Here we go with one giant LA city guide! I am excited to share this one because we managed to cover so much ground while we were there. We ate some of the best food I have ever had, and spent time with people who lived there which means you get to experience it like a local instead of a tourist. If you are planning a trip I would say you need a week as a bare minimum, but ideally longer. I could gladly go and spend a month or more out there, and I don't think you would run out of things to do.
The general thing to bear in mind is that public transport is awful there, and almost non-existent. You will have to either hire a car, or use Uber, which is much cheaper out there so is a completely viable option. I spent a lot of money while we were there, and prices felt similar to being in any major city. BUT, we were making no effort to do it on a budget, so I can guarantee you would be able to be a little more thrifty than we were. I think the current exchange rate didn't help either!
As I said, we covered a lot of ground. LA is huge, and you can easily spend an hour in an Uber to get from one side to the other. Choosing the area you stay in is super important for what you want to experience on your doorstep. We stayed in Beverly Hills the whole time, but managed to cover West Hollywood, Venice, Santa Monica and DTLA. Here is a little breakdown;
If I went back I would look to stay around here again, as it seemed really well located for everything. If you like to shop then this is the spot for you, with Barney's, Saks and all the boutiques on Rodeo Drive all being within walking distance from one another. Make sure to head to Barney's if retail therapy is what you're after, because it was an incredible one and all three of us left with a pair of shoes! I really enjoyed walking around Beverly Hills, you get some great people watching done and the wide and quiet streets make the whole place feel luxurious.
This spot is very hipster. Completely worth the visit but I wouldn't choose to stay here. That being said, we didn't explore too much of it. We actually didn't even go to the beach part, just Abbot Kinney. It's a street packed with cute boutique shops and some good eateries (more on that below). In terms of shopping you don't need more then a morning there as lots of the shops have a similar vibe so when you've done one you've kinda done them all. The street itself is a pleasure to wander down, and next time I will make sure to explore more of Venice too!
Located right next to Beverly Hills, you can easily walk between the two. Some of the best restaurants we went to were located in West Hollywood, and I think it would be an amazing area to stay in. Both Sunset Strip and Melrose are in this area too, two roads you are likely to find yourself on at some point. Melrose has some great shopping, and amazing boutiques. Make sure to head to The Line and also The Row for a really incredible shopping experience. Also Melrose is where you will find Reformation, which is next to the Paul Smith pink wall that is such an Instagram hit.
This was the only spot in LA that really felt like a city. Lots of high rise buildings, kind of a New York Soho vibe to it all. It felt like a completely different city and I loved it, but wouldn't choose to stay there - mostly because it's lacking those palm tree LA vibes. They do have some great shopping, the fanciest Urban Outfitters I have ever been to and BNKR which stocks all the amazing Australian brands that are hard to get your hands on here.
We split our trip over two hotels, the first of which we stayed in for four nights. The Avalon is pretty central in Beverly Hills, about a 20 minute walk to Rodeo Drive. It's an incredible hotel and I would stay there again in a heartbeat. It many ways it reminded me of a motel, but a super chic and fancy one. The rooms are all centred around the main pool area, with the open corridors looking down onto the pool. We had a suite which was huge, with a massive bed and super fancy bathroom. It was bright, very clean, and had lots of little luxuries like a coffee machine on request.
The star of the show at this hotel really is the pool area. We ate breakfast there everyday (which is amazing, the Energy Smoothie became a solid part of my morning ritual), and it's the most amazing sun trap for some serious sunbathing. There is so much colour in the hotel, all the walls are painted in bright geometric prints, then matched with minimal furniture throughout. The decor really is stunning and different to any hotel I have been to before, and a complete Instagram dream!
Address: 9400 W Olympic Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
This was our mega posh segment of the trip. The Four Seasons really do know how to do luxury. From a reception adorned in fresh flowers, to the biggest bedrooms ever (we do a very excitable tour in my LA vlog too), everything is done to the highest standard. The room was incredible, with an entire lounge, a giant bathroom, and two balconies looking over LA's famous palm lined roads. I think it may well be the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in, and possibly the biggest too! The hotel itself was huge, and a much less intimate experience than the Avalon. However, the pool area managed to always feel so quiet and private, despite the hotel having so many rooms. There is a gym, a spa, a fancy restaurant (make sure to order the pancakes for breakfast, they were amazing), and even some small garden areas to wander around. If you are looking for some luxury I think you would be hard pressed to find anything more luxurious than here... plus we saw Peter Dinklage while we were there so you can fit some celeb spotting in there too!
Thank you to Classic Collection Holidays for organising our stay there too!
Address: 300 S Doheny Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90048
1. Escuela Taqueria (pictured below)
This was one of the most affordable meals we had, and one of the best Mexican meals I have ever had! Lindsey and I both went for taco's, which come in small portions so would be great for a bit of tapas style sharing. The service was super fast and attentive, they aren't licensed but you can BYOB if you like to enjoy a little tequila with your Mexican.
Address: 7615 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
2. Beverly Hills Hotel
This was the most expensive meal we had, and it really is a pricey spot. If I were to review this based on the food alone, then I would say it wasn't worth the money. But it's all about the experience and not just the food. The Beverly Hills hotel is such an iconic place with so much history (apparently the history tour is well worth taking the time to do), and the setting is truly beautiful. Light pink booths, lush palms, and a really clever layout that makes every corner feel private and secluded. The drinks were amazing too, but at around $20 each you would expect them to be. All in all I would say that it's worth it for the experience, and make sure you take your time there - also we asked at reception to have a nosey at the pool they were very accommodating, and make sure to sneak down the corridors to see the famous palm print wallpaper. You will 100% need to book here as far in advance as possible.
Address: 9641 Sunset Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
We headed here on our last night and it was the perfect way to end the trip. They had the best cocktail menu of everywhere we visited, and the food did not disappoint either. Again, we went for some sharing plates (lots of cauliflower, it's an oddly popular side dish there). Generally it's such a good way to order as there is so much choice on the menu so it really gives you chance to try lots of different things. The decor in here was gorgeous, the service incredible, and it had a lovely outside courtyard to let you really make the most of the LA heat.
Address :8752 West Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
4. Gjelinas (pictured below)
This was one of the best meals we had while we were there. Based on Abbot Kinney, this is a seriously popular lunch spot so be prepared to wait for a table. It is well worth the wait as the food is incredible. Again, it's lots of small dishes, and I recommend really making the most of that and picking things that are a little unusual. The salads and vegetables were amazing, I am still thinking about the delicious cauliflower we had. Their drinks menu was a little limited, but they did whip up a mean mimosa. 100% worth the visit, it's Gjelinas is one of my top recommendations from our whole trip!
Address: 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 9029
5. Gracias Madre (pictured below)
We went here twice while in LA, once for a drink and chips and dips, and again for a full evening meal. It's a vegetarian Mexican spot, which isn't something I would normally choose to go for. If you can then definitely opt to sit outside in the gorgeous courtyard, and order the Snow Cone cocktails because a) they're delicious, and b) it's really fun to smash that giant ice ball. They served up some of the best guacamole I have ever had, and in the evening the most incredible vegetarian tostades and flautas.
Address: 8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA
Another incredible evening meal for us! Again, sharing portions (there is a strong theme here), and while I am not a wine drinker, Lindsey assured me the wine was incredible. We managed to walk right in without a booking, but it was pretty busy so if you're more than a party of two I think booking would be your best bet. This, along with Gjelinas, was probably the best meal we had while we were there, and it was reasonably priced too.
Address: 8700 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Located in Downtown LA, I know this a popular hotel to stay in too. We didn't stay there, but we did explore the restaurant and the rooftop bar. It's super cool there, as in I have never seen so many hipsters in such a small space, and the rooftop is a treat to spend some time on in the sunshine. The cocktails were good but underwhelming, and the menu is very snack based. I wouldn't head back there for a meal, but for a little stop off on a busy day it's a great spot to refuel and soak up some rays. Plus the view from up there is incredible.
Address: 929 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015