For a bed indoors for cheap, your options near the beach run to youth hostels. The huge HI-Santa Monica (1436 2nd St., Santa Monica, 310/393-9913, www.hilosangeles.org, $29) offers 260 beds in a building constructed specifically to house the hostel. You’ll be right in the thick of downtown Santa Monica in a good neighborhood, within walking distance of the Santa Monica Pier, the Third Street Promenade, and the beach. Plenty of great, cheap restaurants cluster in the area, or you can make use of the hostel’s open kitchen.
This ritzy hostel offers tons of amenities for the price, including a computer room, game room, TV room, movie room, excursions, wheelchair access, sheets with the bed price, and even a complimentary continental breakfast every morning. If you prefer to find your own way around L.A., the local public transit system runs right outside the door.
The Venice Beach Cotel (25 Windward Ave., Venice Beach, 888/718-8287, www.venicebeachcotel.com, $24–77) claims to be “a hostel with hotel standards.” You can make your own judgments on its amenities, which include women’s-only and co-ed dorms with and without in-room bath, private rooms, and private rooms with baths. Rooms get maid service daily (a rarity in the hostelling world), and a computer room and kick-back lounge welcome guests and encourage them to socialize.
But the best part of the Cotel is undoubtedly its location on the Boardwalk right across from Muscle Beach. Fall out of your bunk and into the warm sands of Venice’s beach every morning. The fabulous restaurants of Washington Street are reached by an easy walk, and the canals sit just a block or two away. Book well in advance for summer.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition