For many inhabitants of rival cities like New York and Chicago, disparaging Los Angeles is a popular pastime. L.A. may have gorgeous weather and gorgeous movie stars, they concede, but the ethos is shallow, the smog is thick, and the traffic is insufferable. Such thoughts comfort those obliged to slog through the slush each winter. Alas, they are largely untrue. In fact, as we found on a recent visit, Los Angeles can be a delight, with friendly people, a thriving art scene, sensational restaurants and, yes, the occasional movie star sighting. The public transportation options deserve whatever ridicule they receive, but the traffic is not much worse than in other large conurbations. Indeed, I challenge anyone to rent a late-model convertible and not enjoy driving in L.A.
Our suggested hotels were clustered together in Beverly Hills and Bel Air, and those neighborhoods are still fine places in which to stay. They are at least half an hour from downtown, however, and downtown Los Angeles has seen a major (if incomplete) renaissance in recent years. In spite of some remaining grit, it is now home to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars, as well as major cultural institutions like the Broad museum and the neighboring Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Arts District houses numerous galleries and stylish shops in converted warehouses, and some luxury hotels have now opened. The NoMad Hotel, occupying a grand former bank building, is the most stylish of these, but with 241 rooms, it is clearly no hideaway.
In fact, all three of our hotels in Los Angeles had more than 100 rooms. I decided to see if I could find any boutique properties, ideally somewhere more convenient to the city’s resurgent downtown than Beverly Hills. I sought smaller hideaways to the east.