I just came back from my trip to LA over New Years. It was the first time I was there, and I was staying together with my boyfriend in Santa Monica at Hotel Casa del Mar.
Some thoughts on the hotel…
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Originally built in 1926 as the grandest of the opulent beach club hotels and the premier playground for Hollywood A-listers, @hotelcasadelmar was founded with a commitment to extraordinary service and privacy. Check out this beachfront escape in our Staycations & Destinations issue #DREAMS
The hotel itself was good, perhaps not the most classy or luxurious 5star hotel I’ve stayed at, but cozy with excellent location by the beach. In the evenings we could see the sunset from our bed, and in the mornings we rented bikes to cycle along the beach.
There were a few minus’es with this place though. A surprisingly small pool and sunbed area, only one restaurant at the hotel, small rooms, and very basic gym. The good side was the extensive and cozy lobby bar, live music at the hotel, sunsets, excellent service and cute decor in the rooms. I won’t complain as I’m sure we’ll come back and stay here again!
So what did I think of LA?
Disclaimer. What I will say is only my personal opinion, and I’m not here to offend anyone. I just want to be honest with my first impressions; perhaps they will change on my next visit.
- I was shocked at the number of homeless people! It was striking to see so many people live on the streets since the US is such a modern and developed country, I did not expect that!
- Where are all the classy people? During my trip, I saw only one person who was dressed like a JetsetBabe (she was Asian and walking on Rodeo Drive). Every time we went to a restaurant or nice hotels, I never saw anyone looking of high-standard. You could see some people were wealthy, but they weren’t dressed very well (men looked like ragamuffins, girls looked like the Kardashians). In fact, it made me appreciate Europe and the sense of Fashion that we have over here. Perhaps it was the wrong timing, or maybe I was “unlucky.”
- The distances… How can people live this way? How can people socialize with each other if it takes at least an hour to drive somewhere? It must be difficult keeping relationships going with friends, family, etc. when the distances are so far? I could not see myself living in LA due to this.
- In Europe (in the big cities at least) we tend to walk a lot, and there are always people on the streets. LA felt so empty and isolated, since everyone is always in their cars, with little pedestrians on the streets. I didn’t like that, especially since I’m the one who enjoys walking everywhere. The vibe I got was therefore very lonely and cold town, without any people in sight…
- Airconditioning everywhere even though it was like 10 degrees celsius outdoors. Why??
- Beautiful surroundings, with the long beaches, sunsets, palm trees and greenery. Not to mention the climate, even though I thought it was going to be warmer (I was wearing my coat most of the times).
- Such friendly people and excellent service! I love positivity and Americans are extremely good at that. Sure, you can call it fake, but better fake than a negative vibe!
- The standard of the food was excellent almost everywhere we went, even though their portion sizes were sometimes too large. The plus for the Organic health craze in LA, so it’s easy to find green juices, Acai bowls and all that jazz for people like me.
- Loads to do with great variety! Me and my boyfriend are not really the “sightseeing” types, we’re a bit lazy in that department. But we went to the Getty Villa (I confused it with the Getty Museum where I wanted to go in reality), we saw Rodeo Drive, Malibu, Santa Monica, Hollywood stars, West Hollywood and Venice beach.
- The absolute highlight of my trip was the whole day tour at Warner Brothers Studios. So interesting to discover where many famous movies and tv-series were made! I learned plenty about the film industry in that day, and it was so exciting walking around on the real sets and look at props, costumes, etc. Took so many photos for once!
Which restaurants did we visit?
Unfortunately, not much partying on this trip because we were too jet-lagged. Had to skip several dinners in the evening because we fell asleep at 6 pm. But oh well, next time…
Here are some reviews:
The Ivy Beverly Hills – Cute decor, extremely busy, good food, felt a bit touristy.
The Ivy at The Shore (Santa Monica) – Same cute decor, same food, less busy and touristy.
Cecconi’s – Beautiful decor, bigger and better than the one in London, not many people at lunch, delicious food.
Mr. C (Cipriani) – Same decor and food as in all the Cipriani’s worldwide, up to standard, completely empty, it was us plus two more tables the entire evening, felt a bit disappointing due to that.
Catch – Good food with nice decor, loved the ambience!
The Beverly Hills Hotel – Had brunch here on New years day. Food was good, crowd was extremely mixed, it was nice to listen to a live band and the place was much smaller than I expected.
Bazaar by José Andrés – The food was not great, the crowd was weird, and the decor was awkward. We sat on some very strange chairs, and the area where we were in the restaurant was a bit isolated
Nobu Malibu – The best restaurant of the entire trip. Every dish was superb, we got an amazing table with sea view, the crowd was still so-so, but at least the place was busy! If I come back to LA, Nobu (and Cecconi’s maybe) would be the only places I would re-visit.
…This was my review of LA!
Me and boyfriend agreed to come back here in peak season to compare the differences. I hope next time I get to see a busier side to the city, with better weather, more party and more people on the streets and in the restaurants. Perhaps coming the first time during winter season played a significant role in my negative impressions. I think it will change next time around!