Since the 1920s, the L.A. enigma of wealth, fame, and pretention has lured celebrity hopefuls and aspiring anybodies to enter a vortex of the fake and fabulous, in a desperate attempt to become “somebody.” While this conundrum has placed L.A. at the top of global “must see” bucket lists for tourists and fledgling starlets, the very Hollywood hoopla the world gawks at and the glamorous, revered lifestyles of the rich and famous are indeed everyday life for Angelenos. Over the next week, I’m taking on L.A. and immersing myself in the trends, the opulence, the foodie revolution, and the hidden gems that make the “City of Angels” so fantastically special.
My trip began yesterday when I landed at LAX and was met upon arrival by my driver, Denise, from Wilshire Limousine (www.wilshirelimousine.com, 310.846.5147). Dressed to the nines, Denise commandeered my luggage cart and escorted me to our snazzy BMW 750iL, whereupon we breezed through L.A’s back roads, avoiding traffic of the 405 and the 101 at all costs. My newest designer sunglasses in hand, I exited the cab at the flawless Andaz West Hollywood (www.westhollywood.andaz.hyatt.com, 323.656.1234), which I’ll call home for the next few nights. The Andaz West Hollywood is Hyatt’s much awaited youthful re-invention of the former Sunset Strip “Riot Hyatt,” a hotbed of 70s and 80s rock ‘n’ roll angst and the long-haired rocker appetite for hotel destruction.
The new Andaz is fresh, funky, fun, and full of freebees, offering a strategically conceptualized product that bridges gaps between generations. The contemporary design of common spaces (above) is highly detailed while rooms are simple and understated. Guest rooms boast spacious sunrooms with floor to ceiling windows (left), peering over the Sunset Strip and vaster Hollywood panoramas (from floors 6 and up). Free Illy espresso, wine, and rotating snacks lure guests at all hours to the lobby, while the complimentary (nonalcoholic) mini bar gives new meaning to raiding the fridge.
It was only natural to begin my L.A. experience with an A-list celebrity sighting. As I checked into the Andaz, who walks by me but Leonardo Di Caprio, heading to the hotel restaurant, RH, to dine on phenomenal southwestern French cuisine. Being my first night in L.A. I had double-booked myself for dinner, so I had little time to revel in my Leo sighting and headed directly for my first destination of the evening – the sexy Cecconi’s restaurant (www.cecconiswesthollywood.com) to mingle among the svelte, calorie-conscious clientele and then rebelliously feast on the decadent pizza showered in freshly shaved white truffle.