When I booked the hotels for the California trip that I took in April, I really struggled with picking one for Los Angeles because of the sheer size of the city. We returned the car to the rental place one day after we arrived in LA, so it needed to be somewhere with good public transport links. I decided to just book the Highland Gardens Hotel in Hollywood (which I would highly recommend), because I figured that Hollywood would be a good base for sightseeing, despite the negative things that I had heard about it.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that Hollywood is ‘dodgy’, ‘a shithole’ and other varying degrees of those words before I went there, then I’d at least have had enough to buy myself a fancy meal. Honestly, I think that people exaggerate how bad Hollywood is. Yes, there are some very dodgy people hanging around. Yes, there are countless tacky shops. Yes, it’s full of tourists.
But, hear me out, Hollywood also has something about it that makes me love it. You can see traces of the old times, when it was still glamorous, in the architecture of the buildings and the crazy but charming people who peruse the streets. It’s full of nostalgia, and not in a bad way; walking down some parts of Sunset Boulevard made me feel like I had been transported back to an idealised version of the 60s (particularly the Cinerama Dome).
As for the tourists, I don’t see why going somewhere that they can connect with their favourite artists is a bad thing – visiting the Walk of Fame star, movie set, or visiting some sort of memorabilia that is associated with someone who they look up to is probably the closest connection that they’ll get to that person. I always thought that Hollywood, more as a state of mind rather than a place, was about dreaming big – so why are we looking down on these tourists for doing exactly that?
Concerning the shady people giving out their CD’s, begging for money, dressing up as movie characters (very badly, may I add) or just generally hanging around the streets – they’re just trying to make a living, even if it is in an unconventional way. And I didn’t meet one of these people who wasn’t absolutely polite when I responded to whatever they were offering with a simple “No, thank you.”.
So, “No, thank you.”, to the idea that Hollywood is somewhere that should be completely avoided on any trip to Los Angeles. I think if you visit with an open mind, and look for the beauty in it, then you can have a great experience in Hollywood – you’ll certainly see the sights that you were expecting to see, and a whole lot more too.