Eat, Play & Stay: My guide to returning to Los Angeles, California

In my late twenties, I visited Los Angeles, California for the very first time. It swept me off my feet and, to date, has been one of my longest running travel love affairs. While, this past year has seen us all put travel on hold, I’ve spent a great deal of it planning and scheming for future adventures. Part of that activity has been looking back at what I’ve already done, while also dreaming of places I’ve yet to check off my list in the process.

Once the world reopens for travel, one of my first trips will be a road trip up California’s coastline, on Route 1, starting in LA and heading up to Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo for a true Californian experience. With that in mind, I thought I could offer a little travel inspiration by way of a travel guide to Los Angeles, where many visitors to the state of California arrive for the start of their many adventures. There is so much to do, to see and explore in Los Angeles!

I have never before put, into one place, all that I’ve seen, loved and recommended to close friends over the years. This is a guide that has been much requested and is, in a word, intense! I’ve broken it down into three categories, as these are the three categories I operate under while in town: Eat, Play and Stay Los Angeles!

Before we kick off with my travel guide to LA, a word of advice in getting there from London! In all my years of travelling to and from this beautiful part of the world, 75% of my flights have been with British Airways. This is an airline that has been a trusted partner in my travel experiences around the globe and one I have always highly recommended over time, in both a sponsored and non sponsored capacity… my air miles tell the true tale of just how heavily I rely on this airline! Below, just before we start the guide, is some information I hope you will find useful in planning any future trips to the great state of California!

***This post is written in collaboration with British Airways and Visit California.***

If you’re like me and looking to book a holiday now (something to look forward to), I’m pleased to report that British Airways offer all customers the option to book now and change later with BA’s flexible booking option.

A few more things to note when booking your holiday with British Airways from London to Los Angeles:

  • Deposits now from £60pp, balance due 3 weeks before travel
  • ATOL Protected – keeping you and your money safe
  • Enhanced cleaning standards on British Airways flights
  • Award-winning COVID-19 safety standards and flexible tickets mean you can travel with confidence, as you enjoy quality onboard catering, generous baggage allowance and their usual warm, uniquely British service (nothing will ever replace afternoon tea in the sky with British Airways)
  • Direct flights with BA into California – including LAX – and great SoCal itineraries on BA Holidays making it easier than ever for a California holiday 

Now that we’ve got the “how you’re going to get there” sorted, let’s dive into what you’re going to do when your feet touch down on California soil…

I’ll say that this is a one woman guide. Los Angeles is a massive city and it offers so much to so many. I encourage to use this guide as a jumping off point. Dive deep into the many travel guides that exist out there for the Los Angeles area, please check out Visit California… the authority on all things up to date and “must do” in the state for whenever you are visiting! . Surf Pinterest, explore the back catalogues of travel magazines. Get lost in all this beautiful place has to offer, because the landscape is forever changing and no one person, not even a local, has the scoop on it all. With that being said, here’s my historic scoop (and please excuse the fact that the pictures are all as professional as you’re used to… this is stretching back, in some parts, to before blogging days!).

EAT

The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker

8653 West Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 {West Hollywood}

This is one of the most instagrammable restaurants in the area and for good reason. First of all, the name should attract everyone and their uncle. Honestly, that is just absolute brilliance! But, the food and the coffee are truly marvellous. With seats indoors or out (always sit out when you can in LA… that Vitamin D is just as important as your morning eggs for energy), you will feel like an LA local sipping your coffee in style. The staff are enormously friendly and their take away cups are keepers. For me, this is my regular breakfast haunt if I’m staying in West Hollywood. Truly, cannot say enough about this beaut.

Ysabel

945 N Fairfax Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046 {West Hollywood}

Another instagram friendly spot here for you.  Yet also another discreet LA eatery where you could easily envisage a royal dining experience. This venue is for people in search of a true culinary delight with a side of spectacular in decor. With beautiful trees growing inside the restaurant, a greenhouse sitting just to one side of the venue and a bar that is full of “Hollywood types” from arrival to departing, it’s easy to see how this is the place for people spotting. However, the real joy is found with the food. The chefs at Ysabel present a feast of original dishes that are tastebud tantalisers. This is a West Hollywood must!!!! No excuses….

HIDE Sushi

2040 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025 {West Los Angeles}

Los Angeles is crawling with sushi places. Seriously, you could eat in a different sushi restaurant every day of the year and still not cover them all. Those in the know, however, will tell you that there’s only one place to get great sushi in LA- Hide Sushi. Only they don’t like to share this secret too openly as once the secret’s out it makes it that much tougher for them to get a table. You see, Hide Sushi doesn’t take reservations. It is quite literally a hole in the wall in Los Angeles. When you come in, you have write your name on a wipe board and wait for a table to become free. Your name is called, you sit, place your order and wait as roll after roll is placed in front of you. The prices are so cheap you can afford to eat sushi like you would a pizza. Devour it! Only make sure you have enough cash in your pocket to support your large appetite. Hide sushi only takes cash.

Alfred’s Coffee

{Various Locations around LA}

I’m sure at this point everyone has seen a cup of tea or coffee from Alfred’s. In this neck of the woods there are now two spots for Alfred’s. It all comes down to whether you want beans or leaves (read that as coffee beans or tea leaves). Both spots are once again instagram heavens, so they’ll most likely be a bit of a line. But, if you’re into your caffeine fixes, you’ll appreciate the end result. This is one my favourite coffee houses in Los Angeles.

The Milk Shop

{Various Locations in LA}

If you’re looking for fun with ice cream, pop into The Milk Shop. They invented the macaron ice cream sandwich and many more adventures with ice cream and various cookies! Pop in for a sweet treat on a hot day. You won’t be disappointed. And yes, those are fruity pebbles on my sandwich!

 

California Donuts

3540 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90020 {Central LA}

California Donuts is an institution in Los Angeles society. Imagine donuts offered in more flavours than Baskin Robbins ice cream. Picture big white boxes overflowing with creations that not only feature one offs like Oreo cookie panda donuts, but also bits of bacon, Lucky Charm cereal and more frosting fabulousness than you can ever expect to find in one tiny hole in the wall. California Donuts doesn’t just stand by and rest on a few classic donut moments – they’re always in “invention” mode and the end result is nothing short of fantastic.

Rae’s Restaurant

2901 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 {Santa Monica}

Some of my favourite spots in Los Angeles are places that were opened nearly half a century ago. For example, my go-to spot for breakfast in LA is Rae’s. If you’re not American and you’re looking for the authentic old school experience, make sure Rae’s is on your list. This diner is another cash only adventure, but you won’t need more than a twenty to feed two of you. Thank heavens for that as I went with a dear friend and between us we only had $19 in our pockets.

Pink’s Hot Dogs

709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles 90039 {Fairfax}

Pink’s is a bit of an institution. Hot dog enthusiasts know that this is THE place to chow down on your dirty dog. It doesn’t get much more real than this, folks. Pink’s is the the top dog, end of, and has been for 75 years! This is a Los Angeles institution with lines that can stretch around the block. My first hot dog was named after Martha Stewart and eaten at 9:30am!

Abbot’s Pizza

1407 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291 {Venice Beach}

This is my favourite place to grab a slice of pizza while in town. I grab and go, wandering the famous Abbot Kinney with pizza in hand with no shame. Another institution in this town and great for a takeaway if you want to grab a pizza with friends to eat on the beach or in someone’s beach house 🙂 Oh, and try the salad pizza. I know it sounds “so LA,” but it truly is a slice of pie like nothing you’ve had in your life.

Home

1760 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027 {Silverlake}

If you were to judge restaurants on signage alone, this one would win a gold medal in my heart. As you walk to the entrance you feel as if you are entering an establishment that was misplaced with Dorothy in the Land of Oz. It has a warmness and originality that definitely leads many to walk through the front gates for the first time.

However, the food at Home in LA in will have you coming back time and again. Large brunch parties all gathered around us as we waited for out food to arrive – acorns being our only additional guests, occasionally landing on the seats beside us, having fallen from the trees above in gentle winds. The red velvet pancakes are famous, but the french toast and scrambled eggs are just simple goodness on a plate – my staple. The Bloody Mary is a meal in itself – give this a go – and smoked salmon benedict looks like it came straight from heaven.

Honey’s Kettle

9537 Culver Blvd, Culver City, Los Angeles 90232 {Culver City}

(Additional locations now open, consult website for nearest to you)

This is Honey’s Kettle – a non pretentious family-run outlet in Culver City that is responsible for, what I believe to be, the best fried chicken in Los Angeles. I’m not the first person to write about Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken and I doubt I’ll be the last. People Magazine, The Food Network, Los Angeles magazine and many more have all taken a turn at the counter at Honey’s Kettle, and have all walked away with the same verdict- this chicken is life changing. The secret is the honey… but I’ll let you discover the rest. Don’t miss this!

PLAY

Stahl House

1635 Woods Dr, West Hollywood, CA 90069 {By Reservation Only in West Hollywood}

Stahl House is precariously placed in the Los Angeles hills, sitting atop a cliff, with the most spectacular views of city laid out at its feet. It’s easy to understand why the owner and architect would think a space with unobstructed views would work best for this construction. Every single room in the house is fronted with panes of glass. And each and every room offers a unique view of the beautiful city, best discovered at the magic hour when the sun sets into the ocean in the distance.

Restoration Hardware Rooftop

​8564 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069 {West Hollywood}

If you’re into interiors but also love a roof with a view, make sure and hit up the rooftop of Restoration Hardware in West Hollywood. As if walking through the store wasn’t interiors goals enough, they’ve created the most dreamy roof terrace with a view and a seat or two for you to rest your West Hollywood tourist toes.

Rodeo Drive

{Beverly Hills}

The stores here sell everything your local Louis, Ralph, Dolce and more sell, but there’s something very special about the decadent interiors found with each one of these locations. This is a shopping theme park. You find yourself wanting to walk into every store, swinging bags and waiting for your Pretty Woman moment when you can turn around and say, “do you work on commission? Big Mistake, huge! I have shopping to do.”

Union Station

800 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 {Downtown}

Many decades have passed since the construction of Union Stations and the building, and all its contents, feel frozen in time. Marble inlaid floors, leather waiting chairs, giant wooden ticket desks and information terminals have all been preserved perfectly. I had seen the station before, featured over time, in everything from classic Hollywood movies to glossy magazine photo shoots. However, nothing could have prepared me for seeing the space in the flesh. It’s a historian’s dream, a photographer’s dream, and a dream for anyone who appreciates the beauty of times long gone by. It is still used as a functioning train station today, but is visited by thousands who come to admire this step back in time.

Silverlake Heart Stairs

3324 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 {Silverlake}

I’m sure you’ve seen this on Instagram time and again! But, they really are spectacular to see in person. And I do have a good friend that took the sweetest engagement photos there. Just a lovely spot to visit as you’re exploring the neighbourhood of Silverlake!

Downtown Los Angeles

I’ve actually written a guide to this already, so I’m going to ask you to click over to read in full, rather than reproducing it here. This is a guide to spending 24 hours in the city of Downtown Los Angeles. It includes everything from rooftop bars to bookstores you can’t live your life without visiting… truly! I have been a big fan of Downtown Los Angeles for years, at it is truly a slice of American history that has seen a great deal of love and investment over the years. It is a neighbourhood on the rise.

Sunset on the beach

{Santa Monica}

I know this might sound like something so basic it need not be mentioned. But please, put your feet in the Pacific Ocean while in town. If you can do it at sunset, all the better. It’s too beautiful and too soul fulfilling to not have this on your Los Angeles itinerary!

STAY

Beverly Hills Hotel 

9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 {Beverly Hills}

Over three years ago now, I stayed in The Beverly Hills for the first time. It was everything I ever dreamt it would be. Banana leaf lined hallways, pink and green decorating every corner of the hotel and luxurious guests swanning around this way and that. One night here and you actually do start to believe you’re part of the Hollywood set. Worth every single penny… if only to stay there for one night!

Farmer’s Daughter

115 S. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90036 {Beverly Grove}

If you are looking for something chic, inexpensive and perfectly located for shopping at The Grove, this is your hotel. It reminds me a lot of a Soho House property, with it’s decor and very chic clientele. It’s no frills, but full of beautiful, well thought out, details, scattered around the hotel. Staff are friendly and the Farmer’s Market is just around the corner for those wanting any variety of foods throughout their stay!

Sofitel Los Angeles

8555 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, California {Beverly Hills}

Sofitel LA is filled with delightful employees, is an absolutely bargain price for one night and provided more than I could have ever anticipated. It was the best sleep I had while in LA (maybe anywhere ever actually) and I really did love the layout of the room and the way in which everything just seemed to click perfectly, from the beautiful space in the room to the over-the-top breakfast bar on the ground floor. This is a hotel I would definitely recommend to anyone visiting LA, especially if you are looking for an extra special place to stay without bending the budget to infinity and beyond.

Hotel Bel-Air

701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles, CA 90077 {Bel-Air}

The Hotel Bel-Air is a true paradise in the heart of Los Angeles. Honestly, if one could dream for a home away from home, it would be found here. While it’s sister hotel, the Beverly Hills, is a place to see and and be seen, the Hotel Bel-Air is an escape for the who’s who of Hollywood. Those in search of a respite from the hustle and bustle of awards season and beyond, find it here within the pink walls of the Hotel Bel-Air.

Palihouse Santa Monica

1001 Third Street, Santa Monica, California 90403 {Santa Monica}

So here’s the bottom line. It’s not cheap at Palihouse, but nothing in Santa Monica is. I was looking at other options on the shore that would have cost me four times what I was paying to stay in Palihouse, and provided 1/5 the living space. The living space here is ginormous! In the end, my bum would thank me for staying a few blocks from the ocean, forcing me to walk further every day. And the walk… oh the walk. There are few things more pleasurable than walking the streets of Santa Monica on a beautiful day. And, people, we’re in LA – when is any day not beautiful?

The London West Hollywood

1020 N San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, 90069 {West Hollywood}

Rumour has it that at one point the hotel even allowed guests to call home to London for free. Not sure if that’s still true and didn’t actually get a chance to test it myself, but it’s a nice touch. They even have two English Bulldogs in residence. Yes, they’ve gone large on the British front. But, the interiors feel anything but old school British. It’s all mod cons in here with fabulous retro contemporary decor, bathrooms as large as most one bedroom flats in the Big Smoke and little touches throughout the hotel that will remind you of home. One thing that won’t remind you of home is the insane roof terrace with the most insane view of the city. Sadly, on my stay, I brought the English weather with me and it rained for my first 48 houses in town. So no roof terrace drinks for me! But one look at their instagram or website and you’ll see that this is one of the hottest spots for sunny afternoon cocktails.

ACE Hotel

929 S Broadway {Downtown Los Angeles}

I’ve only ever stayed at The Ace in Downtown Los Angeles. That, for me, means a lot. The Ace is beautiful. The staff are above and beyond friendly and the rooftop is Los Angeles dreams come true. This hotel is everything you would think Downtown LA would be and more. Come to stay, come to play or come to eat. Also ask to see the grand Art Deco theatre next door. This will blow your mind!

The Beverly Hilton

9876 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 {Beverly Hills}

There is nothing flashy or over the top about The Beverly Hilton. The rooms are understated and simple, yet comfortable and felt very much like a slice of luxurious home. Each room has exactly what you need, nothing more nothing less, and it all works perfectly. Now, what does exceed expectations is customer service. Every member of staff was so friendly and worked so hard to accommodate every possible need you could have. It’s easy to understand why celebrities love to call this hotel home when in Beverly Hills.

Shutters on The Beach

1 Pico Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405 {Santa Monica}

There is most certainly a reason why when one thinks of Santa Monica, the mind instantly wanders off to Shutters on the Beach. The hotel is a Southern California landmark and deserves every bit of recognition it receives. The four poster beds, the crisp blue and white colour pallette, cozy corner chairs and room length shutters all play a part in distinguishing this hotel as a real lesson in classic and timeless design. Search engines are overflowing with pictures from Shutters that are searchable by the words Hamptons decordream beach houseperfect interior design and America’s finest. Get the picture? It’s a place to see and be seen, a place to study and emulate – in your own home or cottage on the sea. It’s also a location where you’ll find just as many locals as visiting tourists.

Hotel Casa Del Mar

1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405 {Santa Monica}

Hotel Casa del Mar is a place to see and be seen in Santa Monica. It’s also a place to stay with a killer view of the Santa Monica Pier and access to the beach that is unparalleled. You wake up with your feet practically in the sand, people. Does it get any better? When you’re laying on your bed letting the waves sing you to sleep I think you’ll agree that it doesn’t get much closer to heaven. With 129 guest rooms, a pool with an ocean view and a lobby that will remind you of the hotel’s former life as a swinging beach club in the 1920s, this hotel experience isn’t short of highlights. Whether eating dinner in the seafood restaurant, Catch, or taking time for breakfast with a view of breaking waves – there are plenty of options for moments that will amuse your tastebuds and beyond!

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1 Comment

  1. 3rd December / 3:49 pm

    I long to return to LA soon!

    Danielle | thereluctantblogger.co.uk

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