CITY GUIDE: L.A

In the heat of the Emmys, it’s only fair that one covers L.A for the second of my insider travel-fashion guide. Whether you are to be out soaking up the culture, seeking out celebrities or eating some of the great foods L.A has to offer, here’s a city guide to see you through your trip…

The Chateau Marmont in L.A., photographed by Mark Savage/Corbis
The Chateau Marmont in L.A., photographed by Mark Savage/Corbis

When you think of where to stay, there is always that one place that stands out, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know of the world that lives inside the 1927 hotel, Chateau Marmont. It may be from £263 per night, but if you have the money to spend and you’re seeking after that famous West Hollywood lifestyle, then it’s certainly the place to be seen. The 1927 Chateau encapsulates old-Hollywood glamour so walking, or better yet, sleeping in the footsteps of Leonardo DiCaprio, Elizabeth Taylor and Greta Garbo, to name a few, has never seemed so easy. Chateau Marmont has become a renowned landmark with having not just some of Hollywoods most notable guests, but also having been a place for filming. Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Tim Burton have all been linked to the Chateau; Sofia Coppola has filmed there, James Franco has held exhibitions and Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis’ neo-noir film The Canyons was partially filmed there, to name but a few Marmont claims to fame. Despite Chateau Marmont having great success over the years, since Andre Balazs’ takeover in 1990, it has taken both Balazs and Chateau Marmont to the next level of grandiose.

“Balazs’ goal was to reinforce the feeling of an urban oasis, a place that would run smoothly but have a strong sense of history”—Architectural Digest

The Standard (Downtown LA), Mondrian Hotel, the landmark Roosevelt Hotel and Montage Beverly Hills, are also places to keep on your travel radar; they embody L.A . The Standard is a retro spot for nightlife and undeterred by it’s underrate exterior, The Standard is an astounding establishment; The rooftop, Biergarten, 24/7 restaurant and fire pit, are merely a snippet of what this stylish L.A hotel has to offer. Good amenities, quirky artistic elements and great food, is just the beginning. The Roosevelt Hotel, similarly to the Chateau and The Standard, is a famous home. Home to the very first Academy Awards in 1929 and also home to the famous David Hockney swimming pool painting  (painted by Hockney in 1988).

The Standard, L.A  (photo: standardhotels.com)
The Standard, L.A
(photo: standardhotels.com)

On the cheaper side, you also have The Queen Mary, which was described by Lonely Planet as “Offering a full-service spa, on-site dining and cabins with a flat-screen TV, this famous ocean liner is permanently stationed in Long Beach. The Aquarium of the Pacific is a 5-minute drive away.” Staying aboard the boat is an experience in itself, with tours and attractions on board including the chance to soak up of the boat’s past encounters, history and myths as well as a selection of eateries. The Varden Hotel is also surprising find, and despite its minimalistic approach, offers breakfast, internet, a gym and of course, a comfy place to rest your head.

If you are really stuck to a budget, there is one place that should be top of your list. Stay on Main has  been deemed “the hippest boutique hotel and hostel in downtown Los Angeles”. Three nights in early September, for two adults and a private bathroom, could cost you (incl. tax) approximately… £61.93! And, it’s not all humdrum, this includes a free shuttle around Downtown L.A (but tip your driver), breakfast, wifi and last, but not least, lobby activities including pingpong.  

“In Los Angeles, everyone is a star.” – Denzel Washington

What to pack: My comprehensive guide as to what you need to stay stylish in L.A.

LA

What to do in L.A…

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, so they say; therefore, when in L.A, feel free to hit the tourist spots, go see the Hollywood sign and hit the shops at Rodeo Drive, but L.A too, is a place of many great things. Leo Carrillo State Beach, Zuma Beach and El Matador Beach are worth spending time at, whilst Venice beach remains one of the most popular.  The Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area is a somewhat underrated place to visit and  Franklin Canyon Park is another great green-space to loose yourself in. Do not forget that L.A is home to wellness, so investing a day or two at a fitness classes and spas, may just be the most L.A thing to do, and the Hotel Bel-Air Spa by La Prairie, may just be the place to spend that indulgent day.

Manhattan Beach, California 1957 by A Box of Pictures on Flickr.
Manhattan Beach, California 1957 by A Box of Pictures on Flickr.

Outdoor cinemas:

Oh yes, outdoor cinemas are a great place to spend your time in L.A, and there is a choice! The Street Food Cinema (site) has all you need, from the movie to the food. It travels around L.A over the Saturdays in August, so keep an eye out. The Electric Dusk Drive-in (site), is the one to be at if you have a car and tickets start at $9. Of course we need one on the beach; Alredo’s Beach Club (site) hold the Moonlight Movies on the Beach season which are free. The locations differ slightly but the movies are always great. Film buffs may also enjoy a classic silent, and in that case, Paramount Ranch (site) hold a variety of silents including Chaplin and Leni classics. Another free screening is the Silverlake Picture Show (site), which shows everything from feature films, to shorts as well as being the place for upcoming talents in film and music.

Shopping:

Rodeo Drive is the place where Vivian Ward (Pretty Woman, 1990) goes on a shopping trip and spends a ton of money on hats and suits. It’s where she gleams the biggest of smiles, parading down the street with all her new purchase, and buys a red dress which made me fall in love with fashion, as a nineties kid. If that’s not enough to make you go, then maybe the stores are. Fendi, Prada, Celine and Valentino, are just four of the many stores.

As well as Rodeo Drive, you have Melrose Avenue, the Beverly Center Shopping Mall, Century City Shopping Center, California Market Center and many more fashion-hotspots.

Pretty Woman, 1990 (Photo: http://images3.cinema.de)
Pretty Woman, 1990
(Photo: http://images3.cinema.de)

Sites:

Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of two places; an iconic building and the place to go for great performances. As well as being featured throughout TV and Film, on such shows and films as The SimpsonsAlvin and the Chipmunks and Get Smart, it is where many great performers and renditions have taken to the stage. Griffith Park is not just the place to take your book and relax, it is also a place of history, wildlife and activities including golf, horseback riding and swimming. Also, with a zoo, theatre, observatory and merry-go-round, the park can take up an entire day of your travels. If you fancy catching a Lakers game, then head to the Staples Center, or to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for 20 acres to explore.

Venice beach is a place of many things. Sea, sun and a ton of history and culture. For the Quirky inside of you, head to Pasadena for the Bunny Museum, oh yes, it exists; a staggering collection of over 11000 toy bunny collectibles! The Getty Museum is the place to head to for your dose of art, with both contemporary and classic works on show and a variety of exhibitions. Dependent on your sort of trip, L.A is a place for beaches and cultural attractions alike. Architecture-buffs will love the Watts Towers and Santa Monica Pier and if you fancy hiking or biking and want to do so whilst taking in the epic scenery of L.A, then Runyon Canyon, Hollywood is the place to go.

Food

People may assume that L.A is all super-smoothies and detoxes, but, L.A is a place for foodies regardless. You can have noodle-bowls, pork-belly or rice-bowl variations at Chego (727 N. Broadway). A great brunch can never be missed either. Farmshop and Mo-Chica have all been highly rated. The Churchill is all about the mimosas whilst brunching at Square One Dining or Axe will fill any craving you have for a great pancake! Lunches and dinners in L.A, whether it be at a hotel or new gastro-artisan restaurant is not to be missed! Places on the to-eat list: Din Tai Fung, The Original Pantry Cafe, Faith & FlowerTaylor’s Steak HouseWOOD Handcrafted Pizza or Jae Bu Do. And if you’re looking to splash a little more cash, then head to Spago of Beverly HillsMélisse or The Hungry Cat.

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Your trip to L.A would snot be complete without living up the nightlife. See yourself at the Thompson Beverly Hills rooftop bar, Skybar or even the Library Bar or Harvard & Stone. There are many many choices when it comes to where you can get the perfect drink, but don’t forget the hotels; The Spare Room at The Roosevelt hotel is all about the classic cocktail… and a spot of bowling if you’re in the mood, whereas Bar Marmont (Chateau Marmont) is more ‘elegance meets gastropub’. It’s then only fair, after drinks of course, that you soak up the L.A nights in true L.A style. Sunset Boulevard is known for great music events alongside The Roxy Theatre, House of Blues and Viper Rooms. Stand-up comedy is also a popular event in darkness of L.A and with many Burlesque shows, there is never a dull moment in Hollywood.

L.A on screen

With a host of filming locations in L.A, it’s a great place for film-buffs to explore. The Olympic Auditorium from Raging Bull (1980), the restaurant in Annie Hall (1977) and not forgetting to mention (500) Days of Summer (2009) and Crazy Stupid Love (2011), have all been filmed/partially filmed in L.A. It is again, no surprise that this is a place to visit, with the city of L.A being home to movie sets, universities (including UCLA and the American Film Institute.)

The Universal Studios & CityWalk may just be the ting you need and with the Warner Bros StudiosUniversal StudiosSony Pictures StudiosParamount Pictures Studio and Paramount Ranch, forget the beaches and the shops, theres a whole another world to be discovered.

Photo via beautifulconduct.com
Photo via beautifulconduct.com
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