Los Angeles, the City of Angels, is a world centre of business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media and fashion. I was in LA for business but in such a diverse and buzzing metropolis it is hard not to have a good time.
My hotel, The Downtown Standard, is famous for being featured in the movie ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ and is located in the Downtown business district, which has the look of Canary Wharf about it with lots of high-rise office blocks and skyscrapers. Upon arriving at the hotel, the first thing that surprises me (after the tipping situation with the cab!) is the eclectic architecture at The Standard. The building was an old office block with art deco features, which is in sharp contrast to the modern branding of The Standard Hotel Group. My room, a ‘Gigantic’, is VERY spacious (all in the name I suppose); it’s all about clean lines, with curtains instead of internal doors and everything a modern girl or guy needs: mini bar, an iHome for your iPhone and complementary WiFi.
The hotel boasts one of the coolest features in any hotel in Downtown LA, a rooftop bar & infinity pool overlooking the cityscape. Wearing my Missoni maxi dress over my bikini, I settle into one of the comfy sofas and order a Mimosa. While sipping the tropical drink, I read my W Magazine and survey the LA lovelies, it seems only beautiful people hang out poolside at The Standard. After a dip, and several more Mimosas, I head back to my room to change for dinner.
Day two brings me to Santa Monica, the beautiful white weather-boarded beach district. We have reservations at The Lobster off Santa Monica pier, famous for their fresh seafood and amazing view over the coastline. Arriving early, we promenade along the quaint pier and, staring out at the Pacific Ocean, I see a flock of pelicans skim over the water heading into the pink sunset. The views on a clear day in Santa Monica are truly breath-taking – do make the trip down the pier to watch the sun go down, you will not regret it. We stroll back to The Lobster and are shown to our seat overlooking the sea and pier which now, after dark, is an array of twinkling lights. The food at the Lobster is divine, so fresh and unique with unusual pairings of tastes and textures; my review will be coming soon. After dinner, we detour to Beverley Hills and stop for a quick drink at the famous Beverly Wiltshire, famed for its appearance in the movie Pretty Woman. Staggering back to my room, full of food and champagne, I manage to resist the call of music from the roof terrace bar but, as it turns out, not for long.
Day three is all about shopping and sightseeing. I head over the Hollywood & Highland Centre for a spot of retail therapy at Sephora and Victoria Secrets. The centre is on the famous Hollywood Boulevard and, after my shopping binge, go to look at the Hollywood greats celebrated on the Walk of Fame. This is a tourist hot spot so be prepared to be gently harassed and, if you do take a photo of the characters on the Boulevard, expect to be asked for a tip. After fulfilling my tourist obligation by photographing everything from the Kodak Theatre to the Hollywood sign, I make my way to The Strip for my dinner reservation. Famed for its steak, the Strip is a traditional restaurant with impeccable table service; I opted for a prime New York steak which was cooked to perfection, but I was very sad that I could not fit in dessert as they had Key Lime Pie, an American favourite of mine.
Back in my hotel room, I change into my glamorous backless Maxi dress and head to the roof to try schmoozing LA style. The bar is a hotspot for celeb spotting, film industry networking and cocktail quaffing while the DJ plays chillout mixes, creating a very cool vibe on the roof.
After taking a seat and ordering my first cocktail, I notice how different the roof feels after dark; you are surrounded by the city lights of the skyscrapers, the moonlight bounces off the glass and the open fire on the roof adds another dimension of glamour. My drink arrives and I get talking to the gentlemen sitting next to me, both Angelenos; they are in awe of my British accent and it only dawns on me about an hour into our conversation that one of the gentlemen is a famous comedy actor. It seems no one is starstuck in LA; people are so used to seeing celebrities that no one pays much attention. After more cocktails and schmoozing I decide to call it a night, but I feel a warm glow at having rubbed shoulders with many celebs and found them thoroughly charming.
Day four is my last full day in LA so we arrange an amazing leaving dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant at The Ritz Carlton, WP24, with pre-dinner cocktails at the JWMarriott LA Live, where the outdoor bar is very funky with leather and wicker furniture and private spaces in tents for chilling out with friends (or lovers). After some very strong Patron cocktails, we head to WP24. I am a Wolfgang aficionado, having enjoyed his food at a few of his restaurants around the US, but I was especially excited about eating at WP24 for its breathtaking views of LA. We have a great seat facing the panoramic windows, which overlook LA from Downtown to the Hollywood sign, and I am so taken by the view that I have not even considered my cocktail choice when the waitress turns up to take our order. The scrumptious Oriental fusion food at WP24 was the highlight of my stay and you can read about this soon too.
Day Five means the return of Lady C to beloved London. I spend the morning gift shopping, from American chocolate to tourist tat, fitting everything I bought in LA in to my case was a feat in itself! On leaving The Standard, the staff wish me a pleasant flight and I think what a unique hotel; I will be back, in the words of California’s Governor. Once in my First Class seat, with bottomless champagne, I realise that LA is not at all what I expected; fabulous not fake, friendly not stuck up, a definite home from home.
The Downtown Standard
550 South Flower at Sixth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
United States of America