Funeral Planning in Los Angeles- Santa Monica and Surrounding Areas- Guru Guide

Overview: Los Angeles- Santa Monica and surrounding areas

Los Angeles is the second most populous city in America, making it exceedingly diverse and often called the “Creative Capital of the World.” The Santa Monica area is the iconic relaxed oceanfront life that many tourists come to enjoy and celebrities have opted to make their home. The surrounding areas, such as Venice Beach and Culver City, are a combination of relaxed, trendy and up-and-coming.

Funeral Homes

If you plan to have a traditional funeral service with the body present (regardless of whether you choose to bury or cremate the body afterwards) you must work with a funeral home to make your arrangements. Note: in this area, we were particularly impressed by the funeral homes that were attached to cemeteries.

Name

Rating

Price Level

Religion(s)

Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary

Highly recommended

Medium

Jewish

Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy Funeral Directors

Recommended

High

All Faiths

Gates, Kingsley & Gates Smith Salsbury Funeral Directors

Recommended

Medium/High

All Faiths

Holy Cross Cemetery and Mortuary

Recommended

Medium

Catholic

Larson Family Mortuary Funeral and Cremation Los Angeles

Recommended Low/Medium All Faiths

Woodlawn Cemetery, Mausoleum and Mortuary

Recommended

Medium

Catholic

 

View Los Angeles (Santa Monica and surrounding areas) funeral homes. in a larger map

Crematories

The choices below are direct cremation companies and tend to be less expensive than working with a funeral home.  Most of the funeral homes mentioned, however, offer very reasonably priced cremations.

Name

Typical Price

All California Cremation

Low

Cremation Society of LA

Low

Cemeteries

You will work directly with the cemetery to arrange for a plot and the burial, but many of the details like buying a casket and body transportation will be coordinated by the funeral home you choose. Note: Some of these cemeteries have funeral homes on the premises.

Name

Rating

Price

Religion(s)

Location

Hillside Memorial Park

Highly recommended

Medium/High

Jewish

Culver City

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Highly recommended

Medium/High

Catholic

Hollywood

Woodlawn Cemetery

Highly Recommended

Medium/High

Catholic

Santa Monica


Funeral Homes and Cemeteries – Complete List

Recommended Highly


Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary
6001 West Centinela Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(800) 576-1994
www.hillsidememorial.org
This is an absolutely gorgeous combination Jewish cemetery and funeral home. It’s an exceedingly well maintained cemetery featuring different sections from the typical in-ground to niches. There were also beautiful areas with streams, sitting areas and even waterfalls. We were welcomed at the funeral home by a very nice, compassionate, and efficient receptionist named Vaughn. Then Leonard went beyond the call of duty and took the time to explain all the options available at Hillside; he gave a wonderful education and was very considerate. He did ask if we were looking to bury someone Jewish, noting that was necessary at Hillside; however, they happily bury significant others of Jewish people because they think it’s more important to keep families together than to be selective. Lots and lots of VIP burials.

 

Recommended
 

Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy Funeral Directors
1925 Arizona Avenue
Santa Monica CA 90404
(310) 395-9988
www.gkgmm.com
Annette warmly welcomes clients into this beautiful location. Unfortunately, our experience turned negative when we were put in a small room to discuss arrangements with Regina via speakerphone. When we questioned this impersonal treatment, she told us she was at the other SCI location, but that we could make plans with her over the phone. Uncomfortable with this option, we hung up and were unable to find anyone else in the funeral home to assist us. We did spend time walking around the funeral home and even into the showroom, which was airy, open and beautiful. Even though we had a few issues, this place was very nice and clean and they offered tea, coffee, sweets and snacks.
 

Gates, Kingsley & Gates Smith Salsbury Funeral Directors
4220 Sepulveda Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 837-7121
click here for their website
This is another SCI location just a few miles away from the Santa Monica location, where the facilities matched the lower prices. The chapel had lots of windows that looked out over an array of plants and vegetation, which was very nice. There was, however, a small “slumber room” that was not only creepy, but also a bit too confusing. (Rather than make it a welcoming place to relax, we were told you could only have a few select people in the room, and you’d be charged if you exceeded the people on the pre-arranged list.) Unfortunately, the staff wasn’t warm, accommodating or completely knowledgeable. They did, however, mention they have a deal with the local Ramada Hotel if you’re interested.

 

Hollywood Forever Funeral Home and Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 469-6349
www.hollywoodforever.com
It’s not surprising that Hollywood’s A-list chooses to make this cemetery, which is a national historic landmark, their final resting place. The website has a movie of the cemetery that’s done in a way that’s pure Hollywood. The entire premise is outstandingly beautiful. A full service funeral home is located on the grounds and the staff is exceedingly forward thinking and helpful. Unlike other offices in this industry, each of the directors brought their personal charm to the space. We were calmed not only by Noelle’s knowledge and compassion, but also by the Buddhist statues and pictures of her pets in the office. She willingly gave her time, told us about the cemetery, and even gave us a genuine hug when we left her. The cemetery shows movies certain nights and was unbelievably gorgeous. There were peacocks, ducks, lots of vegetation and water and different types of interment options to suit all tastes and religions. This is easily one of the most gorgeous cemeteries ever. Diane Keaton got it right when she said there is “strong positive energy there!”

Holy Cross Cemetery
5835 West Slauson Avenue
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 836-5500
www.holycrossmortuary.com
Located within the Holy Cross Cemetery this facility offers over 21,500 square feet of space, two large visitation rooms (that can be subdivided into smaller ones), six arrangement rooms, after service reception area (with kitchen amenities to accommodate 88 people), large chapel that can hold up to 288, flower shop, mortuary and cemetery and a lush green courtyard.

Larson Family Mortuary Funeral and Cremation Los Angles
1828 Broadway St. 2nd Floor #C
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: (310) 883-8733
www.larsonfamilymortuary.com

Erik Larson, who runs this "Storefront funeral home" completely changed my understanding of and opinion on this operation. Originally, I was bothered by the fact that when I pulled my car up to the location given to me on Google, all that appeared was a skin care center. After a few conversations, I learned that Erik (and his two associates) operate remotely; the office I went to was just where they handle paperwork. This team seems to be quite professional and very dedicated to the families.  GURU TIP: This is a wonderful option for those who do not want the traditional funeral home setting; that is, however, not for everyone. 

Woodlawn Cemetery, Mausoleum and Mortuary
1847 14th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 458-8717
www.smgov.net/Departments/Cemetery
This cemetery and mortuary combo located conveniently in Santa Monica is a small treasure. They have been in the location for over 100 years. The grounds are well maintained and the staff is very kind and helpful. This group seemed to go beyond the necessary and really try to commemorate the lives of those who are interred there.
 

Cannot Recommend Yet
 

Los Angeles Funeral Services, Inc.
12553 West Venice BLVD
Los Angeles, CA  9006
(310) 390-9969
(TWO LOCATIONS)
www.losangelesfuneralservice.com

 

Direct Cremation Companies


 

All California Cremations
(800) 575-0551
www.allcaliforniacremation.com
It’s rare to see reviews of cremation companies online; it’s even rarer to see multiple people say that they wish they could give it more than five stars! It seems that although they are one of the most reasonably priced cremation companies we have come across, they are very professional. We spoke to a few staff members and all were kind and knowledgeable, especially Pauline. Although their facility is in Palm Desert, you can pick up the ashes after the cremation at one of their two locations in Los Angeles at no additional charge.

Cremation Society of LA
(800) 615-5501
www.creamtionlosangeles.to
This is a reputable company that seems professional; we appreciated that they did not seem pushy. We were pleased to hear that they cremains could be returned in only 5-7 working days. Again, this is one of the most inexpensive services that we found.

 

Hotels:

Tens of millions of tourist visit Los Angeles each year; needless to say, there needs to be plenty of hotels to accommodate all. Here, you can find a hotel to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. You might be best searching another website to find the ideal location for you. Here are just a few in the area:

$                up to 150
$$             151 to 250
$$$           251 to 350
$$$$        351 and up

Culver City Travelodge
11180 Washington Place
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 839-1111
www.travelodge.com/hotels/california/culver-city
This very reasonably priced hotel is ranked highly among its guests. Located in the upcoming area of Culver City, this hotel is conveniently located near LAX and most of the funeral homes we recommended. $


Ramada Culver City
3930 Sepulveda Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 390-2189
www.ramadaculvercity.com 
This is a standard motel in the area, which offers specials to those coming in to work with the local funeral homes.  $


Venice Suites 
417 Ocean Front Walk
Los Angeles, CA 90232
(310) 566-5224
www.venicesuites.com
This is an excellent choice for those looking for a more homey stay. Guest can take advantage of the sleek apartment-style rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi and phone, and the amazing convenient beachfront location. $$


Viceroy Santa Monica
819 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 260-7500
www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/santamonica
This is the hotel of choice for those looking to pamper themselves while in Santa Monica. Guests constantly rave about this modern luxurious boutique hotel, which offers top restaurants and bars, two fabulous pools and a modern well-equipped gym. The staff here does everything to make the guests’ stay as enjoyable as possible. $$$-$$$$

 

Restaurants

Needless to say there are numerous restaurants in Los Angeles. Here are just a few recommended options for venues close to the funeral homes that can accommodate a group. If you opt for another restaurant be sure to call ahead and ask if they can hold a crowd your size; the restaurant might have a special event private room and/or menu. Also, you might want to consider a favorite local restaurant or a deli such as Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery or New York Bagel and Deli to cater a Shiva or lunch at your home.
 

Frito Misto Italian Cafe
601 Colorado Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-2829
www.frittomistoitaliancafe.com
Enjoy tasty Italian food, as well as plenty of options that will satisfy all dietary need, in a very casual and comfortable setting. The owner/operator has created an atmosphere where customers feel they are valued; the portions are large, the wine is reasonably priced and the staff is extremely pleasant. Note: They also have catering.


Joe’s Restaurant
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-5811
www.joesrestaurant.com
Here, they pride themselves on locally sourced ingredients, which are used to create “Californian-French” cuisine.  They have private rooms and can accommodate up to 120 people there or cater at another location for up to 200 guests.


Tar and Roses
602 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 587-0700
www.tarandroses.com
Renowned chefs offer delicious local seasonal foods in a comfortable, casual and very cool environment. This restaurant has quickly become a favorite among the Los Angeles clientele. The staff is accommodating and happy to work with groups of all sizes.

 

Waterloo & City
12517 W Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90066
(310) 391-4222
www.waterlooandcity.com
This British-inspired upscale gastropub is quite casual, young and comfortable.  For those who are looking for something different, this meat and cheese heavy restaurant might be the answer. They have a private room that can seat about 50 people and offer catering.

 

Other Helpful Local Resources

Ampersand
658 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles 90004
(323) 466-3300
www.ampersandboutique.com
This is an upscale women’s consignment shop that focuses on selling by season. You don’t need to make an appointment to come in, but some of the clothing you consign may not be sold right away.


Cherry Picked Thrift Shop
‪2807 Pico Blvd.  
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 998-5858
This small thrift store is a favorite among locals. The small size limits the selection of items on display, but customers appreciate the free pastries from the owner.


Council Thrift Store
12120 Venice Beach Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(Multiple Locations)
(323) 467-6811
www.ncjw.org
The National Council of Jewish Women runs this chain of thrift stores. Unlike any other thrift store in LA they can provide you with an itemized tax-deductible receipt upon donation. It’s also worth noting that if you are within one of their pickup areas, they will pack up and collect an estate. They also work with Cars 4 Causes if you would like to donate your vehicle.


Goodwill
530 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-1400
www.goodwillsocal.org


Out of the Closet
6210 West Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 467-6811
www.outofthecloset.com
This non-profit chain of thrift stores donates its proceeds directly to providing medical care for those living with AIDS. It’s operated by the AIDS Healthcare foundation and they also provide free rapid STD and HIV testing and counseling another location.