Los Angeles, where the weather is perfect almost all year round.
Whether you’re out to impress clients or have a day to kill before a flight out, LA is your oyster.
The culture, the food, the sunshine, the views…there’s simply too much to do for a single visit, which brings to mind one tip to remember when you have a few hours in the city: Plan for traffic. Don’t anticipate you’ll lunch in Hollywood, have a meeting in Santa Monica and then be able to enjoy dinner downtown with much ease. But if you organize geographically, you’ll fall for LA.
The Westside – Santa Monica, Venice, and West LA
Go west, where art and sparkling ocean views meet at the Roman-inspired, hilltop Getty Villa, home to an enormous collection of artworks, Greek and Roman antiquities, and beautiful gardens. Or visit its sister building, the beautiful sprawling Getty Center, which draws you back time with its permanent exhibitions and immaculate setting.
If art isn’t your scene, head over to the Venice Beach Boardwalk, which attracts locals and tourists equally. Rent a bike or walk its winding path until you reach sustenance at The Waterfront.
This is the area where you can dine outside almost all year round, with a gorgeous view. Book ahead at Felix for award-winning Italian on Venice’s cool Abbot Kinney Blvd. Or for a local touch, try Rustic Canyon, which serves the best of California cuisine in Santa Monica. Both venues suit a business dinner or a leisurely meal on your own.
For a taste of how locals like to spend a day, stop for a bite, an ice cream, or a bit of shopping at the Brentwood Country Mart.
Where to stay? The design-forward Viceroy Santa Monica is known to cater to business travelers and has a gorgeous pool for a bit of downtime. The Fairmont Miramar ticks a lot of boxes, too: room service with an ocean breeze without sacrificing business travel comforts.
West Hollywood & Hollywood – high energy, big city vibe
You’ll easily recognize the museum LACMA, in West Hollywood, thanks to the Urban Light installation out front. More than 140,000 pieces are on display in a setting that has brought big-name traveling and temporary shows to LA since its inception.
For film and history buffs, why not see a movie beneath the stars during the summer months at nearby Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where Judy Garland and Rudolph Valentino are buried. An outdoor concert at the Hollywood Bowl is, likewise, unforgettable.
While LA is a city where yoga studios outnumber the Starbucks, few workouts are as well-known and well-loved as a hike, with sweeping views, at Runyon Canyon.
To start your day, walk through the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel and down a small set of stairs to the Fountain Coffee Room, where you’ll find a seat at the counter and a diner-inspired menu featuring their famous silver dollar pancakes.
Reserve a table at Republique, Osteria Mozza, or Sushi Zo, if you’re looking to impress yourself or your stakeholders.
Rest your head at the contemporary The London West Hollywood and shift from meeting clients in the lobby bar to taking a dip in the rooftop pool.
Then, there’s the four-star Sofitel on the border of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood or the Dream Hollywood which has everything you need and then some, plus a great location near the Hollywood Bowl.
Downtown LA – LA’s business heart that’s made a major comeback
Downtown has been reinvigorated over the last two decades with impressive museums, galleries, performing arts centers, and some of the city’s most exciting food offerings.
Start at the Broad Museum and make an evening of it at its excellent restaurant, Otium. If you’re after some great music, The Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall is the winter home to the world-class Los Angeles Philharmonic.
By day—ideally midweek to avoid the crowds—walk through Grand Central Market, which makes for a delicious and multi-sensory experience.
There’s no lack of great food and drink options in Downtown LA. You can’t beat Bestia, Rossoblu, or The Restaurant at NoMad Los Angeles, where tables may be tough to get but are well worth the effort. The hotel’s lobby is also a top pick for those looking to work while visiting the city.
For something less swanky, pop into the legendary Cole’s French Dip. Whether their wildly good French dip sandwich is the “original” or not is still up for debate, but they’ve been making it since 1908 (and have been luring locals to a “secret” bar in the back, The Varnish, since 2009).
Book a room at the ultra-modern JW Marriott Downtown, near the Staples Center. It has the added benefit of being a Starwood Preferred hotel if accruing hotel rewards points is at the top of your list.
The East Side – a handful of fun and funky neighborhoods
Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Highland Park are known for being LA’s hipster havens with a concentration of third wave coffee shops, independent bookstores, and one of the city’s best flea markets. If sports is more your thing, an afternoon of baseball, and a beloved Dodger Dog, at Dodgers Stadium is always good fun.
By night, book a lane at LA’s oldest bowling alley, Highland Park Bowl, which first opened during Prohibition and underwent an extensive renovation in 2016, preserving many of its original features. Relaxation on the cards? Call ahead for a massage at The Now, an airy and late-night spa where you can add CBD oil or healing crystals to your treatment.
Visit France and Italy, by way of the east side, with dinner at Cafe Stella or Alimento respectively. Considered two of the area’s best restaurants, Cafe Stella mixes an intimate bistro vibe with standout French cuisine while Alimento is run by an LA-local serving incredible pastas and appetizers on an ever-changing menu.
Take time out to drink (and talk about) some very good wine at Bar Covell or make new friends while ordering tacos and cocktails at the cool Salazar.
Hotels are scarce on this side of town, so it’s wise to stick with a hotel Downtown. If the JW Marriott doesn’t suit, perhaps the historic Ace Hotel or the chic NoMad Hotel offer the right vibe.