To keep our inventory of insider city tips fresh and shiny, we regularly ask our style-spotting spies to report back from their trips with the latest travel news and views. Here, magician-slash-comedian-slash-hotel-reviewer Chris Cox shares his learnings from La-La Land and reveals how to live like a big-shot (Edinburgh Festival) star in Los Angeles…
LA, the home of Hollywood, of movie stars and year-round sunshine. A recent jaunt there gave me the chance to spend a January morning lying by a pool, an afternoon seeing Beverly Hills stars head towards the Golden Globes, and an evening eating like an A-lister. I was there to film a pilot for a new TV show, and used that as an excuse to give you beautiful people the scoop on how to feel like a megastar when you visit that starriest of States, California.
The first thing you need to do is to arrive like a star. It’s a 10-hour flight from the UK, so choose the most comfortable/sexiest airline you can. From London Heathrow, I reckon that’s Air New Zealand. They fly direct every day; you can order food and drink whenever you want from your seat via your TV screen (which also gives you power and an iPod connection so you can watch your own stuff); their in-flight concierge will give you tips on what to do when you land; and there are even windows in the bathrooms. Surely only superstars have a pee looking down over the Grand Canyon?
Top tip If your lack of movie-star budget nixes Business Premier and its mega-comfy lie-flat beds, book you and your Mrs Smith into Premium Economy’s award-winning Spaceseats. Opt for the central aisle if you want to snuggle up together watching films or dine across a shared table as you cross the Atlantic.
I know I arrived like a star because I spotted two of them on the plane with me; like them, once you arrive, you’ll want to check into a showbiz Hollywood hotel and go for the first of many amazing meals. Wherever you eat in LA, you’ll be surrounded by actors; they’ll be the ones serving you.
Chateau Marmont has a restaurant that’s every bit as glamorous as its starry hotel clientele; Spotted Pig star chef Carolynn Spence turns out imaginative Med-infused Californian haute cuisine. You can also people-watch while you eat at the buzzy poolside restaurant during the day.
Jack n’ Jills on North Beverly Drive (+1 310 247 4500) is a cute little lunch spot that does huge sandwiches, salads and moreish sweet potato fries; get some of their great cookies to go, too. As I left, the paps were lined up outside; much to my disappointment they were waiting for someone showbiz to arrive.
Urth Caffé (+1 310 659 0628). You’ll find a few of these across town but the West Hollywood one on 8,565 Melrose Ave is another hip lunch-and-coffee spot. The guys in Entourage were always going to this small Design District café, and there’s a good reason why. Tasty organic coffee, awesome breakfasts, healthy lunches and the chance to sit in the sun whilst snacking and star-spotting.
Katsuya (+1 323 871 8777). They started with one, all the stars visited, and now they’ve ended up with four in LA alone. The one on 6,300 Hollywood Boulevard is where it’s at though (right). The Philippe Starck interior design makes you swoon while the dynamic Japanese menu is like foreplay for your tastebuds. Try the cocktails and the signature crispy rice with spicy tuna: you’ll never forget it.
The Ivy at 113 North Robertson (+1 310 274 8303) – it’s an institution. All the agents in town take their clients here for dinner and lunch, so it’s the place to network. Sure, you’ll find more exciting food elsewhere, but there is nowhere better to see and be seen. Try to get a seat on the terrace.
Gordon Ramsey at The London, West Hollywood (+1 310 358 7788). Us Brits love invading LA, and Mr Ramsey is no exception. He stays true to his fresh, seasonal, local and simple rules, offering classic dining with an LA twist. If you don’t want to splash the cash, try his Boxwood Café instead: breakfast, brunch or lunch, done.
Be sure to get yourself involved in the pool scene during the day and at night jump into the LA bar scene. The sunset strip is worth hitting: start off at Bar Marmont, next to the Chateau Marmont hotel, for cocktails and a bit to eat, then cross the road and head to the rooftop bar at The Standard Hollywood, where models are in Perspex boxes and you can sit on a vibrating waterbed. Then finish your night at Skybar at the Mondrian, where you can check out the Hollywood hotties and admire the amazing views of the LA skyline. Probably best to take a photo: you’ll forget it all by the time you’ve shifted the hangover the next morning.
4 STAY LIKE A STAR
Cross James Bond bachelor chic, mid-century modern architecture and acid-bright pop-culture wit, and you get The Standard Downtown LA. With one of the coolest bars in LA, baths big enough for basketball players, and on-the-money decor that cries out to be a Sixties-era film set, this boutique hotel is a big hit in the city’s night scene.
For a taste of classic Hollywood high life, you can’t go wrong with Chateau Marmont. The arts and crafts ‘castle on the hill’ is the epitome of all that’s great and good about tinseltown: glamorous, cool and utterly captivating.
The Thompson Beverly Hills brings a dash of East Coast sophistication to the heart of LA. It’s like the backdrop to a Helmut Newton photograph – all dark-toned 1970s-style and black-leather accessories.