Kitsch-Cool Convenience Abounds at Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn

Lobby at Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn in Chinatown
Lobby at Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn | Photo: Best Western

You’re a boots-on-ground type of traveler, favoring convenience and accessibility to that which will satisfy your curious mind. As far as you’re concerned, immersing yourself in the culture and customs of your destination by way of up-close and personal experiences is the only way to go. You live for trying new food, absorbing art and culture, and essentially learning as much as you can about the local history. You also prefer to do it on foot, rather than from a tour bus. That’s precisely why you’ve chosen the Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn, located just a half-block from historic Chinatown and the Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station.

Courtyard at Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn in Chinatown
Courtyard at Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn | Photo: Best Western

From the moment you approach the hotel, you know you couldn’t have chosen a more interesting home base for the next few days. As you walk through the atrium peppered with a convenience store, jewelry stores, and a full beauty salon— you realize that although you know you’re in Los Angeles, you feel like you could be half a world away. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn
Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn | Photo: Best Western

The lobby greets you with vibrant Chinese accents and the hotel’s friendly staff welcomes you to your temporary home. When you get to your room, you can’t help but notice…  It. Is. Spotless. But, there’s nothing austere about it. That’s thanks to the gorgeous Chinese mural behind your bed, and the brilliantly black and gold armoire housing the television. In a word, it is perfect.

Photo: Chinese American Museum, Facebook
Photo: Chinese American Museum, Facebook
Wu Chi-Tsung Crystal City 007
Wu Chi-Tsung, 水晶城市系列 007, Crystal City 007, dimensions variable, 2015 | Photo: Wu Chi-Tsung

You’re eager to get out and explore America’s first modern Chinatown in earnest. Your first stop is the Chinese American Museum, a pleasant 15-minute walk from the hotel. You’re particularly interested in the permanent exhibit, Origins: The Birth and Rise of Chinese American Communities in Los Angeles. Also on view at CAM, Lightscapes: Re-envisioning the Shanshuihua presents work from two Taiwan-born contemporary artists, Nick Dong and Wu Chi-Tsung. Re-imagining the philosophies of Chinese landscape paintings, the exhibition brings forward new media works and immersive light-based installations that are not often explored within this genre.

The exhibits do not disappoint. In fact, by the time you’re done at the museum, you realize you were there longer than you realized and you’re famished.

Howlin' Ray's Nashville Hot Chicken | Photo: Howlin' Ray's
Howlin' Ray's Nashville Hot Chicken | Photo: Howlin' Ray's

At Far East Plaza, there are more dining options than you can count, and it’s not just Chinese food. Ahh, the line at Howlin' Ray’s Chicken is everything you’ve read about. You can wait, or grab a snack at Baohaus, Hong Kong waffles at J&K Hong Kong, noodles, porridge and leek cakes at Kim Chuy; Filipino fare at LASA, pho and banh mi at Thien Huong; or Chinese comfort food at Qin West.

Bruce Lee statue in Chinatown's Central Plaza
Bruce Lee statue in Chinatown's Central Plaza | Photo: @yagoddamnright, Instagram

Sufficiently stuffed you continue along Broadway, arriving at Central Plaza, which is awash in lanterns and neon lights. You visit the Seven Star Cavern Wishing Well, pause for a selfie with the famous Bruce Lee statue, and admire the 50-foot-high Golden Pagoda, before picking up keepsakes of gorgeous porcelain, wood, and jade craft items from the many shops.

Homebound Brew Haus at Union Station
Photo: Homebound Brew Haus

You return to the Dragon Gate Inn with your cultural cravings sated, and peek through the bamboo dividers to see where you’ll enjoy your complimentary full breakfast tomorrow morning, after your workout in the hotel’s 24/7 exercise facility. You’re going to need plenty of energy as you’ve got a lot more culture to absorb tomorrow, beginning with a visit to the birthplace of L.A. at El Pueblo de Los Angeles, followed by shopping, strolling, and learning more about L.A.'s history via the museums along Olvera Street. A French Dip at the landmark Philippe The Original is a must, and after that there's Happy Hour at Imperial Western Beer Company in the iconic Union Station, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.

As you climb into your crisp sheets and look for a documentary on the complimentary HBO, you sigh contentedly. Just a stone’s throw from your room you have access to countless enriching cultural experiences, and you haven’t even ventured more than a mile from your bed.


Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn

818 N. Hill St, Los Angeles 90012

(213) 617-3077

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