I’m embarrassed to admit that I lived for 29 years without visiting LA. I grew up on the East Coast, spoiled by the nearby New York City and content to explore the gems of Boston in my own backyard. Later, when I went to university in Vermont, if I was not frolicking in the snow on a secluded mountain, I was shopping (Underground City!) or eating (poutine!) or dancing (drinking age!) in the nearby city of Montreal. When I turned 22, I moved to Europe, and shifted my focus to exploring as many European cities as possible. Prague, Cologne, Milan, Paris, Berlin, Bruges, Istanbul, London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Dublin . . . I am proud to say that the list goes on and on. However, up until recently, my travels were admittedly quite European-centric. I did go to San Diego, California once when I was a kid, where I was traumatized by a popsicle incident. We were spending the day at Sea World, and had just seated ourselves at the porpoise show, where a small child sitting behind proceeded to drop a large chunk of his chocolate Shamu popsicle down my back. It slid into my khaki shorts where it left a big, brown poop-like stain. I had to walk around all day in the smoldering heat, looking like I shat myself at a seal show. And that’s all I really remember about California, other than the numerous signs warming of snakes, and big, dirt-like mountains. So I never really had a desire to go back to the West Coast, even though lumping together and generalizing my distaste for three coastal states (one of which is 800 miles long), based on an unfortunate incident with a Shamu popsicle, was somewhat naïve. However, this past year on numerous occasions, my work travels brought be back to the West Coast, and one of those stops just so happened to be LA. Side note: I actually applied to jobs in LA when I stopped working at Sid Lee! I’m definitely ready to live in a warmer climate (sorry, Amsterdam), and LA is a great North American hub for advertising. Alas, LA was meant to be in my life in a different capacity at this time, and so serendipitously, I ventured there for a shoot with my new job at Booking.com. So let me tell you a little about LA . . .^ ^ Flying into LA was like landing on the moon.LA is big. Like, it could swallow Boston for a light breakfast, big. Each neighborhood has a distinct vibe, although palm trees, effortless fashion, too many cars, great restaurants, and an eclectic mix of trendy people seem to overflow from one borough to the next. We stayed at the Sunset Marquis, a hip boutique hotel that popped up before boutique hotels were hip. Nestled in West Hollywood, right off of the Sunset strip (where some of the world’s first rock clubs were located), the Sunset Marquis was built for the entertainment industry – it even has a recording studio! The hotel quickly became a rock ‘n roll institution. If these walls could talk, they would whisper the secrets of Bob Marley, The Who, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Neil Diamond, Kings of Leon, and may more legends. My room was spacious and had a slightly retro vibe, with pops of lime green, abstract art, and funky fixtures. Outside, there were two pools, ample lounge chairs, and a lovely open air restaurant.^ ^ My hotel room at the Sunset Marquis. ^ ^ Views while walking around West Hollywood on my first night in town.^ ^ A glimpse of the famous Hollywood sign from my friend Shawn’s rooftop.In LA, I ate a lot of food. I also went to Equinox, a bad ass ‘beautiful people’ gym, so I think I kind of balanced things out . . . kind of. I definitely ate burgers at Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger. Shockingly, at dinner time, the line for Shake Shack stretched around three blocks! And so my boss and I snuck in for a late lunch one day, missing the long cues and sampling the namesake-shakes.
We had a full team family-style dinner at Son of a Gun, where we snacked on lobster rolls and gorged on dessert brioche hamburgers, stuffed with gianduja, caramel, and maldon – to DIE for!! As I was in LA for 10 days, we had a second team dinner later in the week at Osteria Mozza – they have a bespoke mozzarella bar, dozens of mouth watering antipastis, and an assortment of delicious pastas. HIGHLY recommended, and perfect for a date night :)
If you’re a sushi fanatic, you have to check out Nobu. I accidentally stumbled accross Nobu one night and decided to treat myself, as it was a quick walk from our hotel, and I was able to snag a seat at the sushi bar. Great sake, seaweed salad, and salmon tartare (I managed to easily kill $120 worth of food all by my lonesome!) Ohh, and I was seated next to Uncle Jesse from Full House!
The drinks in LA were also divine – we spent one evening in DTLA at Perch, a rooftop bar with a bird’s eye view of the city. I met my long lost friend Shawn (excitement!) for cocktails at Bar Stella, which had a fun, cozy vibe and and delicious drinks. The Sunset Marquis also had crafted cocktails at the upscale Bar 1200 (another hot spot for celebrity spotting!) Shawn also kindly introduced me to Republique, which had awesome coffee and breakfast goodies, and Little Dom’s, where we ate hearty Italian food and caught up over cocktails.
I ventured out of West Hollywood for big, fat sloppy breakfast tacos in Sliver Lake at Millie’s Cafe, and my friend Zach introduced me to Leona in Venice, which had scrumptious, seasonal menu items and a cute outdoor dining area.^ ^ Greasy delicious bacon-y Shake Shack burgers!As I was in LA for work, I spent most of the time . . . . working! However, despite plowing through both weekends in LA working, I did manage to sneak off for an hour or two here and there, and also took a free day prior to my flight back as I worked for nearly 10 days straight!
One morning Shawn and I hiked up to Griffith Observatory, which was cliché but mandatory on a first visit to LA! I went shopping at Paul Smith, which was a cultural experience in and of itself, and I also spent a few hour shopping in Silver Lake, where I bought goodies at the Spice Station (tucked away behind an ivy-covered alleyway), Barkeeper (that sold strange and enchanting bitters), and Mohawk General Store (early Christmas shopping!) I also explored Venice Beach, walking along the ocean and weaving through adorable, palm-tree-lined neighborhoods, which were almost (but not really) akin to Amsterdam with their charming canal side houses.
^ ^ Shopping at Paul Smith on Melrose Avenue. ^ ^ Views from Perch in Downtown LA. ^ ^ View from our penthouse shoot in DTLA :) ^ ^ Hike up to Griffith Observatory. ^ ^ The charming Spice Station in Silver Lake.^ ^ Millie’s Cafe, a great joint for breakfast tacos in Silver Lake! ^ ^ Weaving my way up to Silver Lake (which turned out to be empty!) ^ ^ Sushi at Nobu ^ ^ Strolling in Venice Beach I left LA feeling like there was still so much more to do, see, taste, and explore! I can’t believe I waited almost 30 years before experiencing the The City of Angels, and I am hoping only a fraction of that time will elapse before I am back again! LA, thank you for the rays and the vibes, and everything else I knew you would be!