagement coordinator Bevin Ochoa, briefed about 10  travelers from Australia, the Netherlands and Brazil on U.S. tipping culture and what to expect from the four bars on their itinerary.

Such gatherings also are a way to meet locals, said Ochoa, who helps coordinate events and outings that include movie, poetry and comedy nights, city tours and concerts at the pier.

Budget is partly what brought friends Laura Skinner, 26, and Lucy Nathanson, 26, to the Santa Monica hostel. The Brits were on a road trip and were looking for inexpensive digs.

"It's nice to have your own room," said Skinner, who stayed in one of the hostel's traditional multi-person rooms rather than a private room.  But, she said, "It's equally nice to chat and meet new people."

Accommodations: The economy rooms that house eight to 10 same-sex guests and the standard rooms that house six same-sex guests share hall bathrooms. There are also six- and 10-person rooms (same sex) with ensuite bathrooms and private rooms with bathrooms that house two, three or four guests.

Costs: About $40-$60 a night per person, but prices vary based on the season. The private rooms are about $140-$230 for the room, not per person.

Info:  Hostelling International, 1436 2nd St.; Santa Monica.; (310) 393-9913,

Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood; Los Feliz coming soon

PodShare in downtown Los Angeles.
PodShare in downtown Los Angeles. (Elvina Beck)

At the communal-living PodShare, guests can stay one night or indefinitely.

The goal is to provide affordable accommodations so travelers can enjoy the fruits of L.A., said owner Elvina Beck, who opened the first PodShare in Hollywood in 2012 and was joined a year later by Kera Package.

"Why do you need to spend $100 to $300 on a hotel to be by yourself?" Beck said.

Tiffany Wilson, 28, came to L.A. from Michigan to search for a job in TV production, she said. She stayed at a Motel 6 and paid $400 for four nights before switching to PodShare, where four nights cost about half that.

Wilson acknowledged she was a little worried about the clientele. "I thought it would be a whole bunch of weirdos," she said.

But she found that most of the people were involved in the arts, around her age and new to L.A.

Beck and Package provide plenty of information on the city, telling guests about the best coffee shops or how to get to the beach. They often invite guests to parties, dinner or other outings.

Each pod has a bed, TV, shelves and some storage space. The pods face one another.

One thing that's almost completely absent: privacy. The pods do not have walls, doors or curtains.

"Podestrians" can work, eat or hang out in an upstairs loft area.

Accommodations: The downtown PodShare has 18 pods; it has an open floor plan in which the pods face one another, a kitchen, a bathroom with two stalls and two showers, a common room with couches and gaming system.

Hollywood has two pods, a large communal work space that also has a projector and gaming system, a communal kitchen, a bathroom with one shower and one stall. Eight more pods are being added along with another stall and shower in the bathroom.

Los Feliz will have 12 pods as well as a kitchen, bathroom and eating area, but no other communal areas.

Costs: A pod costs $40 to $50 a night or $250 a week. The price includes basics such as bedding, utilities, Wi-Fi and toiletries besides some communal food, Netflix and access to a bicycle.

Info: PodShare Downtown, 100 S. Vignes St.; (213) 973-7741, Hollywood, 1617 Cosmo St. Los Feliz location to be announced.


The Downtowner is a more traditional accommodation but is still a budget option.
The Downtowner is a more traditional accommodation but is still a budget option. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Require a little more privacy or have a more traditional view of vacation accommodations? A motel might be for you, but even those can prove costly.

I couldn't stay at the Hollywood Downtowner Inn because it was booked (so reserve well in advance), but I did talk to guests and take a tour of the inn, where rooms can cost as little as $100 a night before taxes.

The inn, which is on Hollywood Boulevard, has a swimming pool and includes breakfast at Catch 56, a British-themed restaurant on the same block as the motel.

"We just want it to be a place where [guests] feel like they can go out, do their thing in a big city and come back and relax," said Shaila Mulji, the property manager.

Although the inn rarely has long-term guests and generally does not offer weekly or monthly rates, Mulji said those are case-by-case discussions and decisions.

Not all of the 33 rooms are identical; the furniture and decor vary. In some, you may find a bathtub and, in others, a shower.

Some rooms have two double beds; others have a king; a few of the suites have kitchenettes.

Rooms are gradually being upgraded with modern, space-efficient furniture, Mulji said.

Visiting the U.S. for the first time from Denmark, friends Line Enevddsen and Louise Skottee stayed at the motel in July after first trying a hostel.

Although they said the hostel was fun, they said they needed more quiet time. But they still needed to stick to their budget so ended up at the Downtowner.

What is one traveler's pro is another traveler's con — it ultimately comes down to what matters to you. The Hollywood Downtowner is the most expensive on the list, but it's still half the price of an average hotel. And if you're traveling as part of a couple or with children, it gives you the privacy that you may not be willing to forfeit.


Info: Hollywood Downtowner Inn, 5601 Hollywood Blvd., (323) 464-7191,



Twitter: @alexgoldennews