Shandelle Battersby checks in to the Hilton LA Universal City in Southern California.


This Hilton was built in the 80s to service the crowds visiting Universal Studios and sits within Universal City. From Los Angeles Airport it'll take you about 45 minutes, depending on traffic.

Check-in experience: Fine, but there was a wedding going on so we had to dodge the bride in her huge gown and extensive bridal party by the elevators. The lobby is vast - gift shop, fountains, tour operators - and when we got there it was mayhem, which seems normal for this place. It's fun though. I liked the huge basket of complimentary green apples on the check-in desk.

Room: 965 on the ninth floor of 24. The Hilton is a bit of a rabbit warren, with rooms shooting off in all directions. The room has a great device charger with 12 ports, an office area, a flat-screen telly and a large wardrobe. A basic coffee machine sits on top of an empty fridge and I could see the theme park structures from my window. There was a faint smell of cigarette, but running the air con seemed to help. The hotel was last renovated in 2008 but could do with a spruce-up soon.


What's in the neighbourhood? Universal Studios is obviously the big attraction, but Hollywood, the Hollywood Bowl and Los Angeles Zoo are pretty close by car or cab.

Exercise: There's a big outdoor pool and "whirlpool" with loads of cabanas and loungers, and a fancy gym.

The bed: Two comfy king singles.

Bathroom: A shower/bath combo. There's a phone by the loo, which always freaks me out a bit.

Toiletries: Peter Thomas Roth range. The bar of soap is shaped like a massage brush and has a raised surface at one end.

Noise: None, except from the noisy fridge.

Price: From US$209 per night.

Food: There are several options in the hotel - a Las Vegas-style buffet (Sierra), cafes, and the more casual Lobby Lounge with a la carte options. Ten minutes' walk away - or a shuttle if you are l-a-z-y - is Citywalk, the Universal Studios food and shopping strip, open to everyone, which has fast food options and restaurants such as Tony Roma's, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. The buffet breakfast at the hotel is excellent.

Free wi-fi? Yes.

What's so good about this place? Its proximity to the theme park and other entertainment options. It's also not far from Downtown LA.

And the bad? It's a little isolated, so you have to buy meals either at the hotel or catch a cab somewhere else.

Would I return? Only if I was spending all my time at Universal Studios. The food options are expensive and the atmosphere is a little boring.