Los Angeles County hotels had a stellar 2005, with room prices and occupancy rates soaring to highs not even seen when travel spiked before the post-9/11 slump.

The average occupancy rate last year was 77 percent, up from a little over 74 percent the year before. In travel-heavy 2000, the occupancy rate was about 76 percent, according to data released last week by hospitality consulting firm PKF Consulting.

The average daily room rate in the county jumped to nearly $130 in 2005, compared to under $120 in 2004. The average price for a night's stay was less than $125 in 2000.

Despite the strength of the local hospitality industry, however, December wasn't especially strong. While prices stayed high, occupancy didn't increase.

The average occupancy rate was 62.7 percent in December, down slightly from 62.8 percent the same month the prior year. In November, the average occupancy rate was 74.3 percent, up from 71.2 percent in the year-ago period.

Beverly Hills hotels saw one of the greatest occupancy declines in the county, falling to 58.5 percent in December from 64.4 percent in the year-ago period. Occupancy at South Bay hotels was down to 63.6 percent in December from 69.6 percent the same time the year before.

Visitors to L.A. County paid, on average, $125.85 per night in December, up from $117.82 a year earlier. In November, visitors paid slightly more, $127.66 for a night.

With the exception of downtown, all L.A. County submarkets saw room rate increases in December. Hollywood experienced the highest room-rate jump of all submarkets: It was up 27.2 percent to $147.69. The price of a room downtown decreased nearly 4 percent to $109.94.

Beverly Hills hotel rooms remained the most expensive in the county in December, at $347.16 for a night's stay. The second priciest was Santa Monica, at $234.90.

Hotels in the San Gabriel Valley, around LAX and in the I-5 Corridor/Whittier area were among the cheapest in November at $87.27, $80.26 and $83.57 per night, respectively.

Hotels around LAX have not seen the jump in average daily room rate experienced in other county submarkets.

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