T+L's Definitive Guide to Los Angeles
Published: March 2013
By David A. Keeps
Los Angeles has evolved into a stylish collection of urban enclaves, each with its own personality—not to mention to-die-for shopping, art, eating, and, yes, stargazing.
Lay of the Land
Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood still draw shoppers and sightseers, but a new generation of talented young transplants has helped transform Hollywood and Downtown into exciting and navigable playgrounds.
The Beach: Venice has the canals. Santa Monica, the shopping (we’re partial to Montana Avenue). Malibu, the legendary beaches with low-key fish-fry shacks.
Beverly Hills: The 90210 has more luxury emporiums than any other U.S. zip code.
Culver City: This once industrial neighborhood is now a thriving design district.
Mid-City: Come here for the shopping meccas of Melrose and La Brea, the Farmers’ Market, and the museums on Wilshire Boulevard.
Hollywood: Tacky-touristy by day, the formerly seedy neighborhood blossoms after dark thanks to high-design hotels and nightclubs.
Silver Lake and Echo Park: Head to this area for local fashion, vintage shops, and the best music venue, the Echoplex.
Downtown: A loft boom and new hotels (the Ace Downtown is expected in fall 2013) have fueled a sophisticated foodie scene.
Video: Things to Do in Los Angeles
Seeking a beach escape? Or a Beverly Hills hideaway? L.A. has a hotel for every type of traveler.
Fashion photographer Matthew Rolston curated the design of Hollywood’s The Redbury, adding English upholstery and Suzani bedspreads. $$
At the new W Hollywood, you’ll find shiny white minimalism in a steel-and-glass complex. $$
The Philippe Starck–designed SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills houses chef José Andrés’s equally imaginative Bazaar. $$$
Just steps from Rodeo Drive, the Montage Beverly Hills has a courtyard setting that pays homage to Mediterranean architecture. $$$$
On the Beach
Built using only sustainable materials, the Shore Hotel is outfitted with glass showers that look out over the ocean. $$
Cape Cod style reigns at Shutters on the Beach, with interiors by the Obamas’ decorator, Michael S. Smith. $$$$
The Art Deco Sunset Tower Hotel has killer city views and an A-list clientele. $$
A hideaway for L.A.’s hip set, Chateau Marmont evokes the noir glamour of Sunset Boulevard. $$$
From the pink exterior to garden bungalows, the Beverly Hills Hotel is a longtime celebrity favorite. $$$$
The stylish new Hotel Wilshire includes a sceney restaurant run by Iron Chef contestant Eric Greenspan. $$
Beige tones are the standard at L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, a five-star addition to the Viceroy Hotels Group. $$$$
The 1946 Hotel Bel Air was just revamped by designer Alexandra Champalimaud and the Rockwell Group. $$$$
Renovated rooms at the Four Seasons at Beverly Hills have private terraces and marble baths. $$$$
Indulge in unsurpassed elegance in a whitewashed mansion at the Peninsula Beverly Hills. $$$$
Hotel Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000
A neighborhood guide to shopping—don’t forget your wallet.
Minnie Mortimer gives East Coast prep a kicked-back California breeziness with shirtwaist dresses and beachy striped tops at the Mini Shop. Nearby is Brentwood Country Mart, a warren of food stalls and shops by stylish clothiers including dressmaker Jenni Kayne, designer James Perse, and queen of Indian prints Roberta Freymann.
Trend-setting jewelry, custom fragrances, international housewares—there’s always something intriguing on Venice’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard. We love the luxe leather bags at Kendall Conrad (No. 1121), the Danish and Swedish furniture at Huset (No. 1316 1/2), Linus Bikes’ (No. 1413 1/2) French-style city cruisers, and ChocoVivo (No. 1504) for stone-ground dark chocolate.
Known for surf/skate brands, the stretch of La Brea Avenue between First and Second Streets has the latest arrivals: Kelly Cole (175 S. La Brea Ave.) sells classic rock T-shirts and unique collector’s items, and housewares shop A+R (171 S. La Brea Ave.) is a great source for modern lighting and furniture. The main attraction is Shelter Half (161 S. La Brea Ave.), where you’ll find only U.S.-made goods, from Save Khaki men’s apparel to Olmay Home accessories.
Some of the world’s most coveted premium jeans are produced in industrial neighborhoods just outside Los Angeles. Now downtown L.A.’s Den.m Bar (111 W. Seventh St., suite R3) lets men and women customize their own. The bespoke pants are so popular that customers are encouraged to book an appointment. While in the building, check out Buttons & Bows (suite R11), a vintage shop opened by Bob Marley’s daughter Karen.
See + Do
Four simple—and classic—pursuits in the City of Angels.
Go for a nighttime top-down drive on winding Mulholland Drive, from Interstate 405 to Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Take in the magical lights of the city and the San Fernando Valley.
Hike through Griffith Park. Start at the Los Angeles Zoo and head to Griffith Observatory, made famous by Rebel Without a Cause. Stop at Trails Café ($$) for lunch.
The hottest new tables in L.A. dish up a meaty selection of fusion cuisines.
A-Frame: In a former IHOP, Roy Choi of Kogi food-truck fame recently opened this lively ski-chalet-style restaurant, serving up such inventive dishes as beer-marinated crispy chicken with kimchi and two salsas. 12565 Washington Blvd. $$
Bottega Louie: You’ll swear that the Parisian patisserie Ladurée had launched in L.A. when you walk into Bottega Louie. The restaurant is a morning pastry shop and market, lunchtime café, and all-day dining room decked out in white marble and gilded French antiques. Go for the perfect pizzas, pastas, and mâche with chicken—and macarons. 700 S. Grand Ave. $$$
Ink: Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio takes an arty approach to food, piling sugar-snap peas up like a Jenga puzzle surrounded by nitrogen-cooled coconut. A penchant for molecular gastronomy doesn’t distract from triumphs such as egg-yolk gnocchi, but does make Ink as serious as its sexy, all-gray space. 8360 Melrose Ave. $$$
Umamicatessen: L.A.’s craze for gourmet ground beef has pushed the delectable Umami into the forefront with 12 SoCal locations. Its latest success combines 11 types of burgers, classic deli sandwiches, pork treats, and fried-to-order German chocolate doughnuts. 852 S. Broadway. $$
Sotto and Picca: Stacked atop one another in a New York–style town house, these two restaurants couldn’t be more different. Sotto specializes in Italian-accented cocktails and Neapolitan pizzas. Upstairs, Picca is run by Ricardo Zarate, a trained sushi chef who incorporates his Peruvian roots and the region’s tangy ají amarillo pepper into small plates that are even more delicious than they are gorgeous. 9575 W. Pico Blvd. $$$
Tar & Roses: This boisterous gastropub in Santa Monica focuses on farm-to-table vegetable dishes such as wood-roasted peas with mint, plus charcuterie and plates of rib-sticking braised lamb belly. 602 Santa Monica Blvd. $$
Want to spot a celebrity? Nightlife impresario and VIP events producer Bryan Rabin tells T+L where to find them.
Have breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Fountain Coffee Room or lunch at the hotel’s Polo Lounge.
Pretend not to notice regular Jon Hamm at Little Dom’s, in Los Feliz. Other star supper haunts: Il Covo, Bouchon in Beverly Hills, and Tower Bar at Sunset Tower Hotel.
Sip late-night drinks in the living room at Chateau Marmont.
Mingle with the fashion crowd on the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel, in Beverly Hills.
Shop at Fred Segal on Melrose or Kitson and Chanel on Robertson Boulevard, and search for vintage finds at the weekend Malibu Country Mart.
Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150
Three Angelenos share their favorite places in the city.
Executive chef, Ray’s & Stark Bar
A Drink: La Descarga (1159 N. Western Ave.; $$) is a bar with an Old Havana vibe and a major focus on agave and tequila.
Inspiring Architecture: LACMA is one of my go-to spots.
President & CEO, J. Paul Getty Trust
A Good Read: Santa Monica’s Diesel, a Bookstore (225 26th St.) has a well-curated selection.
Exercise: I bike the Pacific Coast Highway. The light and views are restorative.
Actress, producer, star and co-writer of Celeste and Jesse Forever
Where I Go For...
A Light Lunch: The Vietnamese dishes at the low-key Gingergrass (2396 Glendale Blvd.; $$), in Silver Lake, are always delicious.
The Basics: Broome Street General Store (2912 Rowena Ave.) sells the best of everything—artisanal coffee; toothpaste; organic beauty products.
A Relaxing Afternoon: Raven Spa (2910 Rowena Ave.) gives wonderful traditional Thai massages.
Along with the Getty, MoCA, and LACMA, check out these venues.
Culver City: More than three dozen contemporary art galleries are packed into an easy-to-stroll triangle.
Downtown Art Walk: Don’t miss this monthly event that showcases new painting and photography by emerging artists.
Bergamot Station: In an eight-acre industrial tract, 40-plus galleries and shops display anime, sculpture, and more.