Just half a block back from one of Los Angeles' most iconic destinations, Venice Beach. It's a place that contains LA in a nutshell – a multicultural mix of shirtless, muscle-bound men, rollerblading, bikini-clad women, surfers, skateboarders, pot-smoking hippies and many more. There's a wide mix of shops and eateries from the tacky souvenir stores and tattoo parlours along the boardwalk through to fine-dining restaurants and high fashion.
Hotel Erwin is a large building, compared to most in the area, with 119 rooms and suites as well as large meeting/reception space called "Larry's Loft". The lobby is a compact, unassuming space that can get a little crowded with guests checking in and out and others waiting to take the lift up to the popular rooftop bar. There's no gym or pool on site but the hotel offers complimentary access to Gold's Gym on Venice Beach.
My room is huge – essentially a fully operational apartment. The living area features plenty of open space with a couch, armchair, desk, dining table and kitchenette. The colourful carpets and curtains give the room a beach house feel perfect for the location. The bedroom is also a good size with a second TV and king-sized bed. An odd design feature is entering the bedroom through the bathroom, with the toilet and shower off to a separate small room of their own on the side. The kitchenette features a sink, bar fridge and a cupboard containing large bottles of spirits (no mini bottles here). There's no stove, but there is a microwave. Despite its proximity to the beach there's little noise coming up from the street. My small balcony gives me a southward view with the ocean visible, albeit at an angle.
The two dining options are quite different. On the ground floor, Barlo's does classic American breakfast fare based around eggs and meats prepared in various ways. The diner is also open for lunch and dinner with burgers, steak and several smaller plates on offer such as poutine and lamb sliders. Meanwhile, the High Rooftop Lounge offers some of the best views in Venice Beach and is the perfect spot to indulge in a cocktail while watching the sun set on the Pacific. The bar also does small dishes such as fish tacos or nachos with crab dip that lend themselves to sharing. It's a popular spot so be sure to book a space in advance.
The famous Venice Beach is right on your doorstep and here you can take a dip in the ocean, watch the muscle-bound gym junkies working out at the outdoor gym or see talented skateboarders doing their thing at the beachfront skate park. Rent a bike and take the short ride down to Santa Monica Pier, home to a classic amusement park featuring a ferris wheel and rollercoaster. Nearby is Santa Monica Place, an open-air shopping centre featuring plenty of the top designer brands of both the expensive and not-so-expensive variety.
If you want to experience LA's most famous beach in all its glory then this is the place to do it. The large, apartment-style rooms lend themselves to a longer stay than just a night or two.
Rooms at Hotel Erwin start from $299 per night. 1697 Pacific Avenue, Venice, California. See www.hotelerwin.com
The High Rooftop Lounge is worth visiting even if you're not staying at the hotel.
The decor is pretty basic.
The writer stayed as a guest of Hotel Erwin.