La La Land…Los Angeles
‘Welcome to Hollywood. What’s your dream?’ Pretty Woman, 1990
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write this post, we went to Los Angeles during the February half-term last year after a few days in Vegas. I thought as seen as it’s coming close to a year since I visited I better get this post finished and moved out of my Drafts once and for all.
Read more about what I got up to in Las Vegas in this post on what to do if you’re a first timer and also if you’re planning on road-tripping between LA and Vegas then this one on how to do it will help you out.
I had so many plans on what I wanted to squeeze in during our few days and talked about it at length with the friends we were doing the trip with but ultimately knew we wouldn’t have time to do everything so had to be very selective so here’s what made the cut!
Home to our home for the next few nights, the Four Seasons (not the Beverly Wilshire from Pretty Woman unfortunately but near enough) After our drive from Vegas we pulled up on its luxurious driveway in our Mustang, the valet opened our door and we were just about to get away with looking awesome and like we may just fit in…but then our road trip essentials of bags of cheesy puffs and the remains of our In N’ Out burger stop fell out before we did. There were four of us with luggage squeezed into the car and it had been a long drive so I think they understood the struggle, or were of course too polite to say anything.
We were promptly checked in and shown to our beautiful rooms, however we didn’t want to spend too much time in them as we had a date with a steak to get to. The concierge had told us about an amazing steak restaurant that we had to try and as it was our first night she suggested not heading too far from the hotel and getting a lift in the Four Seasons house car. We of course agreed and went down to wait in the lobby, we were chatting away keeping a look out for the Prius that would pick us up and suddenly the boys went quiet. Turning round I realised why they had suddenly gone silent, the Four Seasons house car isn’t a Prius, how could it be?! It’s a Rolls Royce, a phantom no less. We would be travelling in a Rolls Royce to a restaurant less than 2miles away (the house car will take you anywhere and pick you up again within a 3.2mile radius of the hotel) Yes! I had arrived. Thank-you Hollywood, this is my dream.
The steak, how could I forget?! It was sublime but then of course I would expect so at Maestro’s Steakhouse as they have been serving steak and spinach to the L.A crowd for years and the restaurant is popular with just about everyone in the city.
Everything was perfection from the service to the wine choices and turning up in the Rolls was just the icing on our butter cake that is another Maestro’s special you have to try. That’s if you have enough room for desert.
On our first full day we took the car over to Venice Beach and hoped we’d be able to park somewhere nearby. Our plan was simple, brunch on the boardwalk and then just mooch around taking it all in with visits to Muscle Beach and the canals. Our brunch stop was the superb Fig Tree Cafe, where we enjoyed a prime boardwalk seat and were able to do some serious people watching in the sunshine whilst waiting for our organic eggs.
We then took a stroll up and down the boardwalk, popped in the quirky shops and took photos at Muscle Beach. We carried on up into the canals area and got some serious house envy by looking into the canal-side properties where we imagined all manner of rich and famous people must of course spend their time when not filming/shopping/going out.
After Venice Beach we headed straight for the Hollywood Hills with the hope of getting a good look at the infamous sign. We parked for free at the Griffith Observatory but didn’t actually go inside (we were on a tight schedule!) and instead made it just a brief photo stop before heading back down into Hollywood and enjoying some drinks and nibbles at La Poubelle Bistro on Franklin Avenue opposite the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre, so if you’re lucky (or not) you may just see Tom Cruise or John Travolta in the area.
After a quick re-fresh back at the hotel, we then hopped in an Uber back into Hollywood. There really is no need to concern yourself with public transport in L.A as the use of Uber is so widespread and popular across the city and of course offers real value over any taxi on the same journey. Our Uber dropped us at Jitlada on West Sunset Boulevard, a favourite amongst celebrities for its authentic Thai cuisine and for one night only us lot from London. As there were a number of us, we ordered a decent amount from the menu and could barely move after clearing our plates.
We did move and thank goodness we did otherwise I would not have gotten to go to possibly the coolest place I have ever been. No Vacancy, on North Hudson Avenue looks like a ram-shackled dive bar from the front, however once you get past the bouncers and make your way up an old staircase where you must choose which door you want to enter through. Luckily the door we chose opened into what looked like a French boudoir complete with hostess that looked like she’d stepped off the Moulin Rouge stage whom casually pressed a button to reveal a staircase and encouraged us to go on ahead. I was already impressed, I love a bit of theatre and the entrance to No Vacancy did not disappoint, neither did the rest of the bar as once you come down the stair you realise you are in an old Victorian house that has now been converted into a prohibition style drinking establishment except it’s huge. As well as a large inside area the outside garden is just as impressive and you could easily lose your whole night here, the cocktails are perfection, the DJ plays decent music and everyone just looks effortlessly chic. You may also feel a bit out of place as they all look like models and actors but you are in L.A so ‘when in Rome’ as they say.
You can’t come to L.A and not have at least a window shop on Rodeo Drive, plus I hadn’t seen any celebrities yet so I figured this would be my best chance. After looking in almost every expensive shop and dreaming about winning the lottery our tummies started to rumble and we were just about to think about looking for a place to eat when lo and behold we spied our first celebrity in Hollywood none other than our own British and proud James Corden! We introduced ourselves thinking he may like to hear a familiar accent, he was lovely but looked genuinely busy so we left to it and went in search of lunch. Worried that lunch options surrounding Rodeo Drive may match the prices of the clothes we began to become disheartened however we needn’t have worried as we found 208 Rodeo Restaurant just across from the Wilshire that was perfect for us and didn’t mean we would need to re-mortgage our non-existent homes back in the U.K.
We waved good-bye to our friends who were continuing their road-trip to San Francisco and hopped in an Uber for some shopping that was more within our price-range.
After spying the Grove area en-route to our breakfast outing at Republique earlier in the morning, I knew I wanted to come back and check out the shops. The Grove isn’t a shopping centre or mall as such but more like an open shopping village with a fountain in the middle and farmers market, bars and restaurants next-door. We spent a good few hours here buying up what we knew would be more expensive at home; make-up and skin-care for me and Abercrombie for the other half. I finally ran into another celebrity; pint-sized pooch Jiff-Pom who looks more like a toy than a real dog which is why he is probably so famous! Seriously look him up – this dog has more followers on Instagram than most human celebs.
That night we opted for Italian at the small but perfectly formed Angelini Osteria, on Beverly Boulevard for a romantic dinner for two. We headed back to our new hotel after dinner as something special was going on in Hollywood that made it worth while.
Our final few nights in Los Angeles were to be spent at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel right in the thick of it on Hollywood Boulevard, I’d chosen the hotel for its history of famous star connections and for the fact that some of them apparently haunt the building. More recently the Hotel has returned to its heyday with new bars, restaurants and appearances in TV shows such as Entourage. For Oscars week (coincidentally coincided with our visit) the hotel had been turned into the E! Network studio so everywhere was buzzing with staff getting things ready, making it all very exciting.
Outside the Hotel, the preparations had already begun weeks earlier and the Boulevard had become home to the red carpet and press areas outside the famous Dolby and Chinese Theatres. Could this be any more Hollywood?! I was in heaven, I spent an age looking at every single hand and foot print outside Graumans Chinese Theatre and walked down the Boulevard making sure I stopped to look at my favourite stars on the Walk on the Fame. I even stood on the Red Carpet, well I stood on the plastic that covered the Red Carpet in the atrium of the Dolby Theatre so I feel that counts.
Have you ever been to Los Angeles? Was it everything you expected? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading.Standing on those steps, looking at the boards that list every Oscar winning film since the Academy Awards began really made my Hollywood Dreams come true. When can I go back and do it all and more again?!