Los Angeles is a tough city. You need to be in the business to mean business as the saying goes. If you’re not an agent, celebrity or musician then no one has an interest in you. It’s a hard town to love unless you find the LA I finally found after many years of visiting.
Let’s start by where to stay. The Beverly Hills Hotel and Peninsula are all very nice but regardless of what you pay for a room you are just are not that special there unless you are an A-lister. And trust me both properties have their share of A-list talent. So do as I do and hang out in the hip city of Santa Monica. It’s really close to the airport, a quick drive to anywhere in the city and it is a lot of fun. Plus it is way less precious.
Santa Monica has a vibe. Yes everyone still looks fit and beautiful but it has a charm that’s lacking on Sunset Strip or Rodeo Drive. The Viceroy is pure trend, it reminds me of the Sanderson in London with all the crowd that wants to be seen. However The Viceroy is on the beach and is really at its heart a nice boutique hotel. Shutters on the Beach is nearby and it is the perfect way to spend a Long lazy lunch. Seated outside you feel like you are eating at a hotel in Cannes. Their Mediterranean-inspired food is great and nice and health. The restaurant is not really that expensive compared to the overall experience. It provides a great value for money.
Another favorite of mine is the Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey. This is right next to Santa Monica and even closer to LAX. It feels like a little oasis in greater LA. I know this place extremely well as my agent Kathy lives around the block and we have had many meetings there with a view over the harbour and all of the expensive boats. It has a great bar and a fantastic club level where drinks are served all day with really fabulous canapés. The pool is lovely and every room has a balcony. It never feels crowded and has the appeal of traditional Ritz Carlton hospitality. They even offer a courtesy car that will take you to restaurants in downtown Santa Monica and pick you up.
Now LA has more to offer than the Hollywood crowd. It has a brilliant Asian flair. I find it hard to get authentic Thai and Korean food in many US cities but LA has it all. The one place you just have to go for dinner is Koreatown. I could not believe how extensive and huge it was. I never knew this side of LA existed but it is filled with restaurant after restaurant of authentic Korean cuisine. It is hot and for good reason.
Downtown LA has had a facelift in the past few years and that makes it feel revitalized and fun. It used to be a little rough and the hotels were dated but now it is quickly becoming the place to be. New hip restaurants are opening monthly and it is drawing in the ‘in’ crowd. It is definitely worth exploring.
I know it’s a cliché to say that you love or hate LA but the truth be told LA can be a great destination if you know what to see and what to avoid. It’s like any big city it has its ups and downs, and its highs and lows. For me though, if you curate your time properly LA can be a great place to relax, indulge and be inspired so that you can write your own LA story.
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.