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T&L Downtown: Up High at L.A.'s Skybar

Welcome to Los Angeles. Are you cool? Serenely suave? You'll fit right in.

Located in the Mondrian Hotel, Skybar is a simple, open-air hut offering a panoramic view of Los Angeles and Los Angelenos.

Reticence is the theme. You may even overshoot the hotel itself as Sunset Boulevard curves past. Once you make it inside the Mondrian and wander among the glowing, eerie light installations by artist James Turrell, finding the entrance to the Skybar (an unassuming walkway) requires patience.

If you're jaded by the technology, the Skybar is the antithesis of modern civilization — with a few exceptions. A corrugated tin roof supported by logs gives Skybar an openness, offset by the dark wood Philippe Starck furniture, inspired by 40s office pieces. Skybar bills itself as an urban oasis; it does feel like you are at an upscale bungalow near the beach.

And, true to an oasis, there's a body of water. Wander past Skybar into the pool area, lean back into one of the teak chaise lounges and gaze at the L.A. skyline.

This rooftop outpost hosts a dream Hollywood crowd of A-list celebrities and movie execs, as well as hotel guests. In a nod to the high level of service in old supper clubs, a cigarette girl roams, selling cigars and cigarettes. Feel like blending in with the crowd?Order one of the three most popular cocktails: Lemon Drops, Cosmopolitans and Martinis. Despite the relaxed elegance, concessions are made to practicality. I looked at my vodka gimlet goblet, and noticed that all the drinks are served in plastic cups — useful if you are drinking in and around the pool, but not as classy sitting by the bar.

According to manager Jon Beatty, the rhythm at Skybar feels like this: open from 11 a.m, with a mostly hotel crowd...then 5 p.m. is happy hour... it's busy until 8 p.m. There's an ebb until 10:30 until 2, with the peak social scene around 1a.m. At 10 p.m. on this Friday night, music is geared towards the beach bum (think: Desmond Dekker's "You Can Get It If You Really Want").

The surroundings and the very international crowd make me feel like I'm on vacation. Chess table?Backgammon?I don't care. Candlelight glows and rain threatens, but I am protected by protective canopies of plastic and gauze. Can't wait to return on a nice day, coverings from the bar removed, Lemon Drop in hand — if they'll have me.

Hints and tips for Skybar
"How do I get in?" is the most frequently asked question outside the Skybar. Our suggestions:

  • Call to make a reservation for dinner — food's served until 9 p.m.
  • Get there early
  • Try 'Refreshing Honesty' at the door. Say, "I'm visiting from far away..."
  • Stay at the Mondrian; its guests have access to Skybar
  • Don't kill the bouncer. Jon notes, "A woman [who couldn't get in] tried to run me down at the door with her BMW."

Skybar
8440 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90069 310/650-8999

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