Los Angeles VacationAnd The Award Goes To...
Hollywood… it’s on everyone’s mind, what with Amy Adam’s plunging décolletage in American Hustle blazed into memories worldwide. Oh – and award season, currently in full effect. We may sit at our office windows, gazing into the eye of another polar vortex, but in our dreams it’s sunshine and palm trees, town cars and red carpets, Tom Ford creations and Chateau Marmont after-parties… all building to an Oscar-worthy crescendo.
Why now: Because this time of year, it’s in its element. If red carpets, entourages and oversized sunglasses are not your thing – read no more. But if you can shed your instinctive rejection of flashy wealth and unapologetic spray tans, you might be surprised at how quickly you embrace the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Good for: Couples, friends and families – or anyone after a little glamour.
- Sipping caipirinhas next to Leo and a Coppola at Soho House West Hollywood. This penthouse members’ club is perhaps the most exclusive of all its siblings, so you may have to pull some favors with your influential friends for entry. Do it. It’s worth it.
- Parking yourself with a glass of bubbly in the lounge at Chateau Marmont. This is a prime spot to watch the well-heeled click through en route to the palmed patio. The Chateau is a perfect mix of Hollywood glamour and hedonism, and a definitive celeb favorite. It’s swarming with It girls.
- Settling in for spaghetti and meatballs at Dan Tana’s, and experiencing one of the industry’s classic standbys. For comparison’s sake, head to Craig’s, another celeb-heavy Italian joint from the ex-maître d’ of Dan Tana’s. Personally, we don’t love it quite as much, but a lot of people do.
- Ordering a gimlet at Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower, another celebrity go-to, and waiting for an inconspicuous parade of A-listers to settle in for a cozy dinner with a view of the city.
- Power lunching with heavy-hitters at Hinoki and the Bird. The Century City locale makes it an easy stop for managers and agents, and it transforms into a cool dinner scene come evening.
- Embracing the L.A. club scene, starting with the recently opened 1OAK. New Yorkers may argue that they’ve been there and done that, but trust us, L.A. clubs are a whole different beast. Relish the abundance of non-ironic sequins. Alternatively, head to DBA, recently opened by Simon Hammerstein, the genius behind The Box. You never know what you’re going to get there, and we love surprises.
- Exploring the very hot downtown L.A. Have a cocktail on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel, then head to Bestia, an Italian joint that’s always buzzing with energy. Snag a place at the bar and observe the open kitchen while you wait for your spaghetti rustichella.
- Shopping Melrose Place and hitting Isabel Marant, Chloé and Equipment. Rag & Bone and Opening Ceremony are just around the corner. Refuel with a coffee at the cute, quaintly English Alfred Coffee & Kitchen on Melrose Avenue.
Suggested stay: Three days is plenty of time to get a solid dose of celebrity action and vitamin C.
Where the Players Play
We love observing the people behind the people. The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel is a great place to do this. Expect dressed-down magnates, high-priced Cabs and lots of similarly shaped noses. Further west, the recently remodeled Hotel Bel-Air is another popular spot for the old-school crew. Its piano bar isn’t exactly what it used to be, but they’ve more than made up for it by bringing Wolfgang to the kitchen. Its trellised outdoor space is a prime see-and-be-seen spot for brunch or a nightcap. And the L.A. power lunch is an industry in itself. Grill on the Alley in Beverly Hills is a Hollywood standard. Order a burger and observe a heavy flow of power players. They also frequent Mr. C (as in Cipriani) in Beverly Hills.
L.A.’s culinary scene is thriving, with plenty of favorites in the vicinity of Hollywood/West Hollywood. Want an old school steakhouse experience? You can’t go wrong with Musso & Frank Grill. If you want newer school Italian, Batali’s Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza are always winners, and you can think of Hancock Park’s Chi Spacca as their kid sister, fighting for attention with its lamb neck stracotto. AOC is another staple, especially with its new location, patio and reasonably priced menu. Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, in Beverly Hills, is an obvious French go-to, as is Comme Ça on Melrose. But if steak frites is not an ideal precursor to a figure-skimming silhouette, we have your Power Pilates-toned back. Matsuhisa, Nobu’s original restaurant on La Cienega, will never lead you astray, and Mastro’s Penthouse in Beverly Hills also has sushi options. You can’t beat fish with a view.
See and Be Scene
For a craft cocktail and cool L.A. scene, we love Laurel Hardware on Santa Monica – sip a Highlands cocktail on the patio. Another favorite is Spare Room at the Roosevelt Hotel for its exclusive/kitsch bowling alley. Also at the Roosevelt: Beacher’s Madhouse, where you can catch a Vegas-esque burlesque show. Speaking of Vegas, Hakkasan, in Beverly Hills, is a primo spot with its spacious dark-wood design and booth partitions. Or head to Warwick, where Jeffrey Best has taken a cozy concept and injected it with a hypersexual feel. Que Miley. Grab a spot by the fire and enjoy a Spanish Bull.
After the Party…
If you’re feeling extra connected, try getting into “Community” on Fairfax. This place is so exclusive we can’t even be sure it’s called Community. You literally have to get an invite for entry. Not surprising, considering that its owners are Sean Parker, Olivia Wilde and Bryan Ling (the manager of Edward Sharpe). This is next level hipsterdom – if you’re here, you’re doing something right.
When You’re Up To Get Down(Town)
It’s no secret that Downtown L.A. has experienced a resurgence over the past few years. This is where the cool kids hang. The opening of the Ace Hotel in the historic United Artists building certainly helped this cause. Its opulent concert hall did too. And the hotel’s roof deck is a prime spot to sip cocktails and watch the sun set over the L.A. skyline while a DJ spins in the background. Perch is another great rooftop dining option with a French feel, and of course there’s The Standard, with its own rooftop bar. It’s also home to SPiN, in case you’re a ping pong aficionado suffering acute withdrawal symptoms.
If you’re in a shopping mood, Acne Studios just opened its L.A. flagship downtown. Craving a meaty lunch? Grab a pastrami sandwich at Langer’s Deli, the 65-year-old James Beard-winning mainstay. For outdoor space, a low-key vibe, bar snacks and live music, check out Villains Tavern. And for dinner, Mo-Chica has great Peruvian food, and Las Perlas is home to an impressive list of tequilas and mezcals.
L.A. by Day
The Sycamore Kitchen is a favorite breakfast spot with its rustic design, baked goods and pork belly hash. Everyone loves brunch at Cecconi’s as well. In any case, eat up, because there is shopping to be done. Fred Segal on Melrose is, of course, an L.A. go-to. Rodeo Drive is home to the luxury standards: Chanel, Celine, etc., and Beverly Hills Drive has an Intermix, Scoop, IRO and a new Sandro. Brentwood Country Mart is where in-the-know westsiders hang on the weekends. Hit Jenny Kayne for chic clothes with a distinctive Cali feel, Unionmade for menswear and Space NK for makeup. And Just One Eye is one of the coolest places we’ve come upon in a long time. Located in sprawling Art Deco building once owned by Howard Hughes, it’s kind of like a hipper version of Maxwell’s. Owner Paola Russo always has collaborations in the works (Damien Hirst being one), which ensures that the retail space is constantly evolving and on the cutting edge of art, interiors and clothing.
What’s an award season vacation without at least one coveted beauty treatment? Kinara Spa offers a Red Carpet Facial that will certainly get you glowing. If you want something a little, er, more extreme, Rand Rushe r(whose motto is “pretty hurts”) does some of the best botox in town. He’ll time it so you get in one week before your event. Or just download StyleBee and have a celebrity hairstylist or makeup artist come to you. (You can schedule a blowout as last minute as two hours ahead.) After a long weekend of eating, drinking, shopping and spa-ing, you’ll return home all bronzed and beautified – and the award for Best Visual Effects will go to none other than you.
(Photos courtesy of Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air and Cecconi's)