Host of the Grand Tourist Podcast, Dan Rubinstein shares his must visit spots to source, sleep, eat and dine in Los Angeles
My earliest memory of Los Angeles comes from an overnight visit to my cousin’s midcentury house in the Hollywood Hills as a child. I was probably 8 years old or so.
I remember waking up early, and having cereal at a breakfast table in the kitchen. The entire main floor of the house has floor-to-ceiling windows, so you could see the entire city below you—it was magical. On that morning, the fog covered the metropolis like a fluffy blanket with only the tippy top of a single tower popping up through the clouds. I loved it.
But I hated the city. To me—Disneyland aside, of course—the town was all shopping malls, traffic, and asphalt. And my opinion of L.A. stayed that way for some time. That was, until after the Great Recession, when I heard about one design friend of mine moving there each week. Better weather, cheaper real estate, and the ability to work outside for some all year round. What’s not to like? It had become so difficult for young creatives to make a statement in New York, and L.A. was ready for change.
Today, L.A. has emerged as one of the most exciting destinations for American creativity, entrepreneurship, and of course, design. The art world has exploded there due to fairs like Frieze, galleries of all stripes are opening West Coast satellites, the culinary scene has evolved and matured considerably, and the city has transformed itself from a one-industry-town into a desirable, vibrant destination where the entertainment industry seems like a strange afterthought.
Here are some of my new favorite places, new and old, in Los Angeles:
There’s no shortage of design destinations in a city that once had very little. New York galleries such as The Future Perfect and R & Company have both opened by-appointment spaces there, the former taking over the palatial 1916 Goldwyn House. But there are many spots that are native to the city: Marta explores emerging and experimental designs on Sunset Boulevard, but with more expansive pop-ups taking place for special exhibitions. For those looking for 20th century finds, Seventh House gallery in Hollywood is housed in a Frank Gehry building originally built for graphic designer Louis Danziger. And for a bit of everything just a few doors down, antiques shop The Window is a local go-to for organic-looking vintage, accessories, and furniture in a double-height space. Also on Melrose: Galerie Half for furniture, and Object LA for, well, objects.
Proper Hotel LA, Image Credit: The Ingalls
If you’re looking to embrace that warm West Coast modernism everyone is so keen on at the moment, stay at Alsace in West Adams, a 48-room boutique hotel. Or if you’re looking for something that’s more socially busy, the Proper in downtown L.A. by Kelly Wearstler is a treat: the former social club shows that the city still has some architectural bones to it that go outside of midcentury modernism.
As Los Angeles further evolves into a more typical cosmopolitan town, private social clubs and shared workspaces have popped up all over town, taking advantage of the WFH lifestyle that the city is seemingly built for. NeueHouse has opened a Venice Beach location, New York’s Spring Place member’s club has an outpost designed by Kulapat Yantrasast’s wHY Architects in Beverly Hills. Soho House has multiple locations in town, including their latest, Soho Warehouse downtown. And if you’re in Hollywood and looking to pitch your script to some industry movers, The Aster might be more your speed.
If you have some free time for yourself, there are many places to shop. Near the shops on Melrose is Bode, which sells folksy-chic menswear. Teller in Culver City sells womenswear that carries many go-anywhere pieces from denim to install-appropriate mini-dresses. And if you’re just looking to browse and get inspired, there’s always something interesting at the immortal mainstay, Fred Segal.
On my last trip, I ate at the L.A. outpost of the Chicago restaurant The Girl & The Goat. I was skeptical about the name, but the fresh take on American Contemporary cuisine really floored me. Lots of shareable dishes like naan and pork shanks, and definitely leave room for the hazelnut ice cream. For Japanese, Leona’s in Studio City comes recommended for dinner, as does the comfort-food spot Pijja Palace for something fast if you find yourself in Silver Lake.
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