January 1, 2018

Favorite Business Hotels for Southern California Professionals

Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, USA
A survey of some of the best places to stay when doing business in Southern California!

Some like it. Some hate it. It can be lux and wonderful, or fast and furious. But we all do it—business travel!

Each year, more than 40 million visitors come to the greater Los Angeles area. San Diego gets more than 10 million overnighters. And while the vast majority of visitors are tourists, Southern California is one of those areas that enjoys a tremendous amount of business travel as well. San Diego is one a destination that gets “combo” travelers, business travelers who bring the family to enjoy the city (or conversely tourists who book a day or two of business while they are here).

Vacation travel is about getting to a city, seeing and experiencing things in that city, and enjoying your trip. Business travel is a bit different, though, then vacation travel. Business travel has more to do with location, convenience, and ease of work. We all love lux business travel, but it’s not always possible. Business travelers are often restricted by time, location, or budget.

In Southern California, location is arguably the first decision. If you fly into John Wayne in Orange County and have to make it in 90 minutes to the San Fernando Valley, you’ll be hating life as you sit on the infamous 405 freeway. And while LAX and Anaheim may not be your cup of tea for hotels, sometimes a flight or convention dictates there is no better area to stay.

When we reached out to professionals around Southern California to offer suggestions, we knew that each area was unique and serving a different travel purpose. In other words, what a traveler might like in a hotel in San Diego could be different from what he or she wants in a downtown hotel.

There are common traits to most business traveler’s desires in hotels. First, rooms must be clean, convenient, and comfortable. Whether it’s for the night or for a week, business people need to adjust to the locale quickly. There’s no better way to start than by opening a door to a hotel room and feeling good about it. WiFi is a must, and while $16.95 a day won’t kill us, it’s an irritation when there’s free WiFi all around. Food should be good or close, or both. In addition to convenient, you have to have a place you can meet at or grab a meal with a client or co-worker. If you’re wining and dining, assume you are leaving the hotel. But for meetings, you need something on site or very close. And there must be some place or things to do to unwind…pool, spa, bar, lounge, etc.

With that in mind, we present our list of business-friendly hotels for Southern California professionals!

Millennium Biltmore

AREA: Downtown Los Angeles

VIBE: The Biltmore is a Los Angeles landmark. It’s old L.A. at its finest. If you’re doing business downtown, this puts you right in the thick of it. Great restaurants, Metro stations, theaters, Convention Center, and Staples Center are just a short walk or Uber away.

STAY HERE FOR: Great place for meetings, big and small. Downtown renaissance is happening all around with great restaurants, bars and taverns nearby. There is great atmosphere here, something generally lacking in Los Angeles properties. This hotel is old-school class. Not for those wanting the “latest and greatest,” but rather a charming old hotel and Hollywood grandeur.

ALSO NEARBY: The JW Marriott at LA Live, the Ritz Carlton, and the Westin Bonaventure are three great options in downtown.


Ojai Valley Inn

AREA: Okay, it’s not really “in town” but the Ojai Valley Inn is one of the most used “out of town” hotels for people in Los Angeles. It’s close enough to go for the day, yet perfect to go for the weekend as well.

VIBE: Calm, relaxed, country club atmosphere. Ojai Valley is green and gorgeous. Golf, tennis, spa, cycling, horseback riding, and even watersports are all close by. Call it work, but a retreat or seminar here is as much about relaxing as anything else.

STAY HERE FOR: Get away, without going to far. Great service, excellent food, and easy-going style

ALSO NEARBY: The Fess Parker Inn (Santa Barbara), Embassy Suites Mandalay Bay (Ventura)


Westlake Village Inn

AREA: Westlake Village, North of San Fernando Valley.

VIBE: This property is a great option for doing business in the northern part of the city. It’s got nice rooms, great grounds, and very convenient right off the 101 freeway. It’s a family-owned property that offers a personal touch. Also, Stonehaus and Boogies are two destination eateries/hangouts right on the property.

STAY HERE FOR: It’s easy and comfortable here. We stayed there, put up clients there, had meetings there, and held press conferences there. Comfortable enough for several nights, meetings, or a North Los Angeles basecamp.

ALSO NEARBY: Four Seasons Westlake Village Spa


Luxe Sunset Boulevard

AREA: This hotel is right off the busy 405 at a geographically strategic spot between the coast, Hollywood, and the Valley.

VIBE: The Luxe has kind of a Hollywood nouveau riche feel. The good news is that it’s away from some of the hubbub, which is good for business travelers. Unfortunately, it’s also the biggest drawback, as there is nothing within walking distance.

STAY HERE FOR: Central West L.A. location, great service, and near lots of things 9beach, Getty Center, Westwood, Century City, and LAX (via 405).

ALSO NEARBY: Look to classic Beverly Hills properties like the Beverly Hills, the Beverly Hilton, the Four Seasons, etc., or the Santa Monica hotels like Lowes and Shutters.


Hilton Universal

AREA: This hotel is located in the east part of the San Fernando Valley, on the hill across the street from Universal Studios.

VIBE: Some question this choice…it’s more touristy, because of the theme park…not new…and not overly lux. That said, it’s another strategic choice. If you are doing business in Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, downtown, Hollywood, the Valley, or Santa Clarita, it’s a great choice.

STAY HERE FOR: Close to Toluca Lake and North Hollywood (NoHo), the two east valley hipster hangouts. Lots of great bars, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Central to most of the studios like Universal, NBC, Disney, and Dreamworks, or if you need to be close to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

ALSO NEARBY: Sheraton Universal, Sportsmans Lodge, and all of the Hollywood hotels are options.


Loews Santa Monica Beach

AREA: Santa Monica (beach)

VIBE: Loews is a quintessential new Santa Monica hotel. Thirty years ago, hotels in Santa Monica were dive motels or airline crew hangouts. Since then, Santa Monica has had a rebirth as one of the area’s hottest hotel areas. Great hotels abound, close to the beach, restaurants, and shopping.

STAY HERE FOR: Venice Beach and the iconic Santa Monica Pier are right there, literally. American Film Market headquarters at this hotel, and it’s great for meals, a stay, or drinks by the beach.

ALSO NEARBY: Tons of options, but consider Shutters, Oceana, and Huntley Santa Monica.


The Langham Huntington

AREA: Pasadena, San Marino

VIBE: This is old L.A. wealth. Originally the Huntington, then the Ritz Carlton, it’s a flavor of elegance not found easily in Los Angeles. This is in the northeast end of town, near the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade. Wonderful grounds, restaurants, and service.

STAY HERE FOR: Lots of longstanding business are HQ’d nearby. Also close to downtown. This hotel has unmatched elegance, and is easy to get comfortable in. Lots of Pasadena restaurants and shopping nearby. And don’t miss their $100 martini!

ALSO NEARBY: Lots of chain hotels nearby, but nothing like The Langham.


Embassy Suites by Hilton LAX North


VIBE: The truth is, no one likes to stay near the airport, but often we must. If you have a quick meeting, or and early/late flight, you have to stay close. A hotel 10 miles away could be and hour and a half in bad traffic. LAX is busy, and right on the border of questionable neighborhood. Best bet is drop down the hill to Play Vista and Marina del Rey for meals to the north, or Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches to the south.

STAY HERE FOR: Get in, have a meeting, and get out. Embassy Suites offers clean rooms, good value, free continental breakfasts, drinks in the evening, fitness center, and pool.

ALSO NEARBY: Tons of options near the airport. Choose a Hilton, Westin, or Marriott if you want the miles, or head further away to get out of the airport zone.


Monarch Beach Resort

AREA: Orange Country beach area

VIBE: Okay, there are hotels near John Wayne Airport and the business district off the 405, but if you’re in the OC, head to the water. Monarch Beach Resort is stunning. On the hills overlooking the ocean, it feels more like a vacation resort or country club, yet it’s home to board meetings, conventions and retreats all the time. Food is excellent. Views are spectacular. Book near a weekend and enjoy a round or two of golf and a couple of days off

STAY HERE FOR: Views of the Pacific, great weather, luxury accommodations, and excellent service.

ALSO NEARBY: Resort at Pelican Hill, Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, or Balboa Ray Resort.


Marriott Anaheim

AREA: Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center

VIBE: So this area is all about Disneyland and conventions. It’s busy, active, and touristy. But a ton of business happens in the area. Fast food abounds, and while there are good meals to be had, you need to look past the masses seeking quick meals while visiting the Magic Kingdom.

STAY HERE FOR: A decent hotel, walking distance to the hotel and theme park. Honestly, flip a coin between this and Hyatt across the street. Both are right up the street from the Convention Center. The Marriott gets the nod for dealing with crowds better. Able to house meetings, promo suites, seminars, etc. Great hotels are hard to find nearby, so settle for really good instead. This is a “go to” for many local business people staying down there for a day or two.

ALSO NEARBY: If Marriott is full, go to the Hilton across the street. Or, pretty much every hotel and motel chain ever imagined.


Marriott Marquis San Diego

AREA: This is another city area you wouldn’t be caught dead in 25 years ago, but is now the hub of downtown. Waterfront walk, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment all close by.

VIBE: Downtown San Diego is now a very cool and hip zone. Lots to do, lots of places to have drinks, hangout, and hop around to when between meetings or events. Cars are not necessary, with tons nearby within walking (or Uber) distance.

STAY HERE FOR: If you need to be downtown, near the city center, Coronado, and airport. Also near Balboa Park, and freeway close if you’re heading north or east.

ALSO NEARBY: Manchester Grand Hyatt, Hotel Del Coronado, or the Patani or Lodge if you want to stay a little north in Torrey Pines.


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About the Author

Brian Hemsworth
Brian Hemsworth is the president of Newman Grace Inc., a Los Angeles-based marketing and brand consulting firm. He is also a member of the adjunct faculty of Pepperdine University, and has published more than 100 articles on business, marketing, technology, travel and fitness. Visit Newman Grace Inc. or to learn more about Brian and his professional services. Read more about Brian Hemsworth...



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