Time to Kill….in LA (ish)
When someone says "LA", it can mean a lot of things. It could mean you're in Malibu or Santa Monica or Hollywood or the Pacific Palisades or many points in between. The place is sprawling and the traffic is HIDEOUS. When I go I do my best to restrict my movements to one or two neighbouring areas. Anticipating road congestion is part of the planning. (Note to self: Do not fly into LAX at 5pm on a Friday.)
On this particular trip we stayed in idyllic Beverly Hills at the infamous Beverly Hills Hotel (BHH), where there is always good star gazing. On this weekend we spied Hillary Duff (gorgeous skin) and her son (cute) along with Rachel Zoe (needs to eat a cookie), Bob Sagit (looks the same as on TV) and John Stamos (short). Not exactly A-listers but celebrity siting is part of the program when visiting LA. It’s like going to the zoo. Catching a glimpse of the panther-like Angelina Jolie is more rare, but the C-list monkeys are everywhere.
Whether you’re staying at the BHH or not, it’s a great place to visit. Stop in at the Polo Lounge for pre-dinner drinks or lunch on the patio. The tortilla soup is the best I’ve ever had. Or have breakfast at the Fountain Cafe, where the grapefruits are the size of cantaloupes.
After breakfast, if you’re at all into spinning you must book a spot in a class at SoulCycle. Forty-five minutes of spinning with weights, great tunes and lots of cardio, which promises to be fun and set you on a path toward changing your body and your life. Or so I’m told. I have yet to make it to one of these classes but they must be doing something right because my trusted sources say there is no other spin class.
After you’ve showered hop in a cab and head to Gjelina‘s in Venice Beach. I’ve been a couple times and it is now my favourite lunch spot in the LA area. The. Best. Pizzas. And kale salad. And porchetta sandwich. I ate like a pig. Gjelina’s is an example of what I love about California restaurants: Laid back, stylish, buzzing, the best ingredients, crowd pleasing food that is still innovative, excellent service and friendly. Oh, and a small but solid selection of well priced California wines. What more do you need to know? Go.
Then check out the shops along Abbot Kinney Blvd (“The Street” as it’s known), which has become a very hip place to hang. No big chains here, just lots of independent galleries, cafes and shops. Don’t miss Heist and Westbrook Maker, where hats are locally made. This is a great way to kill a couple of hours.
From here you’re just a few blocks from the beach boardwalk. Stroll north to the Santa Monica pier for some of the best people watching….on earth. Then If your tootsies need a rest and you need a refreshment, stop in at The Viceroy. Tres chic.
There are so many amazing spots for dinner in LA, it’s hard to choose just one. A few at the top of my list include: The Bazaar at the SLS hotel, where I suggest letting the chef plan your menu. Just make sure it includes a plate of the serrano ham. Stay after dinner for drinks in the bar. The Restaurant at the Chateau Marmont never disappoints, if not more for the people watching then the food. And Mozza, Matsuhisa and Cecconi‘s are consistently good.
Got the energy for more? Head downtown to No Vacancy for after after dinner drinks. It’s a seriously cool spot.
In the coming months I’ll be on the road a bit so look out for more travel recommendations. And of course please send yours my way (any places I must visit in South Beach, Florida?) And for other great sources of what to do and where to eat when you’re on the road check out goop.com and chef David Hawksworth’s Little Black Book.