Smart Stay

Hotel Maya

by Laura Motta
Lobby at Hotel Maya, Long Beach / Laura Motta
by Laura Motta

Just 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles, laidback Long Beach offers an unpretentious antidote to its nonstop neighbor. Slower paced, great for families, and without the eye-popping prices that you’d find in Los Angeles, this working-class seaside town offers plenty to see and do. Stay put here for a few days — and maybe even use it as a lower-key base for exploring LA — and you’ll also notice a new energy emerging, especially if you stay at Hotel Maya. Bursting with creative, modern, Mexican-style design, and filled with intimate and thoughtfully designed spaces, you’d never know at first glance that this resort is actually a Doubletree. Here’s what we found when we checked in.

The Basics

Budget Level: Upscale ($150 to $300 per night)

Lodging Type: Resort (197 rooms)

What You Need to Know

The Look

A recent renovation transformed this property from a run-of-the-mill big-box hotel into a slick pastiche of pre-Colombian Mexico, and the reference makes sense. Long Beach is home to the amazing Museum of Latin American Art, a must-visit while you’re in town. Giant felted beanbags, overstuffed pillows in indigenous patterns, textured stone and wood, colored glass, and pops of pinks and oranges make this property a fun feast for the eyes. Poolside cabanas, a lovely landscaped walking path along Queensway Bay, and a man-made sandy beach offer innumerable places to enjoy some solace or take in the views. Rooms are somewhat less detailed and eye-catching than the public spaces, but many have balconies with views of the bay where you can relax after a day of sightseeing. 

The Vibe

The other refreshing thing about this property is its blessed lack of a scene. There’s no such thing as an LA-style velvet rope here, and guests include business travelers, families with young children, and older and younger couples enjoying a staycation. Evening and seasonal events (brunch with a live Mariachi band is a favorite) lure locals, as does the on-site Latin American restaurant, Fuego. The latter has an outdoor seating area that’s especially appealing at sunset, and even in cooler weather when gas heaters keep things cozy. 

Who Will Love It

Hilton devotees in search of something totally out-of-the-box will love this property, whether traveling for business or pleasure. Even if you’re not part of a loyalty program, though, this hotel is a charmer if you’re looking for a unique SoCal stay with plenty of personality and zero attitude.  

Who Might Not

If you’ve come to California to celebrity-spot, you’re likely be out of luck here, unless your idea of a famous grand dame is the Queen Mary, which is permanently docked a few short blocks from the resort.  

Best Amenity

Fuego is hard to beat for upbeat atmosphere and top-notch food. The standards like ceviche, guac, and tortilla soup are all there, but you can also try short rib tamales, mac and cheese served with spicy tortilla chips, and ropa vieja (a Cuban-style braised flank steak served with black beans and caramelized plantains). Check the website for upcoming events; you might stumble across anything from a Mother’s Day brunch, to a Latin American music festival, to a pop-up hookah bar. 

Money Matters

What’s Included

Your room is included in the rate, as is access to the pool, gardens, and fitness center. A van shuttle that delivers you within a few miles of the hotel — including many spots in downtown and central Long Beach — is complementary and ultra-convenient if you’re not planning to bring a car. 

Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About

All food and drink cost extra. The hotel also lets you bring a pet (50 lbs. max) for a $50 fee. Parking costs $30. As of the date of publication, there is no resort fee at this property. 

How to Get a Deal

Stay late in fall or early spring when rates dip to $170 per night. A summer stay, in contrast, will run anywhere from $250 to $300 per night.  

Getting There

In the Neighborhood

Hotel Maya is situated directly across the bay from ShoreLine Aquatic Park and its signature lighthouse. It’s also an easy 10-minute walk from the Queen Mary, the 1930s-era Cunard ocean liner that now houses a museum and restaurant. Just beyond the Queen Mary is Long Beach’s cruise port, where Carnival Cruise Line ships drop anchor. If you’re sailing into or out of Long Beach on your cruise, you won’t find a more convenient place to stay than Hotel Maya.  

Nearest Airports and Cruise Terminals

Long Beach Airport, which is serviced by JetBlue, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and United, is an easy 18-minute ride from the hotel. Expect a ride share to cost about $15 each way. It’s a 45-minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport, (about $35 in a ride share).  

The Long Beach cruise terminal is a five-minute drive, or an 11-minute walk from the property. Carnival Panorama, the line’s newest ship, will home port here starting in late 2019. If you're sailing on a cruise line other than Carnival, your cruise will likely arrive at the San Pedro terminal, which is a 15-minute drive (approximately $13 in a ride share) away. 

The Bottom Line

You’ll find the softer side of Los Angeles — without sacrificing design — at this smart Long Beach hotel.