“ City: Los Angeles / Country: United States / World Region: North America „
Starline Tours is one of many tour companies based in Hollywood, California. On our first day in Hollywood, we took a walk down to Hollywood Boulevard and decided to explore and take a look at what was on offer, I already knew I wanted to do the star homes tour, but didn't know what else there was and if it was worth seeing.
We walked up and down the walk of fame, finding stars and looking around, every few metres you are stopped by someone working for yet another company offering you the star home tour for X amount. But if you book right then and there, they will give you a discount.
I would have just signed up to the first one if I'm honest. We had arrived earlier than planned and were now available to go on a tour then and there. My other half however wanted to ponder and look around before deciding which company seemed most reputable.
The reason we chose to go with Starline is because although the price was slightly more expensive, the outfit generally seemed more professional. There are Starline booths on the Chinese Theatre side of Hollywood Boulevard and the main booth / pickup area is located on the Chinese Theatre concrete to the right.
Starline offered more than just the one tour, they had printed leaflets and staff prepared to help and book tickets for you. The staff while very helpful and prepared to do their job, some could be a bit short, and we almost felt like they just didn't care either way if we booked or not. But then not being rude, we found this in general with the Americans, they fell in to one of these categories: very helpful and enthusiastic and couldn't do enough for you, or: not really interested in you, and couldn't care less, there were more important things to do.
Anyway, we bought 2 tickets for the star homes and Hollywood sign tour. We were told this went numerous times a day and you alternate tours had a different vehicle, you could either go on the open top truck, which had windows but no roof (not sensible in the middle of the day for me), or the mini bus truck with no windows, we chose this option, I needed somewhere to stay out of the sun and the no windows was good for taking pictures and getting a lovely breeze.
The tours start running at 9.30 am and go every half an hour from then on. The tour lasts 2 hours and is the most popular tour for any of the tour companies running out of Hollywood.
The tickets cost $39.00 each adult, but if you are prepared, you can knock them down, although not as much as the other tour companies, which in my other halves view means they are least dodgy. The pickup area is at the Chinese Theatre, so after buying our tickets at the Kodak Theatre booth, we proceeded to the Chinese Theatre and waited by that booth. We were supposed to leave at 1 pm, but we didn't end up getting picked up until gone 1.20 pm. I thought great, this was a good idea.
Thankfully from then on, service was good, we were picked up and taken to our mini bus which was outside the back of the shopping centre and Theatres. It was surprising to see how many buses Starline owned.
Off on the tour: we were taken down Hollywood Boulevard and out to Sunset, we visited Beverly Hills, Bel Air, we drove past Rodeo Drive and up in to the Hollywood Hills.
The tour was really good, the driver introduced himself and spoke of the history of the whole area and pointed out places of interest.
There were two things that really annoyed me about the tour, was the stars obviously treasure their privacy and therefore have rather tall fences and hedges surrounding their properties, this means you see nothing really, except for the driveways, gates, hedges and fences of the rich and famous. Ok, so this wasn't Starline's fault and I appreciate the tour guide had pictures of the properties behind but I didn't go all that way to see fences. Secondly, the tour leaflet states you'll see all these people's houses, and we didn't (not because of the hedges etc) but we didn't go to a lot of the named places on the leaflet, this disappointed me and I generally felt like it was a wasted trip.
Last of all we visited the Hollywood sign, although you can see the sign from Hollywood Boulevard, it is tiny and you don't really get a feel for it. I knew before we went we wouldn't be pulling up beside it, as it is on private land. But you can get close enough to have a photo taken with it in the background.
I have only seen people with the sign to the left of them, meaning they have seen it from the right hand side, we went to the left hand side, and were definitely further away and it wasn't the backdrop I expected. Starline say they get closer than other companies, but I was disappointed at the distance, I know you can get closer than we went.
Overall I would rate the Star Homes & Hollywood Sign 5/10. Generally as a tour and seeing the sights this was good as our introduction to the area but I wasn't overly impressed with the content of the tour, whether that is Staline's fault or not is another question. I think perhaps my expectations were too high. (The best way to stalk celebrities would be to rent a car and sit outside all day in the hope of getting a glimpse).
We also did the Universal Studio day trip with Starline Tours, we knew Universal was a bit of a distance away and we would probably have to get a taxi. Universal Studio's entry fee is $69.00 and for $79.00 you can get a hotel pickup and collection from outside the gates of Universal Studio's for $10. That was worth it, we did this and it definitely benefited us.
The bus picked us up at 8.30 am, then dropped us outside Universal Studio's and gave us our tickets, then we had a day in there, and left at 6.30 pm on the Starline bus outside. If you don't want to spend all day here a taxi would be a better option, but you can easily spend the day in here. We ended up being finished about 20 minutes before pickup.
On the way home, the bus was over crowded and I had to sit on the last seat, and my boyfriend ended up sitting in the stairwell by the door. Again I wasn't overly impressed; they seem very relaxed and didn't really care. It had been a long day, if I had been in a more feisty mood, in would have complained and asked for some money back, as he didn't get a seat.
The final thing we did with Starline was buy a city pass. This lasted 24 hours from the time we brought the ticket and this allowed us to hop on and off throughout the day and explore off our own backs. There are 4 lines, red - Hollywood & Sunset, Yellow - Beverly Hills & Santa Monica, Purple - Dowtown Los Angeles and Blue - Universal City & Hollywood Bowl.
We only managed to use the red and yellow lines. There are over 50 stops on this tour route over all 4 lines. This 24 hour ticket costs $30.00 per adult and is well worth it, you can also buy a 48 hour one for a bit more, if we had more time I would like to have bought this and done downtown too.
I was thankful we got a chance to see Santa Monica Beach and Venice Beach, the ticket allows you a lot more freedom to explore and is great to get around. The only problem is waiting for some buses, like from Hollywood going to Santa Monica Beach, you have to get the red line to Wilshire Boulevard, then swap to the yellow line, the buses don't run in sync, and even if they do, they often get held up in traffic and this can make for waiting around.
We used Starline on more than one occasion and they probably do have the most experience and the most tours but they don't always run smoothly. I would use them again though and recommend them to anyone I know going to Hollywood. They are without a doubt the largest operation and I wouldn't trust the others as much.
For more information about tours and where Starline run visit their website on: www.starlinetours.com