This LA Hotel Was a Safe-haven for Female Solo Travelers in the 1920s — and It Still Carries on That Legacy Today
Advertised as "an ideal stopping point for ladies unattended," Hotel Figueroa originally opened in 1926 as a safe haven for solo female travelers. White it's difficult to imagine today, women were prohibited from checking into most hotels without a male chaperone. The hotel, created by the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), was financed, built, and operated by women, the largest commercial building funded by women at that time.
Maude Bouldin, the first female managing director of a hotel in the United States, is said to have arrived for her job at the Hotel Figueroa after crossing the U.S. on her motorcycle. The large portrait of Bouldin in the hotel lobby confirms her attachment to that mode of transportation, although she also flew airplanes. Vintage photographs of Bouldin and early residents of the hotel hang throughout the property, providing a fascinating look at its past. From its beginning, Hotel Figueroa has served as a meeting place for Los Angeles women's clubs as well as a location for press conferences and political rallies in support of women's rights and social issues.
Today, Hotel Figueroa continues to be a champion for women with its Featured Artist Series, showcasing the works of local independent female artists with rotating art exhibitions and special events throughout the year. Currently, Los Angeles-based visual artist Shyama Golden is the 2021 featured artist, with her year-long residency set to debut on March 20. Golden's art "evokes the evolving notions of femininity and how these are experienced, performed, and reinforced through art and society" and offers "an immersive world where the mundane collides with the fantastical."
Previous featured artists have included last year's Stephanie DeAngelis whose collection was tied to "spiritually connecting folks from all walks of life in these times of social isolation" and Sophie Kipner who sold 18 of her popular original works. The program also includes an exclusive shoppable Hotel Figueroa collection featured on Society6.com.
With its yearly rotation of female artists, visual reminders of the past in its vintage photographs, and even its colorful exterior design created by local muralist Bella Gomez, Hotel Figueroa demonstrates its support for women in the arts and creative fields. Its history of strong women and community involvement continues in its largely female staff and managing director Connie Wang, who was instrumental in transforming the hotel into an official polling place last October.
Once a haven for independent women travelers, the Hotel Figueroa today welcomes all visitors to its thoughtfully recreated guest rooms, suites, and public spaces. A recent two-year renovation restored the hotel's 1926 Spanish Colonial style, and its coffin-shaped pool, Veranda restaurant, and Bar Figueroa are popular additions to its dynamic Los Angeles neighborhood.