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travel tips

WEST HOLLYWOOD: AN INSIDER’S GUIDE


When in LA, stylists, designers, and creatives in-the-know land in West Hollywood– the darling of the international design community. Called an “incubator of creativity” by Architectural Digest, the city of West Hollywood is a draw to the more discerning travelers seeking the best in luxe home goods, cutting-edge fashion and noteworthy dining experiences in impeccably designed spaces.

Spanning just under two miles, WeHo, as it is affectionately referred to by locals, is jam-packed with exquisite galleries, chic cafes, and sophisticated boutiques. While new hot spots are ever changing and evolving, the Chateau Marmont and other landmarks of old Hollywood lore remain constant, with just as much mystique as ever. The best way to delve into all that West Hollywood has to offer is by foot, where you can wander into lush corridors and hidden boutiques tucked away behind immaculate foliage and admire exquisite architectural details in the Spanish Revival style.

Whether you’re visiting LA for the first time or have been a long time resident, here are our insider tips to dig into this captivating pocket of Los Angeles that has taken the global fashion and design community by storm.


WHY GO TO WEST HOLLYWOOD

It’s the epicenter of design, art, and fashion.

Whether it’s furniture or antique shopping in the West Hollywood Design District or gallery hopping along Melrose and La Cienega, the dynamic creative energy in West Hollywood is unrivalled. Just ask Alexandra von Furstenberg (daughter of the famed DVF), who set her namesake furniture showroom in this “epicenter of creativity and innovation”. There is so much to enjoy visually, even if you aren’t in the market for celebrity decorators. Stop by Rose Tarlow’s Melrose House (8540 Melrose Ave) and you’ll get an immediate glimpse of why her keen eye for antiques has been commissioned by LA luminaries David Geffen and Eli and Edythe Broad, among others. On the other end of the design spectrum, wander into Martin Lawrence Bullard’s “high glam explosion” of a showroom (8550 Melrose Ave) and swoon at the handblown glass Italian chandeliers hung from intricate gold foil ceilings and see why he’s the decorator of choice for Cher, Elton John, and all 3 Kardashian sisters.

Old Hollywood Culture

Former Columbia Pictures chairman Harry Cohn once infamously said, “If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau”. The Chateau Marmont (link 1 above), along with the city itself, exudes glamour, history, and allure of stardom as much back then as it does now. Spend a night at the legendary Sunset Tower (8358 Sunset Blvd, link 2 above), once home to Frank Sinatra and the Gabor sisters or grab a cocktail at the Chateau’s garden and wander its captivating hallways where Sofia Coppola, muse to all things Marc Jacobs, set her haunting film, Somewhere.


Architectural Landmarks

For architecture aesthetes and Modernist devotees, the iconic Schindler House (833 N Kings Rd,) is essential viewing. Completed in 1922, Rudolph Schindler’s forward-thinking design galvanized the indoor outdoor living that style that is so ubiquitous in California today. Ironically, he was looking to break away from the Spanish Colonial Revival style that prevailed in LA at the time and whose storied history can be viewed along Harper and Havenhurst Drive.

Architect Leland Bryant’s Romanesque villa in his signature grand Chateau style was once home to Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich. After absorbing all this local history, walk through the Scarpa-inspired steel gates at Restoration Hardware Gallery (8564 Melrose Avenue), for a touch of modern meets classic and find yourself perched on their sprawling rooftop park under heritage olive trees, replete with views of neighboring Hollywood Hills.

Creative Dining and Cocktail Culture

From old-school staples like Craigs (8826 Melrose Ave, link 3 above) and Dan Tana’s (9071 California State Route 2), to the buzzy young chefs pioneering new flavor profiles, dining options in West Hollywood are endless. Many LA dining aficionados are familiar with Ricardo Zarate and his Peruvian-Californian creations but newcomers to Rosaline (8479 Melrose Ave) will fall in love instantly with the greenhouse-inspired design of the patio dining room. Start with innovative cocktails incorporating LA elements like ginger kombucha and stay for his well-regarded ceviche.

For a taste of California comfort at its finest, the Sunday supper at Lucques (8474 Melrose Ave) is quintessential West Coast cooking in a elegant yet cozy setting, as if you’re at home with the chef herself, Suzanne Goin. Or plant-based eaters (and even meat-eaters) will love the vegan Mexican food and iconic breezy courtyard at Gracias Madre (link 4 above)






International shopping under the California sun

Sure, you can zip over to Paris, Milan, or Berlin to browse the latest international furniture fairs, or you can take a stroll along West Hollywood’s design corridor to peruse the only Minotti showroom (8936 Beverly Blvd) in the world, located along a corridor of other luxe design offerings such as Fendi Casa and Michael Aram. Head one block east and transport yourself to Paris’ in L’Eclaireur (450 N Robertson Blvd), whose exquisitely curated art and one of a kind objects from names such as Zaha Hadid, are housed in a 60’s-built chateau that also hosts exclusive events on the third floor.

WHAT TO DO

Melrose Place

An alluring side street tucked away from La Cienega, Melrose Place is the highly picturesque sister of the more well-known Melrose Avenue. Whether you’re investing in timeless luxury from heavy hitters like Balmain and Bottega Veneta or elevated basics from cult favorites APC and Isabel Marant, there is no shortage of style on this compact stretch of street. A popular backdrop for LA’s fashion bloggers, you’ll often spot an impromptu photo shoot, with these style mavens and their photographers using each building’s unique architectural elements as graphic backgrounds. Once all of the shopping or browsing has you famished, duck into Croft Alley (8428 Melrose Place), a tiny but charming eatery favorited by creatives and models in between meetings (Nous Models, the agency of Sincerely Jules is a few blocks away). LA staples like avocado toast and kale salad dominate the menu along with their house made turmeric tea infused with ginger, coconut oil, and lemon, possibly the secret to that coveted no-makeup glow.

Pacific Design Center

Impossible to miss on the street, the 3 brightly colored geometric buildings that make up the Pacific Design Center (8687 Melrose Ave) houses 100 design showrooms (most are open to the public during business hours), creative office spaces, and hosts Elton John’s infamous post- Oscar party, among many other events in the design and entertainment communities that surround the neighborhood. Currently, it is also home to Museum of Contemporary Art at the PDC, an offshoot of the downtown location, created to focus on design and architecture themed exhibitions. Past exhibits have included Rick Owen’s Brutalist-inspired furniture designs, and Hedi Slimane’s rock-and-roll-infused photographs of youthful malaise.

Caffeinated Crawl

From the beckoning pastel hues of Alfred Tea’s millenial pink (link 5 above) to Danish import Joe and the Juice’s moodier ambience, there are no shortage of stylish spaces in which to sip cortados in West Hollywood. Go on a coffee crawl and experience the different approaches to your brew of choice and the trendy atmospheres they’re served in. Kick off the morning with a pour-over at Verve Coffee Roasters (8925 Melrose Ave) and linger in the airy space by Commune Design, (known for their eclectic stylings for the Ace Hotel family and whose offices are just around the corner). If you’re more of a tea connoisseur, order up a ceremonial matcha at Alfred’s Tea Room before heading upstairs next door to equally instagram-ready Apartment by the Line (8463 Melrose Place), a boutique experience created to feel like you’re in home of a very stylish fashion friend.

Night Life

Unlike many other neighborhoods in LA, West Hollywood is just as, if not more so alive at night than it is during the day. Start at the legendary Comedy Store (8433 Sunset Blvd), where you may spot Chris Rock or Whitney Cummings popping in for a surprise set as they work out new material. Or don the stylish outfit you purchased earlier in the day to drink and dance the night away on the swank rooftop of Catch LA (8715 Melrose Ave, link 6 above), where seafood platters and mezcal cocktails are favorited by Alessandra Ambrosio, the Jenners, and Cindy Crawford.

Palm Springs

It’s unnecessary to leave when surrounded by so much to see and do, but for a quick getaway from urban life, you can do like the screen sirens once did (and still do) and escape to Palm Springs, Hollywood’s playground away from the hustle and bustle of the film industry. The lure of the desert and the short drive away from the studios “two hour rule” made it the perfect retreat. Grab a cocktail at Copley’s, housed at Cary Grant’s former estate and Frank SInatra’s favorite dish, Steak Diane at Melvyn’s, a corner of the Inglenook Inn. Or rent an Airbnb with friends and stage your own Slim Aaron’s moment with classic cocktails poolside and a clear view of the San Jacinto mountains, perhaps dressed in Trina Turk’s signature desert attire.






Natasha Lee Natasha Lee

Natasha Lee is an LA-based photographer who loves nothing more than globe-trotting and capturing all the beautiful people and places that inspire wanderlust as she goes. Natasha has shot for Evian, Food & Wine, Refinery29, myDomaine, and many more. Follow her stylish finds at @talktonatasha and www.bynatasha.net.