A Weekend in West Hollywood

27th April 2018

At the cultural and geographical heart of Los Angeles lies the legendary city of West Hollywood. Unusually for this notoriously drive-heavy metropolis, WeHo is pleasantly walkable and packed full of lures for design aficionados, foodies and health fanatics alike; we flew in to spend the weekend living like a Hollywood local.

There’s nothing quite like landing at LAX at sundown when the sun shimmers gold over the Hollywood hills beyond the plane wing. Uber and Lyft are a staple here if you’re not renting a car, but don’t bother trying to get one to pick you up from the airport if you’d like to retain your sanity – we hop in a cab at the taxi rank instead for our first taste of the classic Angeleno “every-hour-is-rush-hour” traffic.

There’s a wealth of hot property in the West Hollywood area, but the sultriest spot to rest your head is undoubtedly La Peer Hotel, which opened in January 2018 slap bang in the Design District. We swoop in and set up camp in a slick double room with concrete-effect walls adorned with delicate string art by Tanya Aguiniga, geometric metal pendant lights and crisp white sheets. But while the snapshot city views from our abode prove gorgeous, the bar downstairs is too compelling to miss. A cosy indoor-outdoor area leads to two courtyards – one houses the swish swimming pool and the other is a haven of seating scattered with patterned cushions. The drinks menu is extensive but ask the bartender to surprise you with something off the list. Bar food includes pizzas bubbling with mozzarella, charcuterie boards and other tasty snacks to soak up the booze.

Post-cocktails, if your bed isn’t calling (ours is, but we ignore it) – head on over to Shamrock Social Club on Sunset Boulevard for a little late-night ink. The parlour is owned by Mark Mahoney, whose former clients include Sid Vicious, the Notorious BIG and Johnny Depp to name a few. Toast your new body art with a drink across the road at the Rainbow Bar & Grill; Guns N’ Roses were once regulars at this edgy joint.

Breakfast spots are a dime a dozen in WeHo (to name a few; Alfred Coffee, Hugo’s and Urth), but when room service comes from La Peer's modern trattoria restaurant, Viale Dei Romani, we know we can't resist. Suitably fuelled on smashed avocado and scrambled eggs, we call upon Bikes and Hikes LA for the perfect blend of sight-seeing and exercise; you can choose from intense all-day bike tours (upgrade to electric bikes for an easier ride), or marvel at ostentatious movie star manors in Beverly Hills. We pick the Hollywood Hills Hike and our knowledgeable guide Andrew delivers a full-on Hollywood history lesson whilst simultaneously clambering up the steepest climes (our fault, not his), and even sneaks us through the back entrance to the Griffith Observatory for a swift tour of the cosmos before the crowds swarm in.

Back at La Peer, we're due a shower (and admittedly a martini) before we set out again to put WeHo’s walk-friendly reputation to the test. In the neighbourhood, literary space Book Soup is packed to the rafters with 60,000 titles, not to mention free author readings and signings, while one of MOCA’s three LA outposts – Pacific Design Center – has rotating exhibitions of design and architecture. The Design District is also where you’ll find a plethora of high-end showrooms jostling with fashion houses and art galleries.

Navigating copious restaurants to locate a prime dinner spot is a bit of a minefield, but sitting pretty on the corner of Melrose Avenue and Robertson Boulevard, Cecconi’s is always a safe bet. And if your bank account is screaming in reluctance, fear not; Cecconi’s has a clever menu from 4pm to 7pm Tuesday through Saturday with plates and selected drinks priced at $4, $7, and $9. After dinner there are plenty of bars to recline in – try newly opened Employees Only for innovative cocktails – but we swap liquor for laughs at WeHo institution, The Comedy Store.
Following a series of late nights, it's high time for some TLC, so we pop into Shape House on Robertson Boulevard for a kooky LA wellness experience. The beaming therapists wrap us up in oversized sleeping bags complete with an infrared system designed to make you sweat out all those weekend toxins. Firmly parked in front of our private screen with Netflix on tap, some heated down time and a flask of alkaline water takes us from jaded to sated in precisely 55 minutes.

Skipping Sunday brunch in LA would be sinful, so we hot-foot it over to Gracias Madre, a hipster-friendly vegan Mexican restaurant with soaring ceilings, patterned tiles and a tequila collection with a twist. Slide into a booth or prop up the bar and order a cannabis cocktail (high not included), followed by a bowl brimming with pico de gallo, cashew cream, pumpkin, tempeh chorizo, brown rice and guac. We can't resist settling in for a long, lazy afternoon of munching and people-watching, because after all, if there are two things that WeHo does exceptionally well, it’s captivating food and charismatic folks.
Rooms at La Peer Hotel start from $372 per night.
Words by Annie Biziou

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