This was our view from our table while eating lunch at the In-N-Out Burger. Alitalia on short final.

This was our view from our table while eating lunch at the In-N-Out Burger. Alitalia on short final.

Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX, ICAO: KLAX), is renowned as a planespotter’s happy place. It boasts a seemingly endless stream of aircraft, many from airlines not often seen elsewhere in the U.S., along with several very good public viewpoints from which to watch them all parade past.

Occasional fare sales allow a weekend trip down the West Coast to be an accessible avgeek treat, so Francis Zera (AirlineReporter’s associate editor) and I grabbed a couple cheap seats and headed south.

There are several hotels very close to LAX. The runways are aligned east-west, with standard traffic flows arriving from the east; there are two parallel runways, separated by the airport’s terminal buildings. Off-site, there is a cluster of hotels to the east of the terminals, and this is where the H Hotel is situated. It seems purpose-built for planespotters, with an amazing roof deck that allows great views of arrivals on both of the airport’s runways.

The rooms are really comfortable and well-appointed. Our room looked out over the iconic LAX sign and the control tower. We took this before messing it up with all of our photo gear.

The rooms are really comfortable and well-appointed. Our room looked out over the iconic LAX sign and the control tower. We took this before messing it up with all of our photo gear.

The hotel’s official name is a mouthful: H Hotel Los Angeles, Curio Collection by Hilton. With no wait at the front desk, we were greeted with a smile, quickly checked in, and sent on our way to our room up on the 12th floor. The first impression of our room was that it was spacious with a very tall ceiling and spectacular views of the airport. Just like the room, the bathroom was also comfortable and had a nice-sized shower. The supplied shower amenities were also pretty nice we wound up smelling lots better than usual.

Getting back to photography, which is why we traveled to LAX in the first place, the hotel has a most excellent rooftop terrace on the 12th floor that provides great views to the north, west and east, with a peek-a-boo view to the south. The terrace is surrounded by five-foot glass barriers, and it has plenty of seating and tables. IMHO, it’s worth the price of the room just for the ability to spend time up there.

There were two queen size beds in the room, and they were extremely comfortable. We slept very well during our stay. Of course the comfortable beds helped, but we were also very tired from an early morning flight and from a full day of spotting around LAX.

Also noteworthy was the lighting in the room; there were individual reading lights on each side of both beds and a nice accent light along the top of the headboard. We also made good use of the many outlets throughout the room, including two outlets that each provided a pair of USB charging ports.

The outlets sure came in handy at the end of the day when it was time to charge our camera batteries, phones, and laptops.

Even when it's foggy, LAX is a fine place to watch airplanes.

Even when it’s foggy, LAX is a fine place to watch airplanes

Per usual in nice hotels, the room had a giant flat-screen TV, which we did not use during our stay, but we did make use of the Nespresso coffee machine the following morning. Not being familiar with the various colored, yet unlabeled, Nespresso capsules, we did not know what color meant coffee, so our luck had that on our first try we made tea. Overall no big deal, but there were only two cups in the whole room, so that left us with only one cup. Sure would have been nice to have a couple of extra cups in the room, and perhaps for those Nespresso capsules to be labeled so for those of us who are not proficient in the apparently secret language of Nespresso machines. We did survive the ordeal, though, and there’s a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf shop down in the lobby as a backup.

The hotel's exterior.

The hotel’s exterior

Ours was room 1229, on the 12th floor, which is the hotel’s highest level, and sported a fantastic view of the airport and its runways. The view was equally impressive at night, with nice views of the taxiway and runway lights. It was too bad that the windows on the outside were extremely dirty as photographers this was something we noticed right away.

It was quite foggy the night of our stay, but that somehow didn't really matter. This is the view from room 1229.

It was quite foggy the night of our stay, but that somehow didn’t really matter. This is the view from room 1229.

There is a restaurant in the lobby, which we did not visit, but we did patronize the coffee shop. There is a free airport shuttle for guests that runs every 20 minutes or so, 24/7. Parking is available, too – self-parking for one night costs $35.20.

We saw plenty of special liveries during our visit  this is Qantas' OneWorld livery on a B744.

We saw plenty of special liveries during our visit this is Qantas’ oneworld livery on a B744

All in all, we were very impressed with our stay. For spotters, the access to the rooftop terrace is reason enough to choose the hotel, and, if you choose to use the shuttle and not to rent a car, it’s only a 10-15 minute walk to the park by the In-N-Out, which is a pleasant spot to pass a couple hours or even a whole day.

Editor’s note: The H Hotel provided one complimentary night’s stay at their LAX property for the purposes of this review. Our opinions remain our own.

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King F Hui

Is that H Hotel or Homewood Suites? Are they sharing the same building? They are both brands of Hilton.

Plane-Crazy Joe


How ’bout more details of the terrace! Such as how to access it; its hours for usage; any restrictions, etc. Is there a entrance door that requires a room key? Can non-quests access the terrace?

Hi Joe,

I got the official word from Steve Hellmers, who is the Complex Director of Sales for The H Hotel.

Here’s what he said: “The Overlook Terrace is for registered H Hotel guests only. It is accessible with your activated guestroom key between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily, provided it is not reserved for any private events.”

So there you have it.

Hi King F Hui,

I forwarded your question to Steve Hellmers, who is the Complex Director of Sales for The H Hotel and Homewood Suites. Here’s his reply:

“Yes, both hotels are in the same building. The Homewood Suites LAX is located on floors 2 through 6, whereas the H Hotel comprises floors 7 through 12. The Homewood Suites brand is geared towards extended-stay travelers and families, whereas the H Hotel is a more upscale, modern product similar to that of a boutique hotel, but with the backing and strength of the Hilton brand. Only our H Hotel guests have access to the rooftop deck.”

Mike Butorac

Any double glazed window / glare issues?

Hi Mike,

Of course there is, from the rooms. But the rooftop is where the views of the planes are, so no issues there, as there are only the glass safety barriers, which you’re able to see over on tiptoes or from a barstool (there’s a photo above that shows this).

I just stayed there for the SpotLAX event – it was fantastic. I spent the equivalent of a full day up on that rooftop deck – it’s amazing. You’ll miss the cargo operations from up there, since they stick on the south end, along with most of the traffic from Mexico and South America… but it’s still completely mind-boggling.

Agreed on your main points – and I also made a cup of tea on my first try with that terrible Nespresso machine… and I also somehow managed to ruin both of the coffee cartridges before going downstairs and getting some more from the front desk.

The frequent shuttle notwithstanding, it’s also worth mentioning that the hotel’s within pretty reasonable-ish walking distance, especially from Terminal 1 or 2. If you didn’t want to hit Imperial Hill, Proud Bird, or any of the other locations to the south, you could have a pretty good experience there without ever riding in a road vehicle.

Also, Francis, I’m not usually a fan of streaky long exposures, but that shot’s a stunner.

Hey Nick,

Thanks for the comment.

I, too, have walked to the airport from the hotels in that area, and definitely should have mentioned it. We had a rental car this trip, and totally forgot about that option – appreciate the reminder.

As long as we’re on the topic, it’s also a very easy walk to the park near the In-N-Out Burger – that’s how we got there most of the time. The car was for accessing the other spots you mentioned.

Darren Scott

Does look very good , but am I right in thinking you only get one runway view ?
Is there another terrace on the opposite side ?


On another note, I have stayed four times at LAX the last time being in 2015.
I have not returned as the price of accommodation is now ridiculous even in the basic 3 star hotels.
Previously I have had decent accommodation for £60 per night !
Is there any explanation for the high prices these days ?

Darren – as mentioned in the article, there’s a “peek-a-boo view to the south.” You can shoot activity on the south runways from up there, but, it’s pretty far away, and light might only be good on summer evenings… I imagine the heat distortion would get pretty bad. Either way, from up on their deck, you can see the south runway’s departure queue, and the start of the roll, for arrivals, you can just see them touching down before they roll out of view. You can also see a bit of the south runway from the other side – see Peter’s shot with the “LAX” sign in the foreground… the south runways are there, if distant, to the left.

Plane-Crazy Joe

Darren, you have an alternative of booking a hotel inland; where you might find better/lower rates. Obviously, you’d need to hire a car. (Search for a hotel that doesn’t charge for car parking.) And you’d have to contend with the notoriously clogged so-called ” freeways”! I’ve done this – years ago. I booked a hotel located beneath the Approach to 25L, as I recall.

One reason for high rates at hotels near LAX is likely due to government(s) charging you a plethora of taxes and fees – for YOU to support all the Illegals who’ve invaded SoCal.

Nice review. Last week I spent a night at the LAX Hilton, which has always been my go-to hotel for early morning flights out of LAX. The hotel allows guest to choose their room, so I always make sure to get a south-facing room, preferably as far west as possible for the best views. The hotel also offers a airport viewing room package, but I’ve yet to spring for that, particularly since I can pick my own room.

The downside of this hotel is that you can only see the southern runways, and being so close to them, it tends to be very noisy at night.

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