When you say you're staying in Hollywood, the locals look away slightly awkwardly. The bold straight-up tell you they don't go to Hollywood. The polite think of some nice suggestions for dinner a short Uber away.
The area's a bit grimy - a far cry from the leafy suburbs of beach suburbs like Malibu. But in a little corner of Hollywood, things are different.
The Dream Hotel and its associated eateries and clubs are opulence, class and comfort. That last one is the most important for those getting to know the city, with all the intensity that comes with navigating the big, the new and the busy.
For those more familiar with these parts - especially those in the entertainment industry - it's the opulence that draws.
The hotel's marble lobby opens onto the street and is a popular spot for guests to have meetings. It's light, airy, modern and comfortable - and there are cookies or coffee and pastries for guests, depending on the time of day.
In Los Angeles, the dry heat is as predictable as it is escapable. At night, away from the sun's heat, the temperature drops. A few hours away in the mountains, that's when bats swoop through the air, seeking out bugs in the fading light. In Hollywood, as the sun sinks, it's not bats but DJs, entertainers and fun-seekers that come alive.
On the roof of The Dream, the floor of the pool slowly rises up, the water disappearing as the pool floor becomes a tiled dancefloor. I was too busy enjoying the luxury of the room to party, but on a weekend night, you can hear the faint bass through the thickly insulated windows.
From this roof, the view stretches across LA. This is The Highlight Room - the hotel's rooftop restaurant and bar. It does a delicious squash-flower, goat cheese and honey flatbread and a not-too-sweet watermelon drink and an extremely hot jalapeño drink (too hot for both my partner and I). The tables all have views.
The same view can be soaked up from the rooms of the hotel, with the best views from the upper floors. Huge windows make the most of the view while insulating from the heat of the LA sun. From the shower, you can watch the slow-moving LA traffic meander through the city blocks.
It's the comfort of these rooms that most impressed me. The platinum studio king has a large bed, with the plush sheets and pillows you expect from a luxury hotel. Room service is twice daily, with the nice touch of an afternoon bottle of water for each guest. You need it in LA.
The tap water tastes like Auckland's probably will in 50 years' time - not good. The soaps and washes are deliciously scented and luxurious to use. And they are generously sized. I took the shampoo home and plan to keep it in my pool bag. I'm sure it will keep me in washes for a couple more weeks.
The penthouse room - called the GuestHouse - is sprawling and lovely, with the best view in the hotel. Ed Sheeran stayed here just a few nights before I arrived, I'm told. It has a dining room and bar for entertaining, a large bedroom, an eggshell bath, an office and those huge signature windows across the city. It goes for something close to NZ$8000 a night.
Walk a block either way from the polished lobby of The Dream and you're suddenly in what you might call the 'real' Hollywood. It's grungy, run-down, and home to a lot of rough sleepers. If you're only accustomed to the type of luxury The Dream offers, it may not be your cup of tea.
But as far as experiencing what LA is really like, it's worth exploring. Dive bars, psychics and tattoo parlours fill the gaps between industrial lots, car parks, and boarded up buildings.
Or hop in a cab and head to the beach, the museum or a nice restaurant. LA's your oyster.