Los Angeles, California
My relationship with Los Angeles is love/hate. It seems everyone has an opinion on this sprawling city and through the course of a weekend here, I was either 100% ready to move to LA (guacamole! Venice Beach! sunshine!!) or I was cursing the place entirely (traffic. traffic. TRAFFIC!). Wherever you fall on the spectrum, LA was the perfect backdrop to a much needed girls weekend full of laughs, cocktails and some damn fine food. Lucy and Ihad a long list of places to go and people to see, and somehow we managed to get through most of it...
WHERE TO STAY
Los Angeles is rife with cool lodging options with a new flush of hotels opening within the last few years. The Standard in West Hollywood was more of a scene than we bargained for, but our room was spacious and the water pressure in the shower out of this world. Breakfast at the pool was delicious. Don't miss the Warby Parker pop-up shop in the lobby; crucial if you "accidentally" forget your sunglasses.
Chateau Marmont is classic Old Hollywood (Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo were frequent guests) and the people watching in the storied lobby bar is epic.
Shutters on The Beach has a beautiful oceanfront location with stunning views of the Pacific. The location offers easy access to Santa Monica.
The Avalon Hollywood looks straight out of Mad Men with a swinging pool to match.
WHAT TO DO
Runyon Canyon is a great place to work off all those pesky pounds (this is LA after all...). You'll need proper sneakers and plenty of water.
After your grueling workout, book yourself a massage at The Now. The space is super zen and the services are affordable.
The Stahl House is a Mid Century masterpiece ranking high on the list of iconic American architecture. Tours are offered daily and the views are spectacular. Tip: Try to book a coveted sunset tour.
It wouldn't be LA without the beach; both Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier are great places to get your fix of Vitamin Sea.
Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach has a host of great shops and boutiques. Standouts include Bazar and The Piece Collective. Off the main drag is General Store, a must for beautifully curated gifts.
In Silverlake, Mohawk General Store stocks a beautiful range of items from Mansur Gavriel, Acne and Dries Van Noten. The men's store is just down the street.
At the Brentwood Country Mart, Jenni Kayne delivers a tightly curated mix of wonderful basics. The price point is high, but these are investment pieces. At least that's what I tell myself.
In Melrose, The Isabel Marant store is a cactus lovers dream. The Row space is is worth a look; only in LA is it totally normal to have a swimming pool smack dab in the middle of the shop. The Apartment by The Line is full of beautiful things in an equally beautiful space.
WHERE TO EAT
The Los Angeles food scene is really hitting it's stride these days, and we had our fill of delicious meals while visiting.
Gracias Madre is having a serious moment. If you're Vegan, this is a must visit spot for tasty Mexican, though as a diehard carnitas fan, I like it better for margaritas and appetizers at the bar. Tip: For dinner, request a table outside in the beautiful courtyard.
For breakfast, SQIRL is not to be missed. It seems avocado toast is popping up on every menu these days, but this one (lathered with creme fraiche and topped with ribbons of spicy, pickled carrots) takes the cake. Grab some homemade jam for a delicious souvenir. Tip: To beat the queue, try getting there on the early side (they open daily @ 8am).
You don't expect great things from a place like Laurel Hardware, where the focus seems to be on cocktails and attractive people milling about, but you'd be hard pressed to find better food in the area. The pizza is outstanding (get the classic), but we couldn't stop raving about the perfectly tender octopus. Tip: Request a table in the back where the atmosphere is much livelier.
No trip to Venice is complete without stopping at Gjelina. Don't worry, the food lives up to the hype: they have terrific pizzas and do some pretty special things with vegetables. Tip: If the wait is too long, pop next door to Gjusta Bakery and grab takeaway for a beach picnic.
Joan's on Third has a couple locations sprinkled throughout LA, and they're all great for lunch; the Chinese Chicken salad is an old standby, huge and totally shareable.
Cecconi's is classic Italian with a killer happy hour.
Lucques is a warm and inviting space with a seasonal menu plus inventive cocktails.
Alfred Coffee is famous for it's "But first, Coffee" signage, but the coffee here is no joke. Have a seat on the patio and enjoy!
If only every breakfast could happen at Republique. It's a gluten lovers paradise with freshly baked pastries and breads. If you can't make it for breakfast, they're open for lunch and dinner too.
Hinoki & The Bird is a slick, industrial space in the heart of Century City, with a creative tapas style menu.
Sweet Rose Creamery has a few locations, but the flavors rotate throughout. Go to whichever one is scooping Fresh Mint with homemade chocolate chips. Oh, and get it in a chocolate waffle cone, because YOLO.
A bit further afield, Malibu Farm is without a doubt, worth whatever kind of road rage inevitably awaits you. The food is thoughtful and beyond flavorful, but the view breathtaking. Set on a pier, overlooking the water, it's hard not to feel the California Love here.
Being near the ocean, the craving for seafood is inevitable. Don't fight it. Instead, get yourself to Salt Air for oysters and cold, crispy rosé.
GOOD TO KNOW
Everything you've heard about the traffic in Los Angeles is 100% the truth. The city is sprawling and driving is an absolute necessity (renting a car is essential). So be prepared to spend a lot of time in your car; it's a drag, but the destination is usually worth it...