Los Angeles: Using Points At Big Chain Tourist Hotels – Part 1

Los Angeles is a city I know reasonably well after having lived there for over 5 years. It’s a city for which I have great fondness and one that I enjoy returning to whenever I get the chance. To me LA is a misunderstood city and one that doesn’t get the credit it deserves because it’s been incorrectly pigeonholed as fake and soulless for so many years. To the lazy and unimaginative LA may well not appeal…but, if you’re prepared to make an effort, it can be a fantastic place to visit.

But there is one issue with Los Angeles that irritates me quite a bit…more so now that I have to return as a visitor rather than a resident – there’s a serious lack of options from a miles & points perspective. Sure, if you’re happy to stay at the airport you’re well covered and if you’re going to be based in downtown you have a few options too….but no one visiting LA for a vacation is likely to be based in either of those two locations.

Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and, to a lesser degree, Santa Monica are probably the main places vacationers to Los Angeles gravitate to….and there really isn’t that much choice for those wanting to use their points balances.

The main hotel chains that attract the miles & points enthusiasts are as follows (in no particular order):

  • Marriott
  • IHG
  • Hilton
  • Hyatt
  • Starwood
  • Carlson Rezidor

And the representation of those hotel chains in the popular areas of Los Angeles is pretty poor.

In this part (of the 2-part series) I take a look at the first three names on that list – what do they offer a vacationer looking to spend his/her points balance on a vacation visiting Los Angeles?

Marriott

While the Marriott group offer a Ritz-Carlton and a JW Marriott in Downtown LA and a Marriott and a Renaissance at LAX, its offerings in other areas aren’t exactly great.

Hollywood: No properties at all.

What is now the Loews Hollywood Hotel was, for a long time, the Renaissance Hollywood. But that changed hands in 2012 and Hollywood has been a Marriott-free zone ever since.

West Hollywood: No properties at all.

The good news is that there’s an Edition Hotel and Residences on the way….but not until 2018. This, once open, will be a very welcome addition to the area and, with a good location on Sunset Blvd (corner of Sunset and Doheny), should be a nice option for visitors. Unfortunately the site still looks like this:

marriott-edition-hotel-siteMarriott Edition Hotel & Residences West Hollywood (building site)

Beverly Hills: 1 x Full-Service Marriott and 1 x Residence Inn

When most people think of Beverly Hills they think of signs like this….

beverly-hill-sign

…and Rodeo Drive which looks like this….

rodeo-drive-beverly-hills

But, if you were hoping to step out of the door of the Beverly Hills Marriott and see the glamor of Beverly Hills, you’d be disappointed…..Rodeo Drive is a 30 minute walk away and the area the hotel sits in, while perfectly ok, isn’t near anything vaguely interesting for someone on vacation.

Santa Monica: 1 x JW Marriott

In fairness to Marriott they do have one of their top-end brand hotels in Santa Monica – the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot. But that’s where the good news ends.

When a hotel in one of your top-end brands is categorised as only the 20th best hotel in Santa Monica (out of just 34 hotels!)….Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 18.46.52

….you know you don’t have much to brag about!

I don’t know about you but I’m not inclined to spend 45,000 points or $450+/night at a hotel that performs that badly on Tripadvisor.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 18.48.58

IHG Hotels

Hollywood: 1 x Holiday Inn Express

Ok, so IHG has a hotel in Hollywood (I can’t take that away from them) but, while the location is ok for those who want to visit the Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theatre and other such attractions, the property is on one of the business streets in LA (North Highland Avenue) which leads to the Hollywood Bowl and the ever-busy 101 freeway.

Here a screenshot of the “Street View” from Google:

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 19.00.47

Not exactly glamorous is it?!

Not only isn’t it glamorous but it’s also not cheap. Award nights cost 35,000 IHG Rewards Points and, during the busier months, pre-tax prices often exceed $250/night…..for a Holiday In Express!

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 18.57.17

When you consider that, for 15,000 points more you can get any InterContinental in the world, this doesn’t seem like a particularly good use of IHG Rewards points.

West Hollywood: No properties at all.

There’s not really much more to say about this….if you’re trying to use IHG Rewards Points you’re not going to find anything in West Hollywood.

Beverly Hills: No properties at all.

IHG does have an InterContinental and a Holiday Inn Express in Century City (which is next door to Beverly Hills) but, unless you’re interested in the Westfield Mall, there is absolutely nothing in the area for a vacationer to do or see….everything is a car journey away and, outside of mall food, you have very limited dining options in the area.

Santa Monica: No properties at all.

If you’re an IHG loyalist there isn’t exactly a lot of you to choose from if you’re planning on vacationing in Los Angeles. The InterContinental in Century City is probably your best bet but, considering its somewhat indifferent location, I’d be very reluctant to part with 50,000 IHG Rewards Points per night.

Hilton

Hollywood: 1 x Hilton Garden Inn

With a location right next door to IHG’s Holiday Inn Express I’m hardly likely to sing the praises of this property – even the Hilton website shows the traffic flying by!

Hotel Exterior

As I said with the Holiday Inn Express in Hollywood, the location isn’t bad for those who want to see the tourist sights on Hollywood Boulevard but, as a vacation hotel it’s hardly enticing.

Prices are often north of $250 (before taxes) so, at 50,000 Hilton HHonors points per night, there may be some value to be had if you’re set on visiting Hollywood and if you have a lot of HHonors points. But do you really want to spend your hard-earned Hilton HHonors points on a Hilton Garden Inn on a major road less than half a mile from a major freeway?

West Hollywood: No properties

Beverly Hills: 1 x Hilton

The Beverly Hilton is, unsurprisingly, in Beverly Hills and within walking distance of Rodeo Drive and the tall palm tree-lined roads made famous by so many movies.

If you’re happy with a walk into the center of Beverly Hills and with a drive everywhere else then this may not be a bad choice if you’re looking to spend your Hilton HHonors points. In fairness, there’s no area in LA that doesn’t require you to drive if you want to see all the sights on offer so the Beverly Hilton isn’t a bad choice at all (location-wise).

beverly-hilton

Whether or not the property is worth the 60,000 Hilton HHonors points (cost for a randomly selected date in the summer) will completely depend on how many points you have to spend and how much the room will cost. You should be able to get 0.6 – 0.7 cents per point at this property so, as I value Hilton HHonors points at around 0.5 cents, that’s not that bad of a deal.

Santa Monica: No properties at all.

Bottom Line

In this part I’ve taken a look at three of the largest hotel chains in the world and, between them, they really don’t have much to offer. Marriott has a lot of properties in the Los Angeles area but most are either in locations someone on vacation simply wouldn’t be interested in staying (unless they had to!) or, as in the case of the JW Marriott, are too expensive for what they are.

IHG really doesn’t have much to entice the points collector at all. Considering where else you can stay for 50,000 IHG Rewards points I wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to spend my points in Century City.

Hilton has the Beverly Hilton…and that’s about it. Its location is ok if not fantastic and, by Hilton standards, it doesn’t cost that many points…so this seems to be the best of a bad lot of options from this group of hotels.

In the next and final part of this 2-part series I’ll take a look at what Hyatt, Starwood and Carlson Rezidor have to offer.