The year 2014 is barely dry behind the ears and yet we’re already feeling a bit overwhelmed by the list of shiny new luxury hotels, celebrity chef restaurants and glittering cultural institutions to visit in California. The best of them share a sense of place and offer unique experiences.
Los Angeles leads the pack with a handful of impressive debuts, but there are exciting things happening up and down the Golden State. We suggest you make plans to visit some of these new spots to sleep, eat and get cultured from the Bay Area to San Diego in 2014.
The company that makes hotels cooler by making them less formal graced downtown Los Angeles with its slightly hipster version of luxury when the latest Ace Hotel opened in early January. The hotel gets its star power from the building itself — it inhabits the circa-1927 United Artists building, which once housed a rule-breaking movie company. The Spanish Gothic touches that Mary Pickford (the actress who founded United Artists) so loved are now juxtaposed with minimal furniture such as low beds topped with Pendleton blankets and Noguchi pendant lights. Be sure to visit the rooftop pool and garden, and L.A. Chapter, a West Coast version of chef Ken Addington’s farm-to-table spot Five Leaves in Brooklyn.
Suvir Saran’s Yet-To-Be-Named Restaurant, San Francisco
Suvir Saran, the cookbook author, Top Chef and creator of the internationally acclaimed Dévi in New York City, is moving to San Francisco to open his grand new restaurant in the NEMA building on Market Street. The 9,000-square-foot, soon-to-be-named restaurant will feature brick ovens and California cuisine with global flavors ranging from Vietnam to Italy to India. “I want to give people a late-night option that’s seductive, affordable, delicious, and it’s easy to mingle and get to know each other,” says Saran. Expect a flurry of tweets when Saran does choose a name for his restaurant that’s backed solely by serial investor Paresh Ghelani; it’s right next door to Twitter.
Juniper & Ivy, San Diego
This San Diego restaurant by Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Richard Blais (yet another Top Chef alum) is set to debut in February 2014 in a renovated warehouse on the edge of the city’s Little Italy. A large bar is the dominant central feature, along with a two-story wine wall. The room will be awash with shades of caramel and blue with skylights and a glass-enclosed private dining room. Menu details are scant, but expect seafood crudo and other dishes with a modernist flair, since Blais was known as the molecular guy on the cooking show.
The Broad, Los Angeles
When it opens in late 2014, The Broad will showcase art collectors and philanthropists Edythe and Eli Broad’s massive portfolio of contemporary art with the world. Besides the permanent collection of Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons that will be accessible to all since admission is free, the museum will have a fine art lending library that will loan pieces to institutions around the world. Perhaps rivaling anything in The Broad’s art collection is the museum building with a white veil grid exterior, which was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, that lets light into the galleries. It’s got to hold its own with Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall just down the way, after all.
There’s no shortage of opulent hotels in SoCal and The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage (not far from Palm Springs) adds another tempting one to the mix. Perched on a 650-foot precipice that overlooks a scenic valley, the new hotel, which is slated to open in the spring, features 244 rooms with views of the San Jacinto Mountains or the Coachella Valley. The entire property features natural elements (think stone and wood) that blend with the desert’s sandy tones, relaxed furniture and lots of shade. Seek out the oasis of the vast 25,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa with waterfalls, terraces and outdoor fireplaces.
Herringbone, Los Angeles
San Diegan Brian Malarkey of Top Chef fame brought his seafood concept Herringbone to the Mondrian Los Angeles in mid-January. Helmed by chef de cuisine Anthony Sinsay, the menu ranges from the sublime (pork belly with wood-roasted sunchoke, Manila clam, calvados jus and green apple) to the surprising (chicken-fried sea urchin and waffles). Thomas Schoos, who likes neutral color schemes, thick cables of rope and dramatic overhead features, designed the 7,500-square-foot space, which will feature Carrara marble tabletops and Italian cypress trees.
The Line Hotel, Los Angeles
Koreatown is the site of this hip and slightly edgy hotel and restaurant collaboration between chef and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Roy Choi — best known for his Kogi BBQ taco truck — and partners The Sydell Group, designer Sean Knibb and nightlife gurus Mark and Jonnie Houston. The Line Hotel, which opened January 1, has a relaxed vibe with artfully simple rooms with concrete walls, original art and expansive views of Los Angeles thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. You’ll also find free Wi-Fi, Baxter of California bath amenities and a curated selection of American and Korean mini-bar drinks — Soju, anyone? Choi is handling the cuisine at the main restaurant, Pot, and Pot Lobby Bar, but we can’t wait to wake up with the cross-cultural sweets of café con leche at the Café.
Photos Courtesy of The Line Hotel, Richard Blais and The Herringbone