A love letter to… L.A. hotels
“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” So said the celebrated American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whose legacy, as already mentioned, lives on in multiple masterworks throughout L.A. As a third-generation Angeleno who has heard it all about my hometown, I will opine that Wright’s remark speaks to the dizzying eclecticism of a city where more than 200 languages are spoken and that up until 170 years ago wasn’t even a part of the U.S. Indeed, it is L.A.’s uncanny ability to mix cultures, lifestyles, and sensibilities that is a big part of the draw for the 40 million-plus visitors who come here every year.
And when they come, where should they stay? Here are three of my favorite L.A. hotels.
Five decades on from its most decadent days, when the escapades of rock stars and A-list actors made unwanted headlines, Sunset Strip has lost none of its sizzle. But notably, over the past few years, The Strip has acquired a new patina of style and sophistication. Nowhere is this better experienced than at the Pendry West Hollywood. The 149-room hotel is a destination diva worthy of a location where the hallowed House of Blues once stood. Expect bold design statements the minute you enter the lobby, where you are greeted by a mesmerizing Anthony James light sculpture seen in Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Move past into the rooms and you’re ensconced in a design milieu described by staff as “L.A. at dusk.” That translates into Golden Age of Hollywood sumptuousness with sleek modern surfaces of natural wood and marble.
Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel
A common misconception of Los Angeles is that there is no proper city center. To visitors, the idea of a vast, 470-square-mile (1,217 sq km) city must seem daunting. But I and those who move to Los Angeles can assure you, there has always been a center since the city’s founding in 1781. It’s Downtown L.A., also known as DTLA or El Centro.
The post-war years were not kind to the city’s core, but things have changed dramatically, and hotels such as the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel unassailably prove it. After undergoing a masterful makeover by designer Kelly Wearstler, the century-old brick building is now reborn as an art-infused, 147-room property of impeccable sensibilities. Curated vintage furniture, rugs, murals, and tiles of every hue reflect Mexican, French, Moroccan, and Old California provenance. This imbues rooms and suites with a rarefied residential feel, which reaches its apex in two specialty suites sited in a former basketball court and indoor swimming pool.
Due north at the opposite end of DTLA, Conrad, the luxury marque of Hilton Hotels, planted its flag with a flourish last summer at The Grand L.A., a new multi-use development adjacent to the city’s most prestigious cultural institutions. Conrad’s flagship West Coast property, the 305-room hotel boasts a long-list of superlatives from build to bites, and, like its Disney neighbor, is the work of Frank Gehry. The interiors by Tara Bernerd & Partners are no less impressive, echoing elements of Gehry’s vision, featuring eye-catching contours, textured fabrics, and polished surfaces rendered from tactile materials including wide-planked oak and ancient lava. The effect dovetails seamlessly into the accommodations, where pale lines and textured wood surfaces are complemented by floor-to-ceiling windows providing stellar city views.
Eric Hiss has written for Robb Report, Condé Nast Traveler, and Variety