By Anne Taylor Hartzell, on February 25, 2014

Boutique hotels in SoCal

If you have read my posts on Expedia Viewfinder or HipTravelMama before, you know that I love a beautifully designed hotel room. More often than not, my favorite properties fall into the category of luxury hotels. But make no mistake: In my book, a hotel with personality wins over pomp and circumstance every time. Stylish hotels are much more than the finest thread sheets and five-star butler services. These properties are about attention to the little details, about carefully creating a palette of colors, fabrics, and furnishings that create an experience for guests. This is where many boutique hotels excel. The Los Angeles area is booming with boutique hotels big on personality and fun. From hipster hangouts to surf-inspired boutique hotels, here are four Southern California hotels that pack a lot of personality into a price tag that fits your style and budget.

Hotel Erwin, Venice Beach

The Hotel Erwin‘s tagline, “Expressive. Rebellious. Adventurous,” gives you a peek at the personality of this 116-room boutique hotel.  Just steps from the Venice boardwalk, the hotel has modern, eclectic design and bright furnishings infused with surfer and skater chic, making it a fun and eclectic home base from which to experience the area. We have our eye on the fun Dog suite and it’s modern outdoor patio, perfect for California sunset-watching. Hotel Erwin also has the highest rooftop lounge in Venice Beach. With rates starting at $150 a night, it is also very hip on the wallet for the budget-conscious traveler.

Nights by the fire at The Shorebreak Hotel

Palihotel Melrose, Los Angeles

Don’t you just love super small hotels that ooze personality? Located in West Hollywood, the Palihotel Melrose has just 32 rooms and blends modern elements with bohemian-rustic style–all in the heart of some serious shopping. The Palihotel has infused eclectic details into everything from the furnishings to the lighting and very deliberate use of common areas. Palihotel Melrose prides itself on catering to the “modern urban explorer,” and is a short jaunt to The Grove, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Center and the Sunset strip.

ACE Hotel Downtown Los Angeles

ACE Hotels are renowned for their fun, hipster vibe and the ACE Hotel Downtown Los Angeles puts you smack in the middle of the downtown L.A. neighborhood in retro Los Angeles style. The hotel opened in 2013 in in the United Artists Theater building, a historic icon built in 1927 for the Maverick Film Studio. Rooms come in small, medium, and large and are modest but modernly styled. The hotel’s restaurant, LA Chapter, offers locally sourced vegetables and seafood. You also can also sip a neat American whiskey poolside on the rooftop overlooking downtown. With rates starting at $200 a night, the ACE Hotel Downtown Los Angeles fits any size of travel budget.

Viewfinder tip: Before booking a boutique hotel, always make sure you check traveler reviews to make sure the hotel lives up to its hype.

The Shorebreak Hotel, Huntington Beach

We spent a night at The Shorebreak Hotel, a Joie de Vivre property in downtown Huntington Beach, California, last summer during the US Surf Open. One night was not enough. I obsessively took photos of the retro surf décor, modern furniture, and sunset view from our room. We also explored from the hotel; the Shorebreak is centrally located for easy walks to the beach, the Huntington Beach Surf Museum, and some fabulous vintage shopping. We rented bikes and took a long family bike ride down the boardwalk, stopping to play in the surf before heading back to the hotel for dinner at the on-site restaurant, Zimzala. At night, we took advantage of the Shorebreak Hotel’s center courtyard and beautiful gathering spaces to snuggle up together, take in the warm California night air, and sip a few glasses of wine around the blazing fire pits.

What sorts of amenities do you look for in a boutique hotel?