Los Angeles, like its many A-list inhabitants, is the mother of reinvention. The official home of Hollywood, beyond the cinema and celebrity factor, LA has been busy undergoing a transformation thanks to the arrival of cool new hotels, trendy restaurants, and a vibrant art, culture, and shopping scene to rival NYC. Enjoy our curated insider guide to the trendiest spots in LA worth traveling west for.
LA is experiencing a hotel boom, so the world is your oyster when it comes to staying in a cool new hotel in one of the city’s energetic and buzzy neighborhoods. That said, LA is a driving town and the traffic can be murder, so choose somewhere close to where you want to hang.
Venice V, Venice Beach
If sand, sun, shopping on the boutique and restaurant-lined Abbot Kinney, strolling the canals, street art hunting, people-watching, come to mind, check into Venice V on the iconic boardwalk. Housed within a landmark 1915 building, the 36 guest rooms are divided into three themes: Bohemian (boho-chic décor), Artist (a tribute to Hollywood nostalgia), and Dogtown (a nod to the area’s longtime reign as the heart of old-school surf and skate culture). All feature hardwood floors, original art, open layouts, platform beds, walk-in showers, and views of the Pacific. The one-of-a-kind penthouse bungalows with private patios and custom furnishings are the piece de la resistance. Bikes, surfboards, and skateboards are available for those wanting to try their hand at locals’ favorite pastimes.
The Edition, West Hollywood
If an upscale boutique hotel at the intersection of WeHo and Beverly Hills is more your predilection, book one of the West Hollywood EDITION’s guest rooms, suites, or penthouses on the famed Sunset Strip. Awash in creams and beiges, the chambers are sophisticated and serene and leave you with almost the same sense of peace as a trip to the property’s six-room spa. The same warmth and satisfaction can also be found at the vegetable-forward signature restaurant, Ardor. Seriously, is there anything more LA than sipping a kombucha cocktail by the rooftop pool while staring out at the city’s lights?
The LINE LA, Koreatown
While not new The LINE LA is constantly reinventing itself by adding amenities like a running club, tai chi classes, and the Hot Tacos food truck in the motor court and thus stays at the top of our list of LA’s best hotels. The building was once home to Hunter S. Thompson and the crowd today is similarly eclectic and creative. It’s a great place to chat up a stranger in the lobby bar or over a warm cinnamon roll or lobster chilaquiles at Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin’s greenhouse-style Openaire restaurant. It’s also got an outpost of popular coffee shop Alfred on the ground floor, one of the best themed (‘80s nostalgia) and karaoke bars in town Break Room 86, and a new disco-deco club, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, that’s design owes as much to Donna Summer as it does Gatsby. Plus, the Koreatown location can’t be beaten. It’s the perfect middle ground between Hollywood, the East Side (Silver Lake and Echo Park), and downtown, and puts you within walking distance of the most authentic and tasty Korean BBQ this side of Seoul.
Today LA’s dining scene is thriving and globally influenced, you can eat your way around the world in its many enclaves dressing up like the glitterati for a fancy dinner or pulling off the laidback West Coast glam look to head to a cool food truck, or trendy new plant-based joint.
Soulmate, West Hollywood
One of the year’s most anticipated restaurant openings, Soulmate in WeHo offers Spanish Mediterranean fare, most cooked over a live fire and dictated by ingredient seasonality, in a shiny happy setting with a ceiling that contracts to let the sunshine in to feed the live tree centerpiece. There’s also a colorful interior dining room with its own bar. While dinner focuses more on shared plates and tapas, breakfast is designed to be individualized. A good thing since you won’t want to share the buñuelos de patata (with quince and black truffle), the chorizo hash, the torrijas (custard-soaked brioche with figs and spiced anglaise), or the bocadillo that claims to cure hangovers.
Chifa, Eagle Rock
Named after the Peruvian word for a Chinese restaurant, Chifa is a vibrant Insta-worthy jewel box in Eagle Rock helmed by Humberto Leon (co-founder of cult fashion brand Opening Ceremony). A reimagined reboot of the restaurant Leon’s mother had in Lima before his family immigrated to the U.S, it serves hearty, soulful Chinese, Taiwanese, and Peruvian cuisine. Many dishes are adapted from age-old family recipes including some sourced from the executive chef’s (Leon’s brother-in-law) family tree. A few bites of the dan dan mian, the poached Si Yao chicken, zongzi dumplings, or the wellness soups infused with the tenets of ancient Chinese medicine and you’ll be hooked. Don’t miss the boozy chicha morada made from purple corn.
Girl & The Goat, Downtown LA
Stephanie Izard, James Beard Award and Top Chef winner has completed the westward expansion of her Chicago Girl & The Goat empire, opening an outpost downtown. True to her Midwestern roots, she’s served up fine dining without an ounce of pretense. Instead, her Arts District space is airy, warm, and bustling with one of the most stylish patios in town. The globally-inspired menu mixes signature dishes with new, season-inspired offerings like confit goat belly, carrot hummus, and chili crunch quail with pickled persimmons and sweet potato noodles. A vegan menu is available for plant-based peeps.
FIA Steak, Santa Monica
The more elegant sister to FIA, FIA Steak, (both are collaborations between chef Brendan Collins and restaurateur Michael Greco. The dimly lit, leather-heavy steakhouse serves prime cuts and preparations including A5 Wagyu, 45-day dry-aged T-bone, beef tartare with truffle and charred sourdough, and 60-day dry-aged costata di manzo. It also has a large open kitchen, which allows for conversations with the talented culinary team, who in addition to steak also do amazing seafood dishes and perfect pasta.
Between historic dives, speakeasies, microbreweries, scenic rooftops and swanky celebrity-filled cocktail bars, LA’s nightlife is a pulsating mix of cooler than cool bars.
Winston House, Venice
Grab dinner and a show at the always lively Winston House, which is just steps from the beach, and the LA Instagram bingo square that is the hanging Venice sign. There are chic bar sections on both levels with comfortable couches and secret nooks, but for the true VIP feel, reserve the second-floor DJ booth table 10 feet above the dance floor. It’s sectioned off around a little corner from the main area so you’ll be able to enjoy your Mighty Duck tacos or shrimp toast in seclusion. It also offers the best vantage point for watching visiting musicians or the house jazz band.
The Spare Room, Hollywood
After more than 10 years as one of LA’s best cocktail lounges and gaming parlors, The Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt is starting its next decade with some fresh blood. The new bar director and former Speed Rack champ Tess Anne Sawyer cut her teeth in respected NYC joints like Mother’s Ruin and Happiest Hour and now she’s bringing her creative concoctions like highballs with infused ice and draft espresso martinis to Tinseltown. Many reimagined classics contain nods to her Korean heritage such as a kimchi-infused martini, which can be enjoyed in the new dart room or on the vintage bowling lanes. Which reminds us she’s revamped the house White Russian too.
The trend for delicious non-alcoholic drinks is alive and well at Soft Spirits, LA’s first non-alcoholic bottle shop. The Silver Lake store specializes in alcohol-free alternatives for spirits (think gin, rum, or whiskey), beers, wine, and bubbles, along with the new school of sans-spirits beverages like Kin and Wilfred’s. These lines are designed to evoke cocktails, often containing nootropics and adaptogens with functional properties to create a buzzy sensation. The owner plans to introduce monthly tastings to show customers how to recreate and enjoy the same social experience as a bar minus the hangover.
In the entertainment epicenter of the world, there’s little chance of ever being bored. Beyond the bright lights of Tinseltown, the LA art, culture, and shopping scene now rivals its chic sister New York as a hip cultural melting pot.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures recently premiered with much fanfare in a $484 million, 300,000-square-foot, two-building seven-story complex in Museum Row. Inside the retrofitted 1939 Streamline Moderne-style former May Co. department store, fans can take a walk down cinemas memory lane. The journey is illustrated with early forms of tech, memorable Oscar speeches, revolving exhibits dedicated to game-changers like Citizen Kane and director Spike Lee, costumes, props, animation cells, movie clips, and the list goes on. The instant architectural icon—a 26-million-pound, concrete and glass sphere designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano (Centre Pompidou and Whitney Museum of American Art)—also holds a 1,000-seat theater that hosts screenings and talks with famous folks as well as a terrace overlooking the iconic Hollywood sign.
Fairmont Spa Century Plaza
If your idea of an LA experience is more holistic than Hollywood, book a day at the Fairmont Spa Century Plaza, a 14,000 square-foot pamper palace that is part of the years-long $2.5-billion overhaul of the historic Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. Opened in 1966 and then deemed the hotel of the future, it makes sense that the spa taps into the next wave of wellness—biohacking. It is the only West Coast outpost of Dr. Oz Garcia, a leading authority on healthy aging, stress management, nutrition, and age reversal. His biohacking playbook, utilized regularly by celebrities, involves treatments to hack your health at the cellular level, improve sleep, reduce stress, and promote a healthy mind using curated sequences that combine modalities like infrared technology, neuroscience, isochronic tones, meditation, binaural beats, and anti-gravity chairs. If that’s too woo-woo, the spa also offers the standard luxury treatments (massage, facials, bodywork) and has aromatherapy steam rooms and showers, a Himalayan salt room, and a hammam. If you fancy a post pamper tipple, head to the lobby bar where the cocktails come inspired by the Plaza’s deep musical history.
LA’s mall game has always been strong. Culver City’s Platform—essentially a strip mall elevated with high-end brands, landscaping, and arty murals—takes things to a new level. An all-day destination, there’s an endless collection of quirky fashion and lifestyle boutiques. There are always pop-ups happening, fresh flowers for sale, events for holidays, yoga in the courtyard, and running club meet-ups. And when you have worked up an appetite they’ve got coffee and boba, Pop’s Bagels, Ven Leeuwen ice cream, and awesome restaurants like Loqui (tacos), Roberta’s (pizza), and Margot with its fantastic patio and cocktails. Among the retail highlights: Broome Street General, The Optimist, Teller, and Abbot Kinney early adopter Guild. Buy candles with kooky names at Boy Smells’ first brick-and-mortar location. At Res Ipsa, pick up one-of-a-kind items made from repurposed bags, military jackets, and Levis by a Marrakech-based atelier.
Another trendy one-stop shopping, eating, working, and hangout destination is Row DTLA, which occupies 32 acres in downtown LA. The rehabbed old warehouses and buildings hold many BIPOC- and woman-owned treasures. You could leave with new wheels (tokyobike), stationary (HIGHTIDE), floral arrangements (Jean Pascal), bikinis (Coast By Coast), statement jewelry (Dylan Lex), perfume (Scent Bar DTLA), shoes (Bodega), home goods (Hawkins New York, KINTO, and A+R ), and plenty of new outfits (Making The Cut winner Andrea Pitter’s Pantora, Shades of Grey, LVIR, dRA, MOD REF, and Banks Journal). Grab fine wine at Flask & Field and fresh fruit at the produce market used by big-name chefs. You can get your hair, nails (Powder Beauty specializes in dip manicures ) done, or undergo a cosmetic treatment at The Things We Do. End your adventure at one of the many fine dining establishments like Rappahannock Oyster Bar or the double Michelin-starred Hayato. The center recently saw the return of Sunday’s open-air craft market and food feast, Smorgasburg.