Stay: The Hotel Royal
Located At: 431 E Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802
Stay Here For: Central downtown location, historic charm, cozy apartment-style rooms, and free bikes
I was asked to write a feature in the Long Beach Home & Living Magazine about this hotel for Long Beach Architecture Week, so I figured I’d write a review on my blog as well! A huge thank you to the staff at the Hotel Royal for this stay. All thoughts and opinions are my own (Follow them on Instagram here, or book your stay here).
Long Beach is what I’d like to call a ‘hidden gem’ of Southern California. Most people who come to the area usually head straight to Los Angeles for the Hollywood Sign and Third Street Promenade, or Orange County for Disneyland. But Long Beach sits smugly in between, both geographically and in terms of the coastal city itself.
I’m biased about Long Beach. I’ve lived here for the past 2 years and counting, so I love telling people what they’re missing when they have yet to visit. The restaurants and bars here rival anything you’ll find in LA (with less stuffy crowds), and the beachside location means the city operates with a laid-back, carefree pace. Another thing that’s remarkable about Long Beach is its architecture and history. A century ago, it was the fastest-growing city in the country thanks to the discovery of oil and the establishment of the port, and all that money meant the rapid building and expansion of a worthy downtown area. Now, walk around Long Beach today and you’ll find new apartment complexes mixed with decades-old Art Deco and Spanish Renaissance-style buildings that are each equally fascinating, beautiful, and unexpected.
The Hotel Royal is one of those buildings, which makes a stay here an experience in itself. Nothing about this hotel is typical, or conventional. And honestly, that’s what makes this exciting.
In the heart of Long Beach’s downtown area, the East Village Arts District is home to a bunch of cool restaurants, boutiques (if you like the clothes that you see on my Instagram, you have to shop in the East Village – I swear 40% of my closet is from right here), bars, and historic buildings. The Hotel Royal is right in the middle of all of this, making for the perfect home base.
Within 5 Minutes Walking Distance Or Less:
Food: Thai District (must order: Golden Bags. Just trust me!), The Breakfast Bar, Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles
Bars: District Wine (must order: their bar nuts. So simple in theory, but the way they serve them here is mind-blowing alongside a glass of wine) Mezcalero, The Blind Donkey
Groceries: Village Market, Vons
Boutiques: Anneise, Make Collectives, Snake Oil Provisions
Beyond East Village, a short 10-minute walk from the hotel is all you need to get to the beach! The Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, and the Pike Outlets are also a quick walk, bike ride, or Uber away.
To get around, you can drive (street parking in front of the hotel, or parking in the hotel’s lot for $8 a night, are both available), walk, rent a scooter, or borrow one of the hotel’s bikes, which are free for guests.
The building the Hotel Royal occupies was built in 1923, right at the heart of when Long Beach was really booming and expanding as a city. The building itself is in classic Art Deco style, which you can see with its distinctive blue and white exterior walls and boxy shape. Many of the buildings you’ll find in the East Village are all historic, 90+ years in existence, and each incredibly unique.
The lobby, common areas, and rooms are a fun, eclectic balance of artsy and old school that make the hotel feel hip and new without downplaying its history.
Each of the 23 suites in the hotel are individual experiences – no 2 rooms are alike. In the main building of the Hotel Royal, where the lobby is located, you’ll find more classic, key-entry suites. Next door, in the newly acquired adjunct to the hotel, there are new modern rooms with king-sized beds and keyless (code access) entrances. We stayed in one of these, and were given a text-for-assistance concierge by the name of Ivy when we checked in. Ivy helped us remember our door code when we forgot, and reminded us about other things like check out times. You can also use the hotel’s phone concierge service to text questions that will connect directly to one of the hotel staff during lobby hours (until 10 pm), which I thought was incredibly convenient.
The rooms themselves are pension-style, meaning that they feel more like apartments than hotel accommodations. With or without kitchen, key or keyless entrance, private or shared bathroom – there’s tons of options and the hotel takes pride in each room’s individual charm, encouraging guests to ‘find the room that’s right for you.’
Other Nice Touches
The historic building the hotel is located in has its drawbacks, like no elevators and no dedicated parking lot (parking is offered down the street in a remote-access parking structure, which is $8/night for hotel guests). But there are so many unique touches the Hotel Royal offers that make it something special worth experiencing. Honestly, just read some of the reviews of the Hotel Royal on Yelp and TripAdvisor after you’re done with this post for proof – people that stay here LOVE this place. Here are a couple of extra things I personally appreciated about the hotel that you will too:
Ultra Friendly Staff: The staff at the hotel is LOVELY. So talkative, so helpful, and so personable. They also each know a ton about the city and are armed with any recommendation you might be looking for. You feel more like family than like a hotel guest, which I definitely took note of.
Text Concierge: Each guest gets set up with a text concierge service named Ivy. You can use the automated service to ask simple questions like what the code to the building is after-hours if you’ve forgotten. During the day before 10 pm, you can also use the text concierge service to connect with the hotel staff for more complex questions and requests.
Cookies: I’m not sure whether this is a daily occurence or not, but there were cookies laid out for guests on the weekend we checked in, and we couldn’t say no.
Communal Kitchen: There’s a communal kitchen behind the lobby with everything you need. If we were staying longer, I would have loved to make a grocery run and cook dinner here.
Complimentary Breakfast: Each morning from 8-10 am, there is free breakfast laid out in the communal kitchen for guests. It’s simple – yogurt, bagels, waffle mix + waffle maker, juice, and coffee – but it’s a thoughtful gesture and something you definitely don’t get at every hotel. There’s also coffee and tea in every room, if you don’t wake up in time for breakfast.
Free Bike Rentals: I mentioned this earlier but it’s worth mentioning again. There are tons of bikes lined up against the hallway next to the lobby. All you have to do is sign a waiver and check one out with the front desk and the city is yours! Long Beach is very bikeable and there’s a long stretch of bike path on the sand along the coast of the beach that’s a must to explore.
The Hotel Royal is an unexpected, charming accommodation that totally exemplifies the vibe of the city – historic, hip, and anything but typical. Whether you’re planning to visit Long Beach from out of town or looking for a staycation in the city, this hotel will definitely put you right in the middle of the action while feeling just like a home away from home.
Would you stay at this hotel in Long Beach? Tell me below!