Stay near the energetic North Park neighborhood at the Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club, which used to be a celebrity crash pad for the likes of Bob Hope and Ava Gardner when it opened in the forties. Today, the hotel’s central, not-quite-Olympic-size pool is the summertime hipster hang, hosting food-truck-catered daytime pool parties with live bands. Despite an ongoing $4 million renovation, accommodations are fairly basic, but the poolside rooms remain the most coveted.
Get a little European flair at La Pensione (from $99), a modest spot that gives you access to the walkable Little Italy arts district. The hotel is in the midst of a $2 million makeover, and 15 of its 68 compact rooms now feature ostrich leather headboards, Italian linens, and rain showerheads. Ask for an “Argento Collection” room, preferably #317 or #320: They have the best balconies for sipping wine and people-watching.
Go nostalgic at the Pearl Hotel (from $79), whose owners took a rundown motor lodge and transformed it into a paragon of mid-century cool in 2007. Inside, you’ll find shag rugs in the lounge, vintage table lamps in the guestrooms, and mod furniture throughout. Wednesday night movies around the pool are a favorite among locals.