We’ve all seen that moment in The Holiday when Kate Winslet drives by the beach, looks up at the palm trees and smiles. Then she discovers where she’ll be living while she’s in LA? Any beach vacation can provide a similar moment, but LA has its own special appeal. After a few days in Venice beach alone, I met up with a friend and we headed to Sunset Boulevard for the weekend.
Here are my highlights and recommendations!
The next morning it was pool time! We had a simple breakfast and then were able to get a couch to ourselves.
*Warning* Get to the pool well before 10 am to snag a good spot. I can’t rave about the breakfast, but the view is awesome, and the coffee isn’t bad.
The real gem of the Mondrian is the pool. You pay an additional 20$ ‘facilities’ charge but that includes a 10$ drink a day, with a ‘use it or lose it’ policy. We enjoyed a 15$ delicious mimosa. Life never felt so good!
The pool is heaven. The music is great. The people watching is fascinating. Skybar pool parties apparently get pretty crazy. Have fun!
Fun Fact: Meghan Markle attended an event at The Mondrian before she met Harry…
We decided to head over to sunny and colorful Santa Monica so see the beach and shop for the afternoon. It was time for lunch and even though the famously beautiful Ivy By The Shore had space, we were more attracted to the fun party feeling nearby at Blue Plate Taco. If we had a car, we would have gone to my favorite beach in LA, the super glamourous Malibu. Next time!
There was a line up and pretty decorations hanging on the terrace. Plus, I was craving tacos. I asked two cute and stylish girls in front of us if it was good, and they answered “I LOVE this place!!” Done. We were quickly seated, and I ordered a margarita with fish tacos. YUM. And Yum. If you want a fun, casual, yummy and quick lunch overlooking the ocean; this is the place.
Prepare to Spend $$$ on Ubers
On our way to our hotel the day before, we saw some shops that looked interesting so we Ubered over ($$) only to realize that it was further than we thought. We happened upon a vintage shop that was amazing!
I think we spent over two hours at Clothing & Trade Co and after some quick crystal shopping at The House of Intuition, we decided to head back to the hotel (mo $$) to change and figure out our dinner plans.
*Warning* Be sure you make reservations well in advance for your Saturday night meal.
We went to Bungalow to have a pre-dinner cocktail but it was insanely packed so we left. Apparently, weeknights are better. That being said, the sunset over the Santa Monica pier was incredible.
I wanted to try the sushi at Sugar Fish (Beyoncé’s back-up dancer Kim Gingras recommended it), but we would have had to wait 45 minutes.
I was really in the mood for some spicy Thai food. We went back to our hotel hoping they could help us. I have to give a huge shout out to the concierge service at the Mondrian. They know their stuff. As it turns out, down the street is some of the best Thai food in the city and the concierge was able to get us in!
Night + Market
By happy accident, we got into Night + Market. Inside it’s fuchsia pink with neon lights, crazy art, and upside down squeezed paint tubes inside a plexiglass case.
The vibe is happening. It’s small, colorful and I knew we’d eat well. Hello chicken brochettes with peanut butter sauce, delicious soup and jasmine rice! The highlight of this restaurant was the service. Our waitress was genuinely sweet and very cool.
Apparently, Chrissy Tiegan, Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomeii adore this place, but you didn’t hear it from me.
This restaurant used to be frequented by Mick Jagger when the current chef’s grandmother ran the kitchen of Talesai. It’s been revamped to become Night + Market.
A Farmhouse on Sunset Boulevard?
The next day was our last. Sniff sniff. We had breakfast at our hotel and then snagged two lounge chairs. We were pros at this point. We ordered our mimosas and enjoyed the sun for a few hours. It felt amazing!
Hungry, we asked our trusted concierge for lunch recommendations. He said that Eveleigh is great. Turns out it is known to house one of the prettiest views in LA.
It’s a little farmhouse that looks out of place on the more modern end of Sunset boulevard. It’s known for its farm to table fresh food. Try the lemon ricotta pancakes. Heavenly. The view from the terrace out back is definitely amazing. This experience was a highlight!
Melrose Flea and a Very Long Walk
Time for the Melrose Flea Market, the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon! We Ubered over, paid our 3$ entrance fees and got started. I was glad to see that it’s substantial and lives up to the hype. I fell in love with the work by the artist Fairchild Paris. Handmade vintage fashion prints are my kind of thing. I narrowed it down to one and I did the old walk away. After a few minutes I went back. He gave me a deal and didn’t charge me any tax.
Then, I wanted to check out Wasteland which I’ve heard is amazing for vintage shopping so we walked over.
*Warning* Bring band aids for your feet is all I’m saying. Or rent a car.
Our Last Night in LA
Back at the hotel we got ready in 10 minutes and headed over to EP + LP for a drink. We heard from several sources that the rooftop view of the Hollywood Hills is unparalleled so obviously we had to check it out. Matt Damon celebrated his birthday there a few years ago.
Now came the fodder for one of the biggest laughing fits I’ve ever shared with a friend. We got carded and didn’t have ID to prove we were over 30. I forgot how American bars have to protect their liquor licenses ferociously, but this was hilarious. My friend and I were on such a high after this. (Let’s just say we are not in our 20’s.) We were loving it!
The view was fabulous and I loved the vibe. You know those great summer nights where you forget about time and just enjoy the moment? It was like that. Carefree, high from the view, and fascinated by the scene; we were thrilled we skipped more extensive primping and just threw our hair up and squeezed in this experience.
FYI – here are the top bars on Sunset Strip.
Next stop, and our last (sniff, sniff) was Catch. Known for the celebrity clientele and great atmosphere, we knew this would be a great way to end our LA trip. Once you climb the three flights of nondescript cement stairs (“Where are we even going?” goes through your mind) you arrive upon the restaurant. First you hear the sound of lots of people wining, dining and laughing; and then you see the greenery hanging from the ceiling and the beautiful people walk by. We didn’t see any celebs, but we had a blast. The food at Catch is good, but it’s not what you go for. But hey, if it’s good enough for Madonna, it’s good enough for me. The place was packed on a Sunday night and the tables kept changing with lots of sexy people coming and going.
I was on a high and I still am, even days after being back at home. I hope you treat yourself to an adventure. After all, “It’s Hollywood! What’s your dream?”
P.S. Other West Hollywood restaurants that get excellent word of mouth are Jon and Vinny's (great pizza - cool vibe!), Animal Restaurant, Pink Taco and Cecconis. For your hotel, if the Mondrian doesn't work for you, try the W Hotel. Be sure to use hotels.com for good deals! I recommend checking recent reviews to ensure your hotel is not under construction.