This Beautifully Designed Hotel Just Opened in a 1920s Building in Downtown L.A.

Hotel Per La opened in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 21 in the former Bank of Italy headquarters.

Los Angeles is an enigma to those unfamiliar with its vastness. A hotel by the beach surely tempts visitors, or one on Sunset Boulevard, with billboard views touting Emmy-winning shows and bar patios full of revelers. But if you ask a local where to stay in L.A., they’ll likely point you to downtown Los Angeles; perhaps even to Hotel Per La, which officially opened to guests on Sept. 21 in DTLA.

The reception at Hotel Per La

The Ingalls/Courtesy of Hotel Per La

Built in 1922 as the Bank of Italy headquarters, the grand 12-story structure now home to Hotel Per La retains stunning features of its original self, from the marble and plaster façade to the golden-coffered ceiling inside its ground-floor salon. The team behind the hotel – HN Capital Partners and Sage Hospitality Group – does not take their good fortune lightly. When alterations needed to be made, they were done thoughtfully, in order to honor the building’s history, the vibrancy of Los Angeles itself, and the aim to offer an incredible guest experience.

The empty lobby and a woman walking through the mirror tunnel at Hotel Per La

The Ingalls/Courtesy of Hotel Per La

A centralized and whimsical entry is among larger changes. Olive trees and other flora, in pots designed by local artist Jill Spector, line the front sidewalk on Olive Street and lead guests to a doorman, who is meant to be a conduit from the neighborhood to the property – a human touch-point at every turn is part of the team’s hospitality mission. Through the doors, guests enter a tiled room with a grand banquette sofa and water feature before turning into a glimmering mirrored tunnel. It’s a lovely surprise, a reminder that you’ve entered a world of its own: Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole to Wonderland, but in L.A. 

A woman walking through Per L'ora at Hotel Per La

The Ingalls/Courtesy of Hotel Per La

Once past the mirrored walk, guests must turn left or right. To the left is a moody gaming parlor, where cheeky artwork depicts card play and nods to banking. Beyond that is a lounge that lines the length of the grand parlor – an ideal place to appreciate the original ceiling here. A bar and adjacent dining room make up brand-new restaurant Per L’Ora, officially open on Sept. 21 as well. The menu here is “Los Angeles Italian,” says Jordan Nova, general manager of food and beverage for the hotel.

Interior of Per L'ora at Hotel Per La

The Ingalls/Courtesy of Hotel Per La

“We’re connecting to the Italian roots with our design, and with our menu, but we also understand that we’re in this really rich area of Los Angeles, with so many cultural intersections," continues Nova. "So we’re creating this sense of Italian comfort, using Italian technique and recipes, and we’re still inspired by the cultural richness of L.A. And those local notes are more about culture than produce.”

Also off the grand salon is Cafe Ora, a coffee shop of brass and mirrors where products by L.A. makers will be offered. Nova hopes locals will love this showcasing of talent as much as out-of-towners, sort of an edible map of greater Los Angeles, with chocolates from Valerie Confections (Echo Park) and raw protein bars by Papa Steve’s (Culver City). Coffee beans used behind the bar will also represent the city, the first two roasters being LAMill (Silver Lake) and Laidrey (Tarzana).

A table set in the Courtyard at Hotel Per La

The Ingalls/Courtesy of Hotel Per La

Back at the mirrored tunnel, overnight guests turn right and into a reimagined lobby. A plaster, semi-circular check-in desk designed by Katrien Van der Schueren of Voila! Creative Studio in L.A.’s Mid-City neighborhood invites guests to sit while their room keys are secured. Textiles in the background were painted by local abstractionist Jessalyn Brooks. 

On the levels above are beautifully appointed rooms by Jacques Garcia, who designed them for the NoMad Hotel, which opened here in 2018 then closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. The Hotel Per La team didn’t see much need for improvement here; custom furnishings, vintage rugs and a 4,000-piece art collection curated by Saint-Lazare make each accommodation unique, home-like, and fun to explore. 

“Every finish is thoughtful,” says general manager Adam Sydenham, as he points to heavy brass knobs and beautiful wallpaper, even inside closets. “The quality of the rooms is just superb; opulent, but comfortable as well.”

The most opulent choice of them all is the Amadeo Suite, named for Bank of Italy founder Amadeo Gianni. The suite measures 1,300 square feet and includes a library/den, a dining room, a kitchenette, a living room, and a bedroom. Every room and suite has a specially stocked minibar, where the team again highlights local products, including snacks from Bearclaw Kitchen, bottled cocktails by Drnxmyth, and CBD chocolates via Calilove.

The game room at Hotel Per La

The Ingalls/Courtesy of Hotel Per La

And just above the 12th floor is Hotel Per La’s enviable rooftop pool deck, harkening to Italian shores with potted citrus and olive trees, and a formidable gargoyle at the pool’s end. But the jewel of the roof is surely Bar Clara, where chef Courtney Van Dyke delights diners with a menu of Mediterranean-leaning bites, from whipped feta and honey with lavash to tinned sardines and skewered prawns. Guests can pair their meal with a cocktail by beloved downtown bar maestro Coleen Morton; she’s “tapped the rainbow,” per Nova, with a number of colorful spritz drinks perfect for a poolside rendezvous. An abstract mural that wraps the bar – also by Jessalyn Brooks – celebrates the female form and nods to the building's namesake: Clara Giannini, the first woman to sit on the board of a major financial institution. 

And while there’s plenty to enjoy right here at Hotel Per La, the team certainly hopes visitors will explore the surroundings as well. Historic sites like Grand Central Market and Angel’s Flight are within walking distance, as are concert venues like The Orpheum Theater. And the 7th Street Metro station is nearby, should further-flung stops be on the itinerary. Then, it’s back to the hotel for a game, a drink, and a meal – or all three.

Rooms at Hotel Per La begin at $325 per night, and you can book your stay here.

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