Los Angeles Travel Guide

Los Angeles Travel Guide

Flanked between a rock and the Pacific Ocean, rich in contrast and unpredictably beautiful, Los Angeles is a global city that constantly reinvents itself. As a unique cultural blend forms the heart and soul of this remarkable city, it provides an exploration into the various lives you could be leading. Where Hollywood glamour meets shabby-chic, and splendid world-class museums compete with dazzling everyday street art, the City of Angels indeed has it all: a big spectrum of outdoor activities, beaches and mountains, arts and culture, west coast design, culinary adventures, health and fitness; all accompanied by blue skies and never-ending sunshine. Although some individuals love to hate LA, they always come around for more- with such a versatile array of possibilities, there is no other city like LA. Looking for the ultimate LA travel guide? Mr Hudson has got you covered.

The best hotels in LA

Let’s start this Los Angeles city guide with a roundup of the best hotels in LA. For the eclectic and hip individual, the stunning ACE Hotel is the place to stay. The property is situated in the historic United Artists building, a historical landmark in Downtown Los Angeles. The rooms are modern, with effortless and classic charisma. For sunny days and starry nights, the rooftop poolside is predestined for a cocktail with a downtown view. Once you leave the ACE, downtown is yours to explore on foot. The rule that nobody walks in LA definitely does not apply in DTLA.

Also located in Los Angeles’s chameleonic Downtown is Hotel Figueroa, an alluring, historic hotel renovated to keep up with DTLA’s increasing popularity as Los Angeles’s cultural centre – think hipster-chic, Spanish Colonial style. Although surrounded by museums, music venues, and art galleries, you’ll want to stay inside the hotel a bit longer to explore its two dining options and three atmospheric bars.

There are three hotel choices for men who like to explore and party in West Hollywood. All are conveniently located in the heart of WeHo, and most attractions, boutiques and nightlife can be reached on foot. The Palihouse West Hollywood, a boutique hotel with 37 rooms is a cosy haven and urban lodge. It is a remarkable private place to come back to for rest and to enjoy a quiet refuge in the midst of WeHo.

The London West Hollywood strikes with elegance and grandeur. Luxurious rooms and a spectacular poolside roof deck with a panoramic view, make for a very alluring choice for the gentleman who appreciates glamour and style.

And although the Petit Ermitage is the closest hotel in proximity to Weho’s bustling nightlife, it sits quietly nestled on a small street up from Santa Monica Boulevard. Shrouded with verdant leaves that encompass the narrow entrance, the hotel is at first site mysterious and charming until you reach the otherworldly beauty of its rooftop. With its spectacular views of LA, large pin-striped, poolside lounge beds, and delicately ornate bar you will realise why you love LA.

Roof Terrace & Pool | Photo: Spencer Lowell

ACE Hotel Downtown | Photo: Spencer Lowell

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Petit Ermitage

Petit Ermitage

Don’t miss the Museum Row on Miracle Mile

Things to do in LA

There are many beautiful places to visit in LA. At night Los Angeles seems like an endless sea of lights. It is a conglomerate of smaller cities connected by spider web-like freeways on a vast territory. Griffith Observatory is probably the best landmark to grasp the city’s immensity as well as the Hollywood sign. The Observatory is located on Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park and is surrounded by some of the best hiking spots in LA.

Right next to Hollywood is WeHo, West Hollywood, mostly known for exuberant gay nightlife, sleek boutique hotels and the Design District, home to many fashion boutiques, galleries and interior design showrooms. Take a stroll on Rodeo Drive and in the neighbourhood of Beverly Hills for upscale boutique and window shopping, where Prada, Gucci and Co. consider their home. Don’t miss the Museum Row on Miracle Mile, a stretch on Wilshire Blvd between Fairfax Avenue and La Brea Avenue. It houses some of the best and most popular LA museums, one of them being the LA County Museum of Art.

And the list of things to do in Los Angeles goes on. Downtown Los Angeles, known as DTLA, is now the hot spot for great city lifestyle paired with architectural bliss. Countless styles can be found, especially Beaux-Arts and Art Deco gems. DTLA is also known as the hub for remarkable restaurants, cafes and bars, some of them located in restored landmark buildings from the early 20th century, fused with contemporary design elements. A Downtown tour should be done on foot, starting at the ACE Hotel passing the Eastern Building, continuing to the classic Biltmore Hotel, the Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry and the recently opened The Broad.

Adjacent to DTLA is the Arts District, an area undergoing a complete facelift from industrial underground with repurposed warehouses to a trendy up-and-coming neighbourhood. Venice Beach is a laid-back beach community and home to hippies, mystics, performers and muscle-beach gyms on Venice Beach Boulevard. Unique and charming shops and restaurants are located on Abbot Kinney Blvd. The chic and posh sister to Venice Beach would be Santa Monica with plenty of great restaurants and leisurely shopping on 3rd Street Promenade. The best way to end the day is a sunset drive along the Malibu coast, leaving LA’s bustling cities behind.

Photo: Tamara Henzen

Photo: Tamara Henzen

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Where to eat in LA

LA is unquestionably a culinary heaven for foodies. A melting pot for numerous international cuisines, a platform for grand chefs and home to the so-called California Fusion kitchen. Angelinos take pride in what they eat. The choices are diverse, eclectic and creative, and there is no need to visit only Michelin-star restaurants to indulge in some of the best food this town has to offer.

The perfect area to start your trip in Los Angeles is Venice made legendary by the fabled bronzed bodybuilders at Muscle Beach or the carnivalistic display along its boardwalk of artists, hippies, skaters and everyone in between. Just up the street from the boardwalk, however, is Abbott Kinney Boulevard. Named after the founder of Venice, Abbott Kinney has an array of boutiques, galleries, restaurants and bars including a four-decade-old gay bar smack dab in the middle of the boulevard, the Roosterfish. Go up the street from Abbott Kinney to Gjusta where you can start your day with a baklava croissant or a mushroom bowl containing a California favourite – kale, kale, and more kale. Gjusta is a mix of a café, deli, and bakery wrapped in one, sourcing all its fresh produce from local farmers.

After working out your buns at Sweat Garage in West Hollywood, you can do as the locals do and grab a cinnamon bun next door at Coffee Commissary.  Wash it down with one of their unique and flavorful coffee blends. Before you know it, you’ll be putting down your sugary bun with regret as you watch the influx of attractive Angelenos lounge in this indoor and outdoor coffee shop.

If you want to be a true Angeleno, move outside what one typically thinks of “LA” and venture into what is known as “The Valley”. Despite the fact that much of the television and movie business resides in the Valley (not excluding porn), this area just over the hill gets a bad rap, or actually, no rap at all. But what outsiders often do not know is that a car ride along Ventura Boulevard presents to you an array of food choices that are probably the best the LA greater area has to offer. One place you can’t miss is Katsuya. There are in fact many Katsuyas throughout the city, most of which are swanky sushi establishments. The Katsuya you should go to, however, is a hole in the wall sushi restaurant tucked away on the corner of a petit strip mall in Studio City. The fish is fresh, and the hand rolls melt in your mouth!

Photo: Matt Alaniz

Photo: Matt Alaniz

Off 3rd Street, one of the most walkable areas of LA, is Gusto, a cleanly and minimally designed Italian trattoria the East Coast Italians would be jealous of.  Everything is good here, but you must order the Arancini croquettes, the Orecchiette, and the Broccolini. For a more internationally recognised Italian restaurant with an old Hollywood vibe, check out Cecconi’s in West Hollywood. Known for its Oscar parties and celebrity patrons, Cecconi’s offers delicious food and drinks that are best served at their bar where you can watch the Hollywood insiders and outsiders pass by.

Los Angeles is defined by its vastness and its cultural diversity where you can find any type of cuisine as long as you are willing to drive to it. One, however, cannot visit LA without eating Korean food. The Korean food is so good and so pervasive in LA that some South Koreans half-joke that Korean food in Los Angeles is better than in Korea! While this is obviously debatable, the point is every visitor should enjoy the pleasures of eating Korean BBQ. Park’s BBQ is one of the top Korean BBQ establishments in LA and is best known for the quality of its meat. It’s love at first bite here, so remember to wash down their mouthwatering bulgogi with some soju.

An enjoyable spot for brunch is Odys and Penelope. Located on La Brea Avenue, another walkable shopping area in LA, the brunch at Odys and Penelope is eclectic with dishes that tickle both your savoury tongue and sweet tooth. The ricotta pancakes with sweetened blueberries are the best in LA and will make you cry with joy.  For a more upbeat, trendy brunch and dinner venue in West Hollywood’s design district is The Henry. Its smartly arranged, open-air bar faces the increasingly bustling Robertson Boulevard while luring visitors to its expansive space. Enjoy their Bloody Mary any time of the day.

Gjelina

Gjelina

Le Petit Marche is one of the newer restaurant and bars in the centre of LA off of the shop-ridden street of Larchmont Boulevard. French-inspired (obviously), Le Petit Marche prides itself on fresh, high-quality food from local producers of cheeses, wines, pastries, and more! It marries the feel of a neighbourhood restaurant with a gourmet market. You’ll want to also head over to their bar to indulge in their truly innovative cocktails that ring more Mexican peninsula than French Riviera – after one sip though; you won’t care.

Then, of course, there is Gjelina, probably one of the most consistently popular restaurants in Los Angeles. Although dinner reservations may be difficult to get if you don’t book in advance, you can still enjoy Gjelina’s creative menu and California ambience during the day for lunch. For being such a physique-focused city, there is an unusually high number of delicious food options to ruin your diet.

Photo: Mike Von

Photo: Mike Von

Shopping in LA

It may be the heat or that air of nonchalance, but apart from the Hollywood elite, Angelinos take their fashion seriously, but not to the point of obsession. Of course LA has its fair share of fashionistas and LA’s fashion scene, like its art scene, is growing rapidly, but Angelinos aren’t as consumed with fashion the way New Yorkers are; they think they look fabulous and fierce all the time (although it’s best not to use those words out loud) and that’s all that matters. When it’s warm most of the year anyway, you’ll want to wear as less as possible.

The common theme running through LA’s fashion scene is, relaxed – where fun in the sun meets physical and spiritual wellness. Imbued with this relaxed sensibility is Wittmore, a men’s clothing store you can find both in DTLA and Mid-City. From their cosy drawstring sweatpants to casual tee-shirts you can wear in the house or out to brunch, the clothes here are simple and comfortable. Off La Brea Avenue’s shopping district, you’ll find General Quarters, which displays clothing and accessories representing Californian masculinity; trucker hats, printed tee-shirts, and articles of denim define this store, one of LA’s favourite spot for men’s clothing.

To complement that I’m-so-cool-in-LA look, buy a pair of Bonnie Clyde sunglasses, the quintessential LA eyewear brand found at various retailers in the city. Colourful, playful, and durable, you will definitely have fun wearing these sunglasses both outdoors at the Santa Monica Pier or indoors at your hotel bar. If you travel often and are enamoured with the outdoors, head to Aether. You may not confront the polar vortex that besets other parts of the US, but believe it or not, you can feel cold, particularly in the winter, if you’re near the beach, or take a weekend ski trip to Mammoth. Aether is the perfect place to shop if you like fashionable and functional, wintry clothing. But if you’re staying in LA and need something for the night out, head to Douglas Fir on 3rd Street where you can find designer clothes to dress you up from head to toe.

MUD Australia

MUD Australia

Also on 3rd Street take a peek into OK, an itty-bitty store full of unique accessories and one-of-a-kind pieces of jewellery and decorative art. This is the ideal place to get gifts for your loved ones back home if you don’t decide to keep them for yourself. Across the street is Mud Australia, exquisite, handmade porcelain crockery from bowls and cups to candles and lighting. With their colourfully-designed products, you’ll be tempted to deceive your minimalist instincts (if you had them to begin with) once you step foot in this place.

Located in DTLA’s art district is Apolis, known for their charming, customizable bags you can use for work, grocery shopping, or anywhere else you deem necessary to carry a bag (an overnight tryst perhaps?). Apart from their bags, however, Apolis carries an array of men’s clothing from jackets and suits to basic tees (organic of course) and swim trunks.

Photo: Spencer Lowell

Photo: Spencer Lowell

Whether it is for a cocktail, some food on their outdoor patio, or dancing, The Abbey is the best place to start or end your night

Los Angeles nightlife

No  Los Angeles gay guide would be complete without taking you out. West Hollywood has a lot to offer when it comes to gay nightlife, but The Abbey Food & Bar is a WeHo institution and without a doubt, the most popular bar in LA, if not the entire country. The gogo dancers here not only gyrate their bums in your face but impressively perform for you and the audience. Whether it is for a cocktail, some food on their outdoor patio, or dancing, The Abbey is the best place to start or end your night. If you are looking for a more quiet venue for a drink so you can actually hear yourself speak, visit Marix, a Weho neighbourhood Mexican bar and restaurant that doles out tasty margaritas. But if testosterone-filled raunch is more your cup of tea, then head to Precinct, Downtown LA’s largest gay club with various themed nights from “Bear Bust” to “Cheap and Easy”. Precinct is for every scene, age, and inclination so you can enjoy yourself and the music there any day of the week.

The Boardroom

The Boardroom

Sometimes, however, one simply wants to savour their drink rather than spill it on the dance floor. If you are looking for a more chill night with a speakeasy vibe, there is no dearth of options in LA. One of the most well-known speakeasies in LA is The Varnish. Here, you can get a glimpse of the old-times of prohibition. It’s a modern-day speakeasy in the back of Cole’s restaurant, a historic diner from 1908 in Downtown LA. Similarly, close by is The Boardroom. Both elegant and intimate, The Boardroom has one of the best cocktail menus in town. You can order libations here like the Frida Kahlo and the Meryl Streep, or if you’re in a group, you can please everyone with a punch bowl. Douse yourself in Ernest Hemingway, a delicious mixture of rum, lime, falernum, grapefruit, and maraschino. Tucked inside a brasserie, The Boardroom may be difficult to locate but well worth it. There is also The Normandie Club, set inside a brick-lined building on an unassuming street in Koreatown. The Normandie Club is the perfect spot to head over to after grubbing on Korean BBQ. Discover their unique takes on classic cocktails and study the crowd on their tufted leather booths. Who knew Negronis taste good with cucumber!

Located mid-city in the heart of the historic Melrose shopping district is The Melrose Umbrella Co. Yet another bar paying homage to the history of the post-prohibition era, The Melrose Umbrella Co. is so artfully and thoughtfully designed, it seduces Angelenos and visitors alike. There are many LA speakeasy experiences, but this is one you won’t want to miss.

Petit Ermitage

Petit Ermitage

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