A week-end in LA
LA gets a bad rap. It’s too big. It’s too polluted. It’s superficial. It’s snarled in traffic. That may all be true, but LA is also so much more than the sum of its negative parts. Some of them are obvious, others less so, but they are all quintessentially LA, whatever that means!
What follows are some of the places my friend Juliette would take her friends and family. Juliette wrote this for her wedding guests who are staying at the Petite Ermitage in West Hollywood. She has a crush on Mark Bittman and an even bigger crush on her fab fiance David. Happy wedding J+D!
One of the first things to realize about LA is that in it’s expanse, it is actually comprised of many smaller and perfectly manageable neighborhoods. West Hollywood, where the Petit Ermitage is, is a very walkable neighborhood. You can walk from the hotel to Sunset boulevard or Melrose place, you can walk to restaurants, supermarkets, shops, and some of the best S&M leather stores you’ll ever wish for…
The second thing to do is to just embrace the sheer size of it and accept that you’ll get some of the best views of LA while driving in your car. So keep your eyes open.
To do and see:
- Runyon Canyon: a short drive from our hotel, LA’s public park has everything from horse trails, coyotes and an amazing view. It is democratic – studio secretaries and the stars that never notice them jog on the same paths with their dogs.
- Venice beach: it’s cliché, but there’s a good reason for that. The beach is huge and generally deserted, the boardwalk is long and full of eccentricity, kitschy tourist stuff and medicinal marihuana booths. It probably has changed little since the 70’s, except that the attention muscle beach used to get (an outdoor and public weight-lifting center) has been diverted to the new skating park – it’s at the level of Windward Avenue and Ocean Front Walk in Venice and totally amazing, whether you skate or not!
- Abbot Kinney Avenue in Venice has become much more gentrified, but it is still Venice. Not a Starbucks in sight on this street, and many, many nice stores, including my friend Donna & Wayne’s Surfing Cowboys with the best in mid-century modern and Americana. Also Axe restaurant – organic, sustainable, seasonal, laid back and utterly delicious.
- Griffiths’s Observatory: it’s not just a classic location of many movies set in LA (Rebel Without a Cause), it’s also an amazing building, with a stunning view and the Planetarium attached to the observatory is fantastic.
- The Getty Museum – just go.
- The Museum of Jurassic Technology: one of the most interesting museums or anti-museums if you will, and one of my favorite museums in the world.
- LACMA, especially the Magritte – did you know that “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” hangs in LA?
- MOCA, the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angeles, Disney Concert Hall and little Olvera street – downtown LA is a jumble of architectural styles and also an easy walking neighborhood.
- Little Tokyo, in downtown LA: animé and other Japanese cartoons, calligraphy pens, all manner of Hello Kitty, and some amazing food, and not just Sushi. The recently opened Lazy Ox Canteen is a Chinese small plates pub food place. It is getting raves!
- Melrose Avenue: vintage stores (American Rag), specialty Nike’s (Sportie LA) and that grungy, messy, hip LA vibe on one long stretch of asphalt. Also location of Decades and Decades Two vintage store. Not your usual kind of vintage stores – this is where you’ll find curated vintage Dior and Jil Sander. GOR-geous.
- Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Final resting place to stars of the golden age of cinema. In the summer they screen movies on the wall of the mausoleum.
- La Brea Tar Pits: right next to LACMA. It’s another quintessential LA place, another one I never tire of.
- Disneyland, Universal Studios, Legoland – all easy day trips from LA.
Near the hotel (Petite Ermitage in West Hollywood)
- Ajisai sushi: just down the street from the hotel. One of my favorite sushi places. It is small and Shoji prepares some of the best sushi around. Do not miss the spicy tuna biscotti!
- Yogurt Stop: our neighbors Misty and Marta started a self-serve frozen yoghurt bar, and it has become THE hotspot in West Hollywood. Try the original WeHo Tart or the Cake Batter. YUM. Around the corner from Ajisai, v. close to hotel.
- The Hall at Palihouse: a lovely courtyard, and hopping lounge and delicious break-fast, lunch and dinner in a revised bistro menu. On Holloway, almost at Sta Monica. 0.7 mi from hotel.
- Real Food Daily: where vegans go to see and be seen and eat. On la Cienaga, a short 20 minute walk from the hotel. 1 mi from hotel.
- Hugo’s: less than a mile from the Petit Ermitage, a simple American diner taken one notch up, one significant, healthy, delicious notch. On Sta Monica at King’s Rd. 0.8 mi from hotel.
- Le Pain Quotidien: Belgium in LA – the Melrose Avenue location is a 15 minute walk from the hotel (straight down San Vicente and left on Melrose). They carry all the food any of the Belgian locations serve (great pastries and bread, phenomenal breakfast oatmeal, light lunches), with a dash of LA: inevitably, one of the people you are sharing the outdoor terrace with will be some celebrity you can’t name, in sweat pants and sans make-up. 0.7 mi from hotel.
- Sweet Lady Jane: for late night pie cravings – on Melrose avenue and Orlando (in other words a walkable distance), open until 11.30pm. 1.1 mi from hotel.
- Matsuhisa: birthplace of the Nobu empire. If you like non-traditional, Peruvian inspired sushi, this is the place to go. On La Cienaga just south of San Vicente. 1.5 mi from the hotel.
A bit further from the hotel
- Stolychnaya bakery. Next to the Wholefoods store on the corner of Santa Monica and Fairfax. Poppy seed strudel like I ate in the summers in Germany, served by Russian ladies wearing too much lipstick.
- Umami burger. The best burger, hands down. On La Brea at 9th street.
- Meals by Genet – in little Ethiopia on Fairfax and San Vicente. Truly inspired Ethiopian food.
- Mozza – the pizza gets well-justified raves. Not to be missed, and for all the hoopla, both the pizzeria and the osteria are welcoming and attitude-free. On Melrose at Highlan