Hollywood: where summer travelers go to sneak onto film sets and take tours about town trying to snap shots of their favorite celebs. This neighborhood in La La Land has much more to offer than sightings of Tinseltown’s elite and if you’re planning to travel there this summer, be sure you make the most of your trip and enjoy it as much as I did. Lining the streets of the star-studded sidewalks are boutique hotels, innovative bars and restaurants, and attractions that’ll have you out and about enjoying that glorious Cali weather.
Two hotels–each within a block radius from famous Hollywood Boulevard–lure guests in with not only ideal locations, but with visionary interiors and quirky elements that provide guests with truly unique experiences.
Mama Shelter’s roots began in Paris and have since took hold in Marseilles, Lyon, Istanbul, Bordeaux and as of July 2015 , Los Angeles. “We only go to places where we would want to live,” said Benjamin Trigano, co-founder of the budget-boutique hotel. “Mama saw another sister city of lights filled with dreamers and beautiful contradictions, and we knew there was a home for her here.”
L.A. has welcomed Mama with open arms and in return, Mama has shown its love by supporting the local art community, which is evident upon walking through the front doors. Inside, dozens of local artists have offered chalk-drawn tributes to their Mamas on the ceiling; writings of love, words of grief, even recipes only Mamas knows how to perfect.
“Our version of cool is fun,” said Joseph Kirtley, General Manager at Mama Shelter Los Angeles. “We don’t try to be the new cool kids on the block, we try to be the new fun kids on the block.” Mama exudes a playful energy that truly makes it a one-of-a-kind place. Accenting each beside lamp are quirky masks–from rabbits to storm troopers–and residing next to each copy of the bible are other “sacred texts” like Keith Richards’ memoir Life. The 6-story, 70-room hotel offers rooms with sleek furnishings, large mirrors and not only king sized beds, but additional day beds with over-sized tie dye pillows.
If you’re game for a mix of luxury, rocker chic and bohemian vibes, than look no further than The Redbury. Behind the stunning hand-painted front door–situated a few feet from James Dean’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star–this all-suite boutique hotel features 57 guest suites that provide home-like atmospheres with European-style kitchens, walk-in rain showers and warm counterculture designed living rooms.
Stepping into the Sunset suite, I was in awe. To my right, a fully equipped modern style kitchen with an elevated dinning table. Ahead, an open living room with paisley walls, warm furnishings and art deco elements like wall mirrors and teal textured water glasses. To my left, a plush canopy bed with a homey picture frame arrangement above the headboard. Along with a 40-46″ HD LCD television with DVD player separating the living room from the bedroom–positioned on a swivel to be used in both areas–each suite comes with a record player and vinyl collection.
The hotel’s red-bricked exterior and funky Hollywood aesthetics don’t just attract guests looking for a trendy place to stay. Don’t be surprised if you see your fair share of photoshoots gracing the well designed lobbies or lavish parties taking place at the indoor-outdoor lounge known as The Library. With the famous Capitol Records building located across the street, you never know who will stop by for drink or bite to eat.
Restaurants & Bars
Mama says, never skip breakfast! Start your day off right with a hearty breakfast from Mama Shelter’s restaurant with a menu made up of simple cuisine, inspired by French and American traditions. They even have an entire menu dedicated to gourmet waffles. My go to was the Rise & Shine with savory bacon stripes and a sunny-side up egg sandwiched between two crisp waffles drizzled in maple syrup. If you have an appetite for something more adventurous, I’d suggest the Taco Waffle with short rib quisado and salsa verde. In true Mama Shelter fashion, while I was there on St. Patty’s Day, they dyed my waffles green! Those of you visiting on the Fourth of July, be sure to stop in and see what they have in store to celebrate.
Mama also approves of a well deserved drink or two at the end of the day and offers two bars of choice to meet your celebratory needs. If you’re looking to enjoy more than just conversation, Mama’s first floor bar is where you need to meet up with a group. The tables situated around the perimeter of the bar have board games like Monopoly and Checkers etched into the countertops for guests to enjoy a game night out. If you’re looking to relax and take in a spectacular view of the Hollywood Sign, Mama’s newly opened rooftop bar is where it’s at. Lounge with friends along multicolored Mexican-themed day beds while sipping on one of Mama’s crafted cocktails like the Y Tu Mama’ Tambien made with Avion tequila or vida mezcal, almond syrup, lime, and jalapeno–perfect for us Texans who like a little spice!
Cleo at The Redbury is a trendy dining hot spot with Mediterranean vibes and shareable platters in the heart of Hollywood. A concept created by culinary mastermind Chef Danny Elmaleh, known for blending diverse cuisines to create exotic dishes, Cleo’s open kitchen and communal tables make for an inviting atmosphere for folks from all walks of life. Signature dishes include crafted kebabs with Scottish salmon or lamb, and sharable dips like babaghanoush or muhamara & pomegranate dip.
For the thrifter, quench your thirst for vintage finds at Iguana Vintage Clothing at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. Scope the racks for that Beatles concert tee or pair of distressed high-waisted Levi’s you’ve been on the hunt for. Even better, jump start on your Christmas party attire with racks of ugly Christmas sweater options! You don’t know what treasures you’ll find in this three-story blast to the past!
For the artist, book an Uber and make the 15 minute drive down to 6th and S. Fairfax to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). You won’t regret it! Since opening in 1965, LACMA has become the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection that includes nearly 130,000 objects. One of the museum’s most iconic collections is Urban Light by Chris Burden, a large-scale sculpture made up of 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps and was even featured in the film No Strings Attached.
For the walker, going on vacation doesn’t mean you have to push the pause button on your workout regime. The best place in Hollywood to get your steps in, as well as enjoy the sights, is Griffith Park where 4,210 acres of both natural terrain and landscaped parkland cater to residents and visitors alike. Home to the Hollywood Sign, the Griffith Park Observatory, the Greek Theatre and more than 53 miles of trails, this won’t be your average walk around the neighborhood.
Don’t make your trip to Hollywood all about the stars. Explore, experience, but most of all, enjoy!