• Monday, September 28, 2020

Los Angeles Vacation

Los Angeles - L.A. Story
December 15, 2010
By , Galavante Special Contributor
Laguna Beach

The glamour. The glitz. The romance. It’s Hollywood, baby. And although Los Angeles may be the playground for the stars, they won’t be the only ones having fun for the weekend. As one of the most photographed destinations in the world, the City of Angels evokes images of streets lined with palm trees, high-end boutiques, sun-kissed surfers, Hollywood legends of yore and modern day starlets. It’s here you will create your own L.A. Story.

For a feel of Old Hollywood head to Chateau Marmont, part of Andres Balazs’ empire.  Chateau Marmont is located on the Sunset Strip and resembles, well, a French chateau. It’s been a favored destination for Hollywood icons since its inception in the twenties.  Known for its discretion, rumor has it that in the forties, the head of Columbia Studios, Harry Cohn, cautioned his young male stars, “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” A certain red-headed starlet did just that, rumored to have spent most of her multi-million dollar fortune on living at the Chateau, as well as other activities.  It’s now a favorite spot for stars such as DiCaprio, DeNiro, Sting and of course you.

Whether you choose to drink in the view from the Sunset Strip, downtown, or the Hollywood Hills snagging a rooftop view is a must, if only to be closer to the stars. To experience new Hollywood head to the Mondrian Hotel. The Mondrian worships at the altar of modern design with clean lines and colorful lighting. It is home to Asia de Cuba, which expertly blends Asian cuisine with a Latin flare. The hotel also offers the exclusive Sky Bar, which provides commanding views of L.A. and caters to a celebrity clientele. Offering a rooftop pool, Sky Bar has a beachy feel during the day as waitresses are decked out in bikini tops and sarongs. By night, it transforms itself into a lounge and offers bottle service. After 8 p.m. access to the Sky Bar is available only to hotel guests, Vinnie Chase and those lucky enough to obtain a coveted spot on the guest list.

For dinner The Bazaar   by Jose Andrés  , offers inventive cocktails and food.  Located in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, The Bazaar as well as Bar Centro, the hotel’s main bar, has a design that is sleek, sophisticated and eclectic. While food and drink are taken seriously, SLS injects an air of playfulness into the atmosphere as evidenced by various ways in which monkeys are integrated into the décor. While waiting for your table, try the Magic Mojito at Bar Centro if for no other reason than the unique presentation. Sit back as the server places before you a martini glass filled with homespun cotton candy. The anticipation builds as the liquid mojito is poured from a martini shaker into the glass, slowly melting the cotton candy and transforming it into a decadent mojito.

If you are in the mood for a more traditional meal, head to nearby Mastro’s, an old school steakhouse that harkens back to the days of the Rat Pack.  Upon arrival the valet will greet you so toss him your keys and leave the modern day world behind as you enter. You’ll want for nothing here with the attentive and friendly service and although the seafood is cooked to perfection, this is a meat lover’s paradise and it would be a crime not to order steak. Standouts include the bone-in ribeye and bone-in filet — and be sure to splurge on the lobster mashed potatoes and Gorgonzola Mac n’ Cheese.

The morning after, have breakfast at The Griddle, an L.A. institution located in West Hollywood or WeHo to the locals.  It’s close to impossible to resist the nearly 20 types of specialty pancakes such as the “Saturday Morning Fever,” a sinful concoction that infuses buttermilk pancakes with Bailey’s and Kahlua.  Be prepared to wait in line, but kill the time by looking across the street at the Coffee Bean which doubles as Perez Hilton’s satellite office.

With all this eating, you will wonder how L.A. is so fit. Their secret is to hike in Runyon Canyon. With its proximity to the Hollywood Hills, Runyon is a popular celebrity fitness destination. For a challenging and steep hike take the path that runs counterclockwise where you’ll be treated to an unparalleled view of the Santa Monica Mountains and L.A. Should you require a more relaxing hike begin your hike clockwise or hike the route up to the Hollywood sign.  Although the sign is now closed off to the public, it is possible to get near the sign if you take the route to Mulholland Highway via Beechwood.

Beverly Hills
If you’d rather engage in retail therapy, Robertson Boulevard is a shopping destination.  Get ready for those flashing lights as the paparazzi may be camped out since Robertson is home to such celebrity hangouts as Newsroom Café and The Ivy. Let Lady Gaga’s song play in your mind and pretend they’re waiting for you as you duck in and out of various high-end boutiques. Curve, Lisa Kline, Kitson and Madison are just a few of the shops offering cutting edge fashion. Of course Fred Segal is an iconic stop. For stores with a gentler price point, head to The Grove.

If you want a break from the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown, take a drive up the PCH and enjoy the stunning vistas. Stop by one of the public beaches to catch some rays and watch the waves crash. Continue further up along the coast to Malibu and lunch at Gladstone’s, part of the SBE restaurant enterprise. Gladstone’s is a casual seaside seafood joint where you will pay for the view as prices are comparable to the Hamptons. After lunch and a few Dragon Berry Mojitos, spend the rest of the afternoon at the Getty Villa, which is located on a hilltop and houses the Getty’s antiquates collection. The admission to the Getty Villa is free, though a ticket must be reserved in advance.

To see some sights outside of L.A., drive to Pasadena and spend your final day checking out the famed L.A. mansions. Spend the night at the Langham Pasadena, a former Ritz Carlton, which is hugged by the mountains and the perfect spot to go into seclusion. You might resist the urge to leave the grounds as it houses a pool, spa and fitness center, and a Michelin-rated restaurant —not to mention afternoon high tea and jazz in the Japanese garden.  It's choose your own ending, after all, in your L.A. Story.