LA is so big that the area in which you stay will have a big impact on your travel plans. Downtown, the historic heart of the city, has both chic hotels and basic dives, but getting to the coast from here can be a hassle; Hollywood, West LA and West Hollywood are safe, relatively central options for seeing the whole city, while Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu are predominantly mid-to-upper-range territory, perfect for soaking up the beach culture but a long way from the cultural attractions inland. It’s only worth staying in Orange County, thirty miles southeast of Downtown, if you’re aiming for Disneyland or are travelling along the coast.
Motels and the bottom-end hotels start at about $75 for a double, but many are situated in seedy or out-of-the-way areas; any decent motel or hotel will cost at least $90. B&Bs are still uncommon in central LA, and tend to be quite expensive, often fully booked, and sited in out-of-the-way places. A handful of hostels are dotted all over the city, many in good locations, though at some stays are limited to a few nights and at others a nonstop party atmosphere prevails.