Stay the Night: Venice Suites, California

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A 1920s building where Marilyn Monroe once lived provides Kirsty Hathaway with a prime spot for Venice people-watching

Los Angeles can be a difficult city to get to grips with. It's vast, spread out and you're stuck without a car. That's where Venice Suites come in. These unpretentious and affordable apartments are the best way to experience Venice, LA's anomalous seaside neighbourhood

Unlike the urban sprawl that largely characterises Los Angeles, Venice is a community to which artists, writers and musicians flock to set up home, where independent coffee shops, bars, restaurants and boutiques line the streets. It's vibrant, fun and above all, liveable.

Sitting on prime real estate on Venice Boardwalk, Venice Suites comes with uninterrupted views of the vast expanse of Venice Beach. The 1920s building retains its historical character outside, with simple, colourful interiors. It is a gem of a find, not to mention the best spot in this part of LA for people-watching.

The rooms

Each of the 32 studios and one-bedroom suites comes with a fully fitted kitchen, which is ideal for solo travellers and families. The one-bedroom options at the front of the building are all corner suites with panoramic beachfront views. The higher up you the building you go, the lighter and brighter the rooms and better the views. Marilyn Monroe used to live in unit 42 on the top floor, the room I called home during my stay.

The decor is clean and simple with colour schemes inspired by the varying shades of the Pacific Ocean and beachfront outside. The sunlight streams in through the windows and bounces off violet blues, sea greens, and tepid yellows.

There's cable TV in the sitting room and bedroom, plus free speedy Wi-Fi throughout the building. In-room guides – courtesy of owner and foodie Carl Lambert – recommend not only the best places to eat in town but those that will deliver straight to your door. It also lists local supermarkets, gyms, pharmacies, wine shops, cabs and so on. Who needs a concierge when you have Carl's secret black book to hand?

Writers and artists favour Venice Suites for longer stays, making for  interesting encounters and spontaneous barbecues up on the roof terrace. And even when they're not present, you can sit up there soaking up the Californian sun or supping sundowners as the sun sets dramatically behind the Pacific.

Out and about

Get the most out of this affluent seaside neighbourhood with Jonathan of Vintage Venice Tours (001 424 999 8687;; tours from $25/£17 for two hours), who will point out everything from where Charlie Chaplin made his first film appearance to where The Doors played their first session together. Venice is also where the Beat writers called home in the 1950s and has been the backdrop to movies including Grease, White Men Can't Jump and American History X.

Unlike the rest of LA, the mode of transport here is the bicycle, so pick one up at Perry's Café (001 310 939 0000;; $40/£27 per day). The beachside bike path goes all the way from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach and is the most idyllic way to see other local beaches including Manhattan and Hermosa (

Surfing goes hand in hand with the local culture and Venice, with its sand break, is ideal for learners. Peter Paris is the man for the job (001 310 428 9870;; lessons from $80/£53).

Food and drink

For a post-sunset glass of wine, there's no better place in town than Venice Beach Wines (529 Rose Avenue; 001 310 606 2529;, simply clad in wood and lit by dripping candles.

Situated on Abbot Kinney Boulevard – cited by US GQ as the "coolest block in the States" – Gjelina (1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd; 001 310 450 1429; draws foodies and A-listers from all over Los Angeles. Worn wooden-clad walls, vintage iron chairs and a small luscious garden provide the setting for a well‑thought-out pizza menu. Note that this is serious pizza, with interesting flavour combinations – no substitutes or changes allowed. Try squash blossom, courgette, cherry tomato, burrata and parmesan for $15 (£10).

The Tasting Kitchen (633 Abbot Kinney Blvd; 001 310 392 6644; is half-wine bar, half-restaurant and is the best spot for a weekend brunch. The restaurant is built around a 90-year-old olive tree and has exposed wooden beams; tuck into short rib hash with baked egg and gremolata for $18 (£12).

The essentials

Venice Suites, 417 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, California (001 310 566 5224; Studio suites start at $154 (£103), self catered.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Recruitment Consultant (Trainee), Finchley Central, London

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor