With Los Angeles just a flight across the Pacific, I swapped a week of miserable Aussie winter for seven glorious days of summer in LA.
I was lucky enough to travel to LA with Tourism West Hollywood and play for a week in this brilliant city. Affectionately known as WeHo, it’s made up of three main districts: Santa Monica Blvd, the electric Sunset Strip and the West Hollywood Design District. The palm tree lined streets and constant buzz gives you the feeling of A-List. It’s common to run into a celebrity or two and its clear to see that West Hollywood embodies all things LA.
With an action packed itinerary and stars in my eyes I headed out to find out the best that WeHo had to offer!
Stay: The Mondrian
Located on the converted Sunset Strip this boutique hotel was beyond cool. The Mondrian was only 3kms to Beverley Hills and the rooms did not disappoint! I stayed in a one-bedroom suite with views over the strip. There was a separate lounge and kitchen area and the bed was like sleeping on a cloud.
The Mondrian boasts one of the best pools in West Hollywood and along with that comes the bragging rights of the best pool parties in LA! We were lucky enough to gain access to a pretty epic white party at the world famous Skybar (an invite that was extended as we were guest at the hotel).
A perfect start to any day was either having breakfast on the outside terrace near the pool or securing your pool chair and ordering a mimosa from the friendly staff.
Lunch: Gracias Madre
Definitely a highlight of the culinary side of the trip, Gracia Madre is a Mexican-style, vegan, organic restaurant. The fit out was insane with huge glass windows bouncing light throughout the restaurant from the outside terrace.
We settled in for a delicious lunch — the service was impeccable and the food was even better. Pretty much everything is made in-house and I settled on one of the “bowls” — a delectable mix of romaine, brown rice, black bean tempeh, chorizo, guacamole, pico de gallo and cashew crema.
There is also a huge variety of your Mexican favourites such as quesadillas, tacos, gazpacho and the yummiest homemade salsas I have ever eaten.
The cocktail menu is well balanced and thought out, and apart from every sort of Tequila you could ever imagine there is a delightful wine list mostly with California whites, reds and Rosés on offer.
I settled in with a snow cone cocktail, probably the best of the trip. I highly recommend you add this restaurant to your itinerary, it isn’t just a foodie haven it is an experience!
Dinner: E.P & L.P
Owned by our very own Aussie expat and DJ royalty Matt Smiley, this Asian fusion restaurant is a hot spot that has to be on the to-do list when you hit LA.
Start on the rooftop L.P for sunset drinks, there is a fire pit to sit around with the crew and enjoy a few cocktails from the extensive drink menu. The rooftop is completely open, and wooden floors give you the feeling of hanging back in Australia on a friend’s deck. The space is expansive with plenty of booth seating and a view over the streets of LA.
After you’ve enjoyed the rooftop make your way down to the restaurant, the ex-head chef of Longrain (Surry Hills, Sydney) Louis Tikaram is behind this killer Asian fusion menu and has his alumni of chefs by his side including Dan Hong from Ms G’s, Sydney; Martin Boetz from Cooks Co-Op and Longrain, Sydney; and David Thompson from Nahm, Bangkok.
Do yourself a favour and order the pork belly, lou dogs crispy skin chicken and the turmeric and coconut clams. The Espresso martinis were some of the best I have ever tasted and the Rosè on the menu was superb, the wine list was both varied in price and origin.
A blow dry at Salon Benjamin
Head to Salon Benjamin for a blow dry; this salon just oozes cool and is located in the design district where the chance of spotting a celeb are pretty high! There is an extraordinary amount of talent under the one roof and it actually was one of the best salon experiences I have ever had.
Founder Benjamin Mohapi says “My goal was simply to elevate standards and expectations, to move away from cheap celebrity and to focus on the craft of great hairdressing.” The salon was inviting and had a little area off the side of the main salon where you could stock up on your very own take home hair care kits to ensure you keep your tresses in the best condition you can from the comfort of your own home. Bliss!
A private tour of the Phyllis Morris showroom
Legendary LA designer Phyllis Morris started her career back in 1957, best known for her “Poodle Lamps” she quickly moved into the man’s world of design and became well known for her gothic throne chairs, intricate carved pieces and, eventually, her canopy beds (there is a 6mx6m canopy bed on display, it has to be seen to be believed).
Her legend lives on through the work of her daughter Jamie Adler, who has made custom designs for some of the most well know celebrities in the world. You can take a little piece of celebrity with you after a walk-through of the showroom. Make sure you ask for Greg at the showroom, he will sit you down and share some dirty little secrets from old Hollywood and his time with Phyllis. We enjoyed it so much we didn’t want to leave!
Poolside drinks at The London West Hollywood
The rooms here are to die for and the rooftop is no different, the hotel has recently undertaken a renovation of grand proportions. We were lucky enough to have a guided tour through the new room offerings, which are pure luxury. The new rooms have had no expense spared in adding luxury fixtures and fittings. The “premier suite collection“ offers an array of one, two and three bedroom suites and, should you have a spare $15,000 laying around, you can stay in the astonishing penthouse for a night.
I am getting carried away, so back to the roof! Located on the tenth floor of the hotel and with epic views over LA and Beverly Hills this is the perfect place to enjoy all that is LA.
There’s a large pool in the centre which is looked over by a line of palm trees, the perfect place to take a photo if I do say so myself! There is a fire pit for the cooler evenings where you can settle in and enjoy a bottle of champagne while the sun sets. You can also enjoy an array of food on the roof, affectionately known as “Boxwood on the Roof” for breakfast, lunch and dinner (if you’re staying at The London).