Tourists are often lured to Los Angeles by the sparkling beaches of Malibu, the ornate mansions of Beverly Hills or the flashy lights of Hollywood Boulevard. But true Angelenos know that LA’s diverse network of neighborhoods, many of them far from the city’s tourist traps, are really what makes the City of Angels so special.
Take Culver City — a charter city located smack dab between Venice and downtown LA — that features its own vibrant downtown, a rich arts and culture scene, a recent tech boom and a chill, family-friendly vibe.
When the city was founded in 1913, it was perfectly positioned for growth: In addition to its placement between two growing hot spots, it was developed alongside railroad tracks on a transportation line, and it enjoys a year-round temperate climate. Movie and television studios (Sony Pictures Studio is headquartered here) brought in economic growth in the city’s early days, leading to the city’s nickname, “The Heart of Screenland.”
Now, more than a century later, Culver City has firmly cemented itself as a central spot within bustling Los Angeles County. In 2021, it caught the attention of Destination Hotels, a portfolio of upscale, independent hotels under World of Hyatt, and The Shay opened its doors in October of that year.
Located along Washington Boulevard, Culver’s main thoroughfare, the 148-room, 19-suite hotel sits at the corner of Ivy Station, a 500,000-square-foot transit-oriented, mixed-use development that also includes residences, some of HBO’s West Coast offices, a handful of restaurants — including Etta, a swanky Italian restaurant on the bottom floor of The Shay — and retail shops. The hotel itself was built at the site of a former LA Metro parking lot and is adjacent to Culver City’s Expo Line, and guests of The Shay get two complimentary metro tickets upon check-in. (The hotel’s name also pays homage to the nearby tracks; railroad engineer Ephraim Shay developed and patented the Shay steam locomotive.)
Culver City’s Hometown Hangout
Destination Hotels’ properties famously draw upon the spirit of their host destinations, and the Shay is no different. In fact, the hotel’s lobby is even affectionately called “Culver City’s Living Room,” according to Rick Kneifl, the property’s marketing manager.
I could certainly see why. During my stay, I saw a steady mix of hotel guests and locals flitting about inside the lobby, holing up with their laptops in a brightly-lit corner, reading on a cozy chair by a central fireplace, sipping lattes near the lobby cafe (which also serves a variety of pastries), saddling up to the lobby bar for a cocktail or playing pool in “The Game Room,” a recreation nook just off the lobby. The space that leads to the hotel’s elevators (and its rooftop Canopy Club restaurant) features pop-up exhibitions from local vendors (including those at the Platform, an upscale shopping center for independent brands that’s located across the street.)
The Shay mainly attracts corporate travelers, meeting groups, weekenders and Culver City locals, says Kneifl, but he sees that evolving as the hotel grows in popularity. One of the main attractions for guests is the aforementioned Canopy Club, a Palm Springs-inspired restaurant on the hotel’s sixth floor that serves New American cuisine (including a delicious fish sandwich) and a menu of refreshing cocktails best enjoyed in the pool, which is 3 feet deep and heated to 92 degrees year-round. Loungers and cabanas can be booked for day use via ResortPass (hotel guests receive complimentary pool access).
Rooms at The Shay
Rooms at The Shay are simple and functional, an intentional design that mirrors “the resourceful spirit” of Culver City, according to Hyatt.
My 423-square-foot King Bed guestroom with a balcony included all the fixings for a comfortable stay, including an in-room Nespresso machine, a 55-inch flat-screen television, a desk and a spacious shower (with Imperial bath amenities) and a mini-fridge. The bathroom also included a separate vanity, with a stool, across from the sink, which I found especially useful when getting ready for a night out in Culver City.
After all, The Heart of Screenland was beckoning.