What isn't attractive about the idea of visiting Hollywood? From the old school Tinseltown glamour to the modern cosmopolitan hustle and bustle of being in such a vibrant and culture-filled landscape, Los Angeles, and Hollywood in particular has something to lure any traveller. Even if the sound of visiting Hollywood Boulevard or Hollywood itself doesn't appeal to you, Los Angeles offers a plethora of hipster clubs, underground movie theatres and old-school viewings to entice you in.
Staying in Hollywood
As one of the busiest areas in the world, the hub of modern entertainment, finding somewhere relatively cheap or affordable can be difficult in a region that focuses around money. For around £98 a night - a price which might seem pricey yet it's surprisingly reasonable for this glamorous city - you can book a double room in the Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills Hotel. Less than a couple of miles from some of the biggest sites in the city, the hotel is home to a distinct Hollywood theme.
For those interested in filming locations, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel offers rooms for around £250 a night, along with plaques noting filming locations and famous sites. This hotel is famous for the scene in True Lies, where Arnold Schwarzenegger rides a horse into the elevator.
You can get the big screen experience at the Beverly Wilshere too - stay in room like the one that Richard Gere and Julia Roberts stayed in in Pretty Woman, for around £350 a night, or if you want the actual room they filmed those scenes in, be prepared to shell out a substantial £12,000 a night for a stay in the famous Presidential suite.
The Roosevelt Hotel has featured on many a cinema screen, hosted the first ever Academy Awards ceremony, featured in films like Spielberg's 'Catch Me If You Can', starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Mighty Joe Young, Beverly Hills Cop II and The Fabulous Baker Boys. Rooms go from about £189 a night depending on your stay and your room. Suites like the 'Marilyn' go for upwards of £900 a night.
If you're looking for places to stay on a budget, look into downtown Hollywood or the suburbs of the area. Motels can offer a twin room for around $50 (£29) a night, and if you're willing to share a dorm ($30/£18) with other budget visitors, you can save even more.
How do I get from A to B in Hollywood?
The main areas of Hollywood are walkable, and most people can walk the length of places like Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard (these are the main east to west streets of central Hollywood) or Melrose Avenue. However, some people prefer to drive, and as most people in Los Angeles drive, why not?
Fares from Sunset Boulevard to Melrose Avenue could range from $11 (£6) to $28 (£16) dependent on the cab company, traffic and whether or not you seem like the type of tourist who can be exploited. Getting a taxi from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the end of Wilshere Avenue can cost you a huge $59 (£34.49) if you're charged heavily for your journey.
Definitely not recommended. Parking in Los Angeles in general is a nightmare unless you're visiting a mall or somewhere with a large amount of space specifically designated to parking. That, and the majority of the time you're driving you'll be passed by pedestrians who will be getting to places a lot quicker than you.
Hollywood's location is central to most other popular attractions. The red metro line subways stations at Hollywood+Vine and Hollywood+Highland can connect you across the majority of town. If you're coming from Orange County or Disneyland, you can get to Hollywood by taking the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner or the Orange County Line on Metrolink to get to Los Angeles Union Station, then transfer onto the red line metro.
To really enjoy the film star treatment, rent a limousine and treat yourself to a blacked-out window tour of Hollywood. LA Travel tours offer limousine rentals from $160 an hour (£93), and you want a black out SUV (a la Kardashian), then it's a little more at $180 (£105) an hour. A Cadillac Escalade limousine is the equivalent of £150 an hour, but if you really want to splash out on style, why not go all out with a Hummer limousine at a modest £175.
What about food?
Whether you're sticking to your budget or whether you fancy splashing out on the restaurants that your favourite film stars dine at, Hollywood has something for everyone and all tastes.
For that fast-food hit: In 'n' Out
Famous across the pond for being that little bit better than McDonalds, In 'n' Out provides celebrities and mortals alike with a quick hit of carbs when you need them most. This is also a great place to eat if you're on a budget - as with all fast food restaurants, you can get a filling meal for as cheap as you like. Here, burgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes the size of your arm and cold iced coke is really cheap: a meal costs around $6 (£3.50) and of course, because it's American - everything is super sized.
For celeb-spotting: Pinkberry, Sunset Blvd/Nobu
Pinkberry is a fast-food type of eatery, offering various types of frozen yoghurt and great toppings (a favourite with Los Angeles residents - less calories but all of the satisfaction of indulging in ice cream). Try the S'more special (a combination of marshmallow cré¨me, chocolate chips, chocolate sauce and graham cracker on top of chocolate hazelnut yoghurt) or order yourself a refreshingly fruity smoothie.
Nobu is the type of restaurant that is photographed in every celebrity magazine, blog and tabloid. The world's most well-known and famous Japanese gourmet restaurant, you should try the head chef's signature dish, black cod in miso sauce - salty but also fruity. The Nobu restaurant chain was opening in partnership between Robert DeNiro and award-winning Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa, so you're bound to find plenty of celebrities and film stars inside as they enjoy 5* cuisine. Be prepared for the price tag, though!
For a the best breakfast in Hollywood:
With a breakfast menu served all day that helps treat everyone from the morning early-birds to the mid-afternoon hungover, the Griddle Café on Sunset Boulevard offers everything from fresh buttermilk pancakes the size of your head (a local favourite) to intoxicating coconut, pecan, oat and butterscotch chip-filled pancakes topped with real whipped cream and powdered sugar, three egg omelettes and tacos overflowing with filling. For one huge plate full of food, expect to pay the equivalent of £12 - not bad.
What entertainment is there in Hollywood?
If you're hoping to avoid the cliché trips to places like the Hollywood Walk of Fame (it's best to find out what stars you want to visit and where they're located - otherwise you'll be stranded looking under other people's feet for the entire mile-long stretch of the popular and busy walkway), the Hollywood sign (you're not even allowed close to the sign for fears of vandalism, you can still get pretty close, and it gives you a good view of the city below, but it doesn't live up to the hype), then get out and about and have a look at some of these places:
The Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard hosts a wide range of performances from ballet, to comedy, to live plays - as well as playing host to the Academy Awards. Check the website for upcoming events and book your tickets in advance - you'll want a good seat for these world-class acts. The Hollywood Bowl in North Hollywood is similar - a famous outdoor theatre that plays host to philharmonic orchestras or performances and concerts by other famous faces you're likely to recognize. Parking is a nightmare, so we recommend taking the $5 shuttle bus.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery on the Santa Monica Boulevard hosts movie screenings every Saturday at 7pm from May to September. The Cinespia film society screens creepy older movies such as The Shining and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Most proceeds go towards the cemetery restoration. Crowds can also be use so arrive early before the gates open if you want a good viewing point.
It's relatively easy to get tickets to see some of your favourite TV shows being filmed. Look online for opportunities to go along to a studio and be one of a couple of hundred to see that episode being filmed live. Look at the Audiences Unlimited website to be a part of a TV Studio audience, or get tickets for chat shows like the Late Late show or Jimmy Kimmel Live through One Iota. Or, be one better and try and get a part as an extra in the background of a shot. Whilst the movie or it's film company won't pay you - the opportunity is priceless. They schedule your day in advance.
Alternatively, you can always try and find a shoot to watch - there's hundreds of things being filmed in LA on a monthly basis, so finding a set for someone's big shot isn't hard. Look for a single 8.5" x 11" piece of paper, usually coloured, taped to a sign or post. Normally it has one word printed on it in large letters, right side up and upside down with an arrow in-between. Back in the days when they used to shoot Malcolm in the Middle, it would just say 'Middle'. The signs are put up for the cameramen and crew, but once you know what you're looking for they're pretty easy to spot. It takes a few hours on end to set up for even the shortest filming session, and the actual filming won't happen until everything is ready.
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