Los Angeles is on the map for one reason — it’s the entertainment capital of the world. Many visitors travel to L.A. to experience Hollywood Boulevard, attend a few studio tours and, hopefully, catch a glimpse of a movie star. Aside from the typical sightseeing agenda, there’s plenty to do in Tinseltown. In fact, we’ve rounded up an A-list lineup of restaurants, attractions and hotels new to the glitzy L.A. scene.
When you’re in L.A., it’s crucial to visit West Hollywood’s famous Sunset Strip. One of the newest restaurants on the Strip is Osteria Drago, home to master chef Celestino Drago. This Italian hot spot offers a balance of contemporary cuisine — we can almost smell the risotto frutti di mare coming to the table now — in an authentic European setting.
Not in the mood for Italian? Head a few blocks over to Laurel Hardware on Santa Monica Boulevard. You’d easily mistake the restaurant for an actual hardware store from the outside (the storefront was one in its former life). But inside, you’ll find American cuisine at its finest. Its menu is infused with global influences and offers organic and hormone-free proteins, like lamb belly with stewed lentils, shishito peppers and zucchini.
Taking a step back to Sunset, there’s fussed-about wine bar and charcuterie spot, Gorge, which opened this past September. Coming from prestigious culinary backgrounds (Joël Robuchon in Paris, Le Cirque, Restaurant Guy Savoy), Gorge owners and chefs Elia Aboumrad and Uyen Nguyen bring their talents to the table by serving a distinct and authentic French menu in a quaint, rustic setting.
Whether you’re star-struck first-timer or shopped-there, done-that veteran, L.A. can be one of the most difficult trips to plan because there’s so much to do. Regardless of where you stand, your trip will unfold a lot easier if you know where all the fun is.
The city’s newest rock star is located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where visitors can view Michael Heizer’s “Actual Size,” a series of 15 prints of monolithic rock, through February 24. Another LACMA highlight from Heizer is Levitated Mass, a 456-foot sculpture placed over a 340-ton granite megalith. With a gradual 15-foot descent, visitors are able to walk beneath the boulder to fully admire the artist’s craftsmanship.
More fun with nature is to be had downtown at the newly opened Grand Park, a 12-acre green space with four different areas — the restored Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, a performance lawn, a community terrace and a grand event lawn. In this urban haven, come out for a lunchtime walk or to enjoy an afternoon of live local music.
If you’re looking for some star treatment, rest your head at the newly reopened Hotel Bel-Air. The hotel has been a favorite hideout for Hollywood’s royalty for decades. Make like a celebrity at its La Prairie spa, high-end Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air restaurant, 103 luxuriously appointed room and suites and 12 acres of fragrant gardens.
Across town in Beverly Hills, the atmosphere is busier, the shopping is a bit more upscale, but the accommodations are also exquisite. Here is where you’ll find Mr. C Beverly Hills, a high-rise offering 138 swanky guest rooms with private balconies. Travertine marble floors, a grand piano and glass pool table adorn the lobby while each room is decorated with red or white Chesterfield sofas, Eames-style chairs and glossy black-and-white photos of Tinseltown legends.
If you want to be in Hollywood, try Hotel Wilshire. The comfortable, modern address will give you the feel of what Southern California is all about. Its 74 guest rooms, stylish décor and designer furnishings will appeal to both business and leisure travelers. For weekend brunch, go to chef Eric Greenspan’s Roof on Wilshire for indulgent pancakes lasagna (layers of flapjacks, sausage, eggs, cheese bacon and maple cream). Celebrity or not, you can feel the warm hospitality in this centrally located boutique hotel.
Photos Courtesy of iStock-compassandcamera