Los Angeles is mired in preconceptions: it’s not walkable; once you pick a neighbourhood, stick to it; there’s no great shopping. But a fresh wave of boutique hotels, independent shops, and a buzzy new district are breathing new life into the city. Here’s our curated travel guide for spending a week in L.A., a sprawling city with more than meets the eye.
Where to Stay
Palihouse West Hollywood is the boutique hotel group Palisociety’s recently reopened property tucked away on a quaint (but prime) corner about a minute’s walk from brunch hot spot Joan’s on Third and Magnolia Bakery. The Soho House-meets-quirky California decor is refined yet homey, like a stylish aunt’s cottage in the British countryside. The group’s outpost in eastern L.A., Silver Lake Pool & Inn, is an urban oasis inspired by the Italian coastline. Over in Santa Monica, the Proper Hotel, with interiors by Kelly Wearstler, puts the powerhouse designer’s signature eclecticism on chic, sophisticated display—all within walking distance from the beach.
Where to Eat
Los Angeles ranks among the best dining scenes in the world, drawing globally renowned chefs opening Michelin-starred spots to hole-in-the-wall stalls. Chef Enrique Olvera—the man behind Mexico City’s Pujol, considered one of the top 10 best restaurants in the world—recently opened Damian in the Arts District, serving haute Mexican cuisine using local produce in a sleek, contemporary space. Bestia, its next-door neighbour, is one of the city’s buzziest Italian restaurants. Chifa, in the city’s Eagle Rock neighbourhood, is owned by the family of Humberto Leon, the founder of Opening Ceremony and former co-creative director of Kenzo. The restaurant, which has a jewel-toned, zebra-patterned interior, serves Peruvian Chinese fusion, including dishes like wood-fire grilled chicken with spicy aji sauce and Lai Cha Float, which is milk ice cream with a side of hot milk tea for the guest to pour over the ice cream (an interactive take on an affogato). Finally, the famed San Francisco “manufactory,” bakery, and restaurant Tartine has opened a location in L.A.’s Sycamore District, a new neighbourhood dotted with contemporary art galleries, coffee shops, a record store, and Just One Eye, a cutting-edge department store (that looks, fittingly, like an art gallery).
Where to Shop
The truth is, L.A. is a fantastic retail city. The New York brand Bode now hawks its delicate camp shirts made from vintage quilts, lace, and bed sheets from a new location on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Opened last February, the 3,000-square-foot space was designed by Green River Project and features custom-built walnut cabinetry, exposed beams, and hand-painted signs to evoke simpler, Americana-coloured eras past. In the Arts District, the L.A. location of Dover Street Market, the department store from Comme des Garçons, is a temple to the avant-garde, in a stark, gallery-like space also featuring brand installations, rare books and magazines, and the latest streetwear. Silverlake’s Mohawk General Store is a multibrand shop outfitting the neighbourhood’s artists in labels like Auralee, Our Legacy, and Lemaire. And the previously online-only shop Maimoun has opened its first bricks-and-mortar location in West Hollywood, highlighting independent and emerging designers like Julia Heuer, SC103, and Maryam Nassir Zadeh.
What to Do
Frank Lloyd Wright designed Hollyhock House in East Hollywood for the oil heiress Aline Barnsdall in 1921, and today the house is a paragon of California modernist design. Lovers of contemporary art can take an electric scooter downtown to the Broad, a museum with more than 2,000 artworks from the likes of Andy Warhol, Kara Walker, and Roy Lichtenstein. The contemporary art gallery Lisson Gallery recently opened a new space in the emerging Sycamore District, joining the bespectacled gallerist Jeffrey Deitch in the neighbourhood dotted with coffee shops, a record store, and the ultrahip eyewear brand Jacques Marie Mage—a destination all its own. Any night of the week, you can see live comedy in L.A. Largo at the Coronet welcomes emerging and established comics from Sarah Silverman to Megan Stalter to the stage—you never know who you’ll see.