Weekend travel guide to West Hollywood, Los Angeles, including the best hotel recommendations, restaurants, bars, museums, things to do, eat, see and explore. Los Angeles (West Hollywood, Santa Monica) Portland, Nashville, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cabo San Lucas, Austin and New York.
"CITY OF STARS" BUT THERE'S MORE TO IT.
Los Angeles is an exciting, creative metropolis, and its sprawl can be overwhelming. The biggest decision in your planning is where to stay in LA. We are about to make it real easy for you. Stay in West Hollywood. With its central location (and neighboring Beverly Hills), you'll find more shopping, dining, bars, and walkable streets then any other part of town. "WeHo" is also home to the Design District of the city. You'll experience beautiful, design savvy indoor and outdoor spaces-- restaurants, shops, etc.-- and fashion-centric locals. It’s also the most likely part of town to bump into a celebrity (and even more likely to see a reality star), and let’s be honest, that’s really the icing on the cake when visiting LA.
*Please see our SANTA MONICA guide for a weekend guide on the Westside.
PETITE ERMITAGE. Hidden on a residential street but with easy access to Sunset and Melrose, this boutique hotel is a full-service hotel and experience. The private rooftop pool, restaurant, and lounge is an exclusive members only club for locals but if you are a guest of the hotel you have access to this beautiful rooftop hideaway. Performance and burlesque shows are hosted on the weekends.
SUNSET TOWER HOTEL
SUNSET TOWER HOTEL. Located in the heart of the Sunset Strip, this historic art deco building exudes Old Hollywood and has evolved into one of the hippest (and somewhat secretive) spots in town. The hotel lobby is timeless-- dark woods, fireplaces, dimly lit, traditional furnishings-- with classically attired staff. The beautiful pool deck, positioned for views of the city, feels like your own private home. We love this place so much, we included the restaurant in The Guide.
SUNSET MARQUIS. Just steps from Sunset Plaza, this boutique hotel is a quaint oasis from the bustling Sunset Strip. The California coastal feeling property, with Spanish-inspired architecture, delivers an indoor-outdoor concept including two pools, outdoor restaurant, multiple bars, spa, and an art gallery. You'll feel like its your own private compound along the perfectly landscaped garden paths.
EAT_CROFT ALLEY. But first, stop by ALFRED COFFEE (or ALFRED TEA if that’s more your thing) on Melrose Place. Get your drink to go, and head over to CROFT ALLEY in the alley behind Melrose Place for breakfast (open at 10am; no coffee service so it's BYOCaffeine, which they welcome). The French scrambled dish gives you a bit of everything, or go for the healthier option of fresh berries, and chlorophyll yogurt (I mean, you are in LA). You will understand why this small, charming tucked-away spot is still a best-kept secret, even for locals.
WALK_ MELROSE PLACE. Walk-off your breakfast around Melrose Place. In a city where the neighborhoods (and people) always seem to be having an identity crisis, Melrose Place has maintained its high-end boutique identity sans the stuffiness. Our favorite store picks_ VIOLET GREY, TENOVERSIX, KELLY WEARSTLER, ISABEL MARANT, THE APARTMENT BY THE LINE, ALFRED TEA ROOM.
SEE_ RESTORATION HARDWARE GALLERY ON MELROSE. Continue your stroll west down Melrose. If you need a pick-me-up, stop by URTH CAFFE for a "to-go" Spanish Latte, Boba or pastry. Take it across to the street to RESTORATION HARDWARE'S flagship store and leisurely make your way up to the rooftop while admiring the beautifully curated display rooms on each floor. The rooftop garden is open to the public to work, relax, and even eat/drink. You can thank us later.
SEE__ MOCA AT THE PACIFIC DESIGN CENTER or DOWNTOWN BEVERLY HILLS. Continue your walk towards "The Big Blue Whale" more formally known as the Pacific Design Center (PDC). Despite it's bold Lego-ish appearance, it is considered the West Coast capital of high-end interiors and innovative design. In the PDC courtyard, visit a satellite branch of the downtown art museum MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art, (admission is free) with rotating exhibits of contemporary design and visual arts. Check the calendar beforehand for current exhibitions.
OR if it’s been a minute since you’ve been to LA, head to BEVERLY HILLS for shopping at our favorite stores (both N & S Beverly Drive are the best): & OTHER STORIES, BARNEYS NEW YORK, LAUDREE, TASCHEN, DIPYTIQUE, NESPRESSO CAFE.
EAT_ CHATEAU MARMONT or LA SCALA. If you haven’t been to CHATEAU MARMONT, it’s a must. Restaurant reservations are required, because you can’t even pull into the legendary hotel driveway unless you are a guest of the hotel, an A-lister, or have a restaurant reservation. Not only will you be charmed by the Parisian red and white chairs, you'll feel like royalty lunching in the restaurant patio garden. Split the burger, bolognese (off menu item), or shrimp cocktail. If you prefer a less pricy or lighter option, but still an iconic LA experience, head (or stay in) to Beverly Hills and go to LA SCALA for their famous chopped salad in any variation, just the way you like it.
DRINK_ EP&LP ROOFTOP or GRACIAS MADRE for a pre-dinner libation. In a city where perfect weather isn't just an anomaly, you'd think there would be more places like LP ROOFTOP. The beautiful succulent-filled rooftop, with bright blue Acapulco chairs, inviting couches, and a fire pit, provides the best views of LA and an overwhelming cocktail selection (Boba cocktails are a thing here). Alternatively, decorated for dreamers, GRACIAS MADRE might be one of the most visually whimsical restaurant spaces in LA with a bar and patio that serve drinks like tequila snow cones and mescal popsicles.
EAT_ SUNSET TOWER HOTEL. The most non-trendy, trendy spot where the ambiance is just as on point as the food. The décor might feel a bit formal at first, but the live music, dim lights, delicious cocktails, and upscale versions of all of your favorite guilty pleasures (fried chicken, zucchini chips, lobster tacos, chicken pot pie) will bring you right back to your comfort zone. Don’t forget the "create your own" ice cream sundae that is worth every $1 topping. Also the Tower Smash cocktail might be our favorite current cocktail in the city.
DRINK_ ROGER ROOM or THE NICE GUY. If you are craving a speakeasy/craft cocktail lounge, head to ROGER ROOM. The space is small and you have to be okay with standing, as it's challenging to snag a seat at the tight bar. It’s the closest thing West Hollywood has to a cocktail only bar and the crowd is hip without being too hipster. Directly across the street, THE NICE GUY, has been the place to see and be seen over the past few years. It blurs the line between a restaurant and a lounge with live music, delicious cocktails, late night bites, and the most well-connected locals in town. The door is tight, so attempt at your own risk.
DO_ THE COMEDY STORE, HOTEL CAFE, THE GREEK THEATRE, or THE TROUBADOUR. If you're looking for an entertainment-filled night, walk across from Sunset Tower to THE COMEDY STORE (they run 'til 2am) and see some of the most sought-after headliners in comedy perform. For music, check out the calendar at HOTEL CAFE, GREEK THEATRE or THE TROUBADOUR to see who's playing at LA's most intimate venues.
EAT_ THE FOUNTAIN COFFEE ROOM AT THE BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL. The hotel has been a Hollywood icon and LA staple since the 1920s, and the coffee shop transports you back in time where the only thing that has changed is the prices. The good news is the silver dollar pancakes are a great “for the table” dish.
WALK_ THE BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL. The hotel sits on twelve perfectly landscaped acres and pays homage to its original charm and history. Make sure you stop by the gift shop where you can find almost anything with the "Beverly Hills Hotel" logo (ash trays, bottle openers, slippers) or the iconic banana leaf print that defines the hotel. Check out the pool area too, easily our favorite pool in all of LA.
DO_ MELROSE TRADING POST (Sunday's Only) or WEST 3RD STREET. Head to the MELROSE TRADING POST, where LA’s hip hangs. Find everything from vintage clothes, furniture, accessories and some of the best people watching in LA. If it's not Sunday, head to WEST 3RD STREET for shopping and a stroll. Boutiques line the stretch of 3RD, between La Cienega and Fairfax, from specialty retail, vintage stores, cafes, and coffee shops.
EAT_ REPUBLIQUE or SYCAMORE KITCHEN. If you appreciate modern French food and architecture, grab a light lunch at REPUBLIQUE. The interior dining area has been brilliantly revamped with vaulted ceilings, brick walls, distressed woods, and geometric tiles with blue hues to create a rustic French village feel with a serious Beauty & The Beast vibe. Or head to SYCAMORE KITCHEN for a more causal setting where you can expect exquisite baked goods (Karen Hatfield is one of the best pastry chefs in town) and dishes with a savory Mediterranean flare (pork belly BLTA sandwich and Mediterranean chopped salad are our picks).
SEE_ LACMA. Where the permanent collection is one of the best in the country. Don’t miss Metropolis II, Rain Room and the Broad Contemporary building. Sign up for a timed entrance spot to James Turrell “Breathing Light” as soon as you arrive at the museum for an out of body experience of light, space, and color that'll make you feel like you just walked into Drake's "Hotline Bling" music video. Check the calendar in advance for their featured exhibitions which usually require timed tickets purchased beforehand (Rain Room is one that requires advance ticket reservations).
EAT_ JON & VINNY'S or DAN TANA'S. Jon and Vinny are household names for Angelenos. These two chefs raised the bar in LA dining and merged modern Italian and modern minimalist décor at its best for their namesake restaurant. The restaurant has a New York ambiance because of the smaller space, buzzing crowd, and loud music. The spicy little gems salad, LA woman pizza, spicy rigatoni, and cacio e pepe bucatini are the show stoppers (ya, we realized we just listed the whole menu). Must make a reservation. If it's a smaller group, we love requesting the bar where your eyes and nose will enjoy the sensory overload.
LA natives say you've made it in Hollywood if you have a dish named after you at DAN TANA'S. It's a classic LA establishment, where not much has changed in the 50 years since its opened. The menu is expansive and you'll find every traditional Italian dish "a la" the way your favorite celebrity orders it. The timeless, modest design with red-checkered tablecloths, round booths, and wall galleries may give you a nostalgic feeling. The chopped salad and chicken parm are the local favorites.
DRINK_DESSERT_ YSABEL or MILK. For a post dinner cocktail, head to YSABEL. The space is one of the most beautiful indoor/outdoor concepts in LA and has amphitheater-style outdoor seating if you can't grab a seat at the bar. Or head to MILK for dessert. Their ice cream macaroon sandwiches draws crowds day and night.