It’s been a dream of mine for years to see the NEW Venice beach. I decided to make it happen. My own mini Eat, Pray, Love…or as I like to call it…Eat, Pray, Swim. I travelled alone for two days in Venice, and then as fate would have it, a girl friend was able to meet up with me for a weekend in West Hollywood.
Here are my Venice beach highlights and recommendations!
Why Venice Beach is Hot!
Venice beach has always been known for the most interesting people watching in LA, but just 20 years ago it wasn’t safe to walk around after dark. That’s all changed. It’s been invaded by Foodies, Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Companies like Google, Snap Chat, and Buzzfeed all have offices in the area. Now it’s known as Silicon Beach!
Real Estate is hot, rare, and lucrative. In 2002 Julia Roberts bought two homes side by side and built a double-lot property with a pool that she later sold to actor Tim Robbins. I spoke to one Venice beach native whose wife’s grandfather built a humble home for $5,000. The family just sold it for $1.7 million dollars.
Venice beach is in a constant state of flux. You are just as likely to see what appears to be a homeless person masterfully playing the piano on the beach, as you are to spot a Chanel bag. In Venice beach, everything goes, and that’s the appeal.
The Rose Hotel
Ever since I heard about the Rose Hotel, I have been dying to stay here. It looks like a Nantucket clapboard beach house on the outside and caters to hipsters, execs and surfers alike. What everyone has in common, regardless of their profession, is the desire to chill out by the beach.
I fell in love with the simple rustic interior. Black and white photographs of surfers hang above gorgeous antique furniture all purchased at the Rose Bowl Flea. It doesn’t hurt that the hotel is across the street from the ocean!! The California sun beats down on the reception area and it is the most uplifting sight for any traveller who has just spent a winter in hibernation.
I felt my shoulders relax as soon as I stepped into my room. It was simple and perfect. The windows let in fresh sea air and provided a view of pastel colored bicycles, fuchsia bougainvillea and palm trees. The scent of Aesop oil misted into the air smelled like paradise.
The sheets were so soft that every morning I had to force myself out of bed. I felt like a newborn. If it wasn’t for the complementary Stumptown coffee and warm croissants they serve to guests, I’d probably still be in bed.
I cannot emphasize enough how generous and savvy the staff was. I had a blast at this hotel, and it physically hurt my heart to leave.
* Be warned * The Rose Hotel will be undergoing some construction and upgrades soon, so please book fast.
After breakfast one day, I walked the few steps to the beach. Removing my flip flops and putting them in my bag felt like freedom. I closed my eyes when I felt the heat of the sand covering my toes. Seaweed shaped like mermaid’s tails were scattered everywhere. Tiny open seashells decorated the sand like jewelry. Little birds ran quickly back and forth from the frothy white waves. Adults burst into smiles as they stepped into the water and children ran past me yelling like partying fairies. I walked from my hotel to the skater park. There is a walking path and a bike path, but I chose to walk with my feet in the water.
Hungry for lunch, I tried Great White. It is as delicious as I’d heard. Located past the 5$ sunglasses and incense for sale, in between a Subway and an expensive surf shop; harvest bowls, chill music and a simple white beachy décor await.
You can tell it’s popular by the cool crowd lounging next to their dogs enjoying the…
Good Vibes Only
I have never been to a place where you feel such joyful good vibes like you do in Venice beach. Like my adorable friend said: “What is this place? It’s like Sesame street for adults!”. It’s true.
Everybody smiles at you. I almost fell over when a bus driver stopped the bus so I could cross the street. Can you imagine that happening anywhere else?
Walking back to the hotel I got lost and discovered an alleyway covered in the most beautiful flowers in orange, pale pink and fuchsia. I was mesmerized. People just stood there casually chatting with their neighbours. “Do they know how lucky they are?” I wondered.
I was told I had to eat at Rose Café on Rose Avenue.
I had the tuna burger with a side of homemade pickles. Um. Wow. No wonder celebrities like Owen Wilson are often spotted here.
After lunch I took a stroll. There are so many houses lining the street that you aren’t sure you’ll find anything else apart from the enviable real estate.
I knew I was arriving in Xanadu when I noticed a building painted with a mystical rainbow meets a woman’s face meets kaleidoscope mural that read We Are All One.
A few steps after that I noticed dream catchers blowing the wind above a table covered in crystals. Obviously, I went in. I was greeted by the friendliest staff who assured me that I had to try a sound bath meditation. There was a class in an hour so I signed up.
I went to Moon Juice while I waited. I had no idea what that was, but I knew I had to try it! Life changing.
Across the street was an intriguing boutique called Parachute.
Wow. Beddings and towels in the softest organic cottons made by artisans all over the world.
I wanted to nap on the couch.
Time for some meditation! I walked past the buddha waterfall and giant sandbox where they host events and hang out. I removed my flip flops and went into the cabin. I grabbed two cushions, a pillow and a blanket and set myself up in sleeping position. I get to lie down? This is my kind of class.
After some soul-cleansing meditation, I decided I needed a hearty meal so I went back to Rose Café for their famed carbonara pasta and a glass of red wine. What I love about this place is that I got seated at a long table with strangers so I got to mingle. The pasta, wine and company were fabulous!
How Venice Beach Changed Me
I woke up the next morning and had a thought that I NEVER have. “What if I skip the coffee and croissant and go right to a yoga class and then grab a smoothie at Café Gratitude”. If you knew me, you would know that this is strange. I tend to be lazy in the morning, but that’s exactly what I did! I quickly changed and booked a 10:45 am yoga class at The Yoga Collective.
I loved that I was making such a healthy choice. The sun and all the good vibes seemed to have altered me.
I was late for my late checkout (sorry!) so I showered fast and went to reception for coffee and a croissant while I waited for my friend to arrive. The hotel agreed to store our bags for the day. We ubered over to Gjusta. which everyone had told me was incredible. Best. Lunch. Ever. Fresh snap peas, farm fresh eggs and home baked bread.
Hoorah! (The owners of Gjusta also own Gjelina which is apparently impossible to get into, so arrive at 5 pm and eat at the bar. EVERYONE told me it is the place to eat in LA.)
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Off to Abbot Kinney for some shopping! The sun was glorious. As we walked down Abbot Kinney, I heard a typewriter!? I looked up to see a pretty turquoise colored restaurant and on the balcony was a handsome guy typing on a vintage typewriter.
How unusual. I stopped to ask him what he was doing. It turns out he writes poems. My friend and I both asked him to write us one on a theme of our choice. It cost whatever we wanted to pay. So fun and different!
We went inside and were blown away be the décor. We couldn’t stop taking photos of the gorgeous art and velvet furniture.
We decided to eat there later after we spent the afternoon perusing the hip boutiques. We loved window shopping on the street but we were in The Piece Collective for most of the afternoon.
Once we were hungry again we headed back to Neighbour and got a table outside. Hello Aperol Spritz! It was happening and beautiful outside on the gorgeous terrace. (I love that the bathrooms are non-gender.)
BONUS: Be sure to follow Abbot Kinney Boulevard's Instagram for updates and inspiration. Here is a gallery to give you a taste of the gorgeous photography!