Los Angeles Coast Holds Hidden Hotel Gems

Just miles apart along the Los Angeles shoreline, The Belamar and Jamaica Bay Inn offer comfort and quiet away from the chain hotels.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

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There are hotels in Los Angeles that’ll cost you a couple grand per night. There are others in Southern California tied to theme parks or resorts that offer accommodations on an assembly line scale. And, of course, every international chain you can name has a foothold where the NFL has no footprint.

None of the above breeds appeal to the individual L.A. traveler looking to find quality, comfort and sophistication without needing to take out a second mortgage. On a recent run through Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to sample two joints that fit that bill perfectly. Each is tucked in along separate stretches of shoreline a few miles apart — and each offers comfort and atmosphere superior to most midrange or high end chain hotel in the city.

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First, The Belamar (both photos above) hides in a quiet, residential neighborhood off of busy Sepulveda Blvd. just south of LAX in the beachside bedroom community of Manhattan Beach. It’s presence near a main drag shouldn’t scare away customers as the hotel’s designers laid it out away from what is really a crosstown freeway with stop lights.

While small by Los Angeles standards, Belamar offers all of the decorative touches and courteous service of a more uppity downtown hotel. That service is a highlight of the property. From the valet handling the cars to the front desk staff, the folks making the hotel work are low key, helpful and welcoming — qualities you won’t always find in a Los Angeles property. 

The Belamar’s guest rooms are spacious and well-equipped, though the hotel has a vibe of a quality “base of operations” — a comfortable spot for travelers to operate from as they venture out into the city. It’s not resort-style accommodation where guests linger, but it’s a hotel they’ll be glad to return to in the evening.

Related: Pueblo Bonito Pacifica, Quivira Golf Club

The Jamaica Bay Inn (photos below) sits on more expensive real estate on the water in Marina del Rey. Its tiny bay location looks out on the yachts of L.A.’s rich and famous, while recreating the colonial architecture and cabana culture of the Caribbean. While the front entrance is bordered by busy L.A. streets, traffic and rival hotels, the back of the property feels more peaceful and natural — with pools, walkways and marina access standing by.

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The designers had the right idea as the majority of the hotel’s attractions, its restaurant and lounge space have a western exposure, providing magical Pacific sunsets and plenty of that warm glow unique to L.A. at Magic Hour – those precious minutes just before night falls on California.

In fact, if you pick the right time of day, and the right vista, you can forget you’re in one of the biggest cities on Earth. You might not be able to trick yourself into believing you’re sitting alongside Ian Fleming in Jamaica proper, but you’ll be able to enjoy a legitimate urban hideaway.

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As with Belamar, the Jamaica Inn is not designed to be a resort stay. It has creature comforts on hand, but the lack of a massive spa and such keep the room rates reachable. Regardless of the point of any traveler’s Los Angeles journey, both of these properties offer legitimate comfort, competent service and just enough class to elevate themselves above the chains.