How to Soar in the City of Angels
Have you ever visited Los Angeles and realized that what it’s famous for turns out to be less than glamorous? It’s common. As a twenty year resident with friends and family spread over the world, I’ve watched as countless starry-eyed visitors’ visions were dashed. If you’re like me and want to love your LA escape, this post is for you.
First, let’s figure out whether you’re like me. I’m an author, radio-host, and entrepreneur with a passion for empowering women. I like great food, beautiful places, conscious living, and people who love being alive. When I travel, I want to know how the locals live. I want to experience their favorite things and swim in their waters—not watch from the banks. I prefer luxury over modesty and value over extravagance. These competing ideas give me what I’ve come to call a black belt in shopping. I want the best experiences and the best prices.
When I travel, I want to know how the locals live. I want to experience their favorite things and swim in their waters—not watch from the banks.
If someone like me were visiting Los Angeles, here’s the itinerary I’d plan. Fly into LAX on Virgin America, You’ll feel like a star before you even get here. Choose a flight that lands before 2pm or after 7pm to avoid rush hour traffic. When you touch down, go straight to the rental counter of the agency you booked a car rental at—in advance and using a credit card with insurance coverage (call them and ask them whether you’re covered). You can’t do LA without a car; don’t try.
Instead of choosing a hotel based on the lobby up, I prefer to base my selection on the quality of the experience I’ll have sleeping there. I like sublime sheets, a staff who knows my name, spotless surfaces, and beautiful light. My favorite spots are (in no particular order) The London, The Huntley Hotel, The Avalon, The Redbury (not light-filled, but so cool), and The Chaimberlain. Each of these hotels offer staggered promotions. Price them early or at the last minute for the best deals. Parking will be expensive. It’s worth it considering an $85 parking ticket is commonplace. If you’re a lover of big hotels and old Hollywood, check out The Beverly Hilton, their room rates are relatively low and the property is filled with Hollywood memorabilia.
Here’s what you need to know before you dive into exploring LA. It’s a city of sprawling cities and getting from one to another can take an hour or more. The best time to drive is after 9:30 am, until 3pm and then after 7pm. Plan your day around this and you’ll have a much more pleasant stay. Hollywood isn’t what you think it is. It’s a tourist trap filled with things that Angelenos rarely encounter. The beaches aren’t clean. If you came for great water, go south to Huntington Beach, or north to Malibu and Santa Barbara.
Instead of choosing a hotel based on the lobby up, I prefer to base my selection on the quality of the experience I’ll have sleeping there.
If you love to shop, skip Rodeo Drive and head to Abbot Kinney in Venice, Melrose Blvd in Hollywood, Main St., or Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. You’ll find unique boutiques with lavish, expensive items and pop-up street fairs with deals, too. What you won’t find are the shops that populate the malls across the country. You didn’t need to fly out here for that.
Hungry? Here are some of the best restaurants I’ve been to since i’ve been living in Los Angeles. Get the Opentable app and get a reservation whenever possible. The Tavern (American, Brentwood), Sugarfish (best sushi in town), Sunnin (authentic Lebanese), Picca (Peruvian fusion) Huckleberry Café & Rustic Canyon (same owners, Santa Monica, farm to table), Feed (Venice, farm to table) Akasha (Culver City, farm to table) and AOC Winebar (hotspot, great food) (. If you’re determined to see someone famous pop in for lunch at the Fountain Coffee Room (aka “the Counter”) at the Beverly Hills Hotel. For the best views in LA and inspired gourmet dishes, have lunch at the Restaurant at the Getty and stay for an afternoon of exploration.
Now, for my all-time favorite urban-goddess activities. Walk the labyrinth at the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens or, stroll among gorgeous trees and massive mansions at Holmby Park. Have a cocktail at Penthouse at the Huntley, the Viceroy, the Polo Lounge, or Cecconi’s. Order anything with St. Germaine in it. And finally, get the best massage you’ve ever had at an extraordinary price. Visit Aqua Thai Spa in Westwood and get a 90 minute (Thai-combo is the best) massage for $75. The place is spartan and spotless. Ask for April, but take anyone else if she’s not available. Trust me, you’ll never want any other massage after this one. Bring your own oils and lotion if you prefer organic products.
Here’s to you living like a Goddess in LA.
Living in Los Angeles: How to Soar in the City of Angels