Hotel options have improved recently, especially around Northbridge – and new luxury international hotels from Westin and Ritz-Carlton are scheduled to open in the CBD and at Elizabeth Quay in 2017 and 2018.
Both the CBD and Northbridge are close to public transport, making hopping out to inner-city suburbs such as Leederville and Mt Lawley straightforward.
Most of Perth's hostels are in Northbridge, and it's possible to walk around and inspect rooms before putting your money down. Note that many hostels have long-term residents working in Perth, and this can alter the ambience for short-term visitors and travellers. Northbridge also has a few new boutique hotels, which are convenient for the area's good restaurants, bars and nightlife.
If you care most for the beach, consider staying at Cottesloe or Scarborough, as public transport to this part of town can be time-consuming.