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48 hours in Los Angeles: what to see, where to go and eating out

Having cemented its standing as a wellness hot spot, Los Angeles has more recently rejuvenated and regenerated its Downtown area, with an emphasis on its fashion and design industries

Joshua Tree National Park is popular with rock-climbers and nature enthusiasts Getty
Joshua Tree National Park is popular with rock-climbers and nature enthusiasts Getty

Beyond the dreams that the City of Angels holds for budding actors heading in en masse for pilot season, Los Angeles has long been a centre for those seeking a hefty dose of sunshine on the west coast of the US. As far back as the early 1800s, Southern California, touted by real estate developers getting rich on hectares of cheap land as a sanctuary for tuberculosis sufferers, became the Mediterranean of the United States. Those who could, fled in their thousands to La La Land in search of a restorative holiday.

Having cemented its standing as a wellness hot spot, Los Angeles has more recently rejuvenated and regenerated its Downtown area, with an emphasis on its fashion and design industries. Look now to Downtown for cool concept stores, eateries and boutique hotels popping up in what was a tired theatre district. Hip and happening Silver Lake has also recently emerged as an up-and-coming neighbourhood populated by young screen writers and actors living in hilltop bungalows. This spot, tightly hugging a lake, has swiftly filled up with must-visit restaurants, trendy bars and coffee shops filled with freelancers furiously jabbing at their Mac laptops between sips of matcha latte.

Then, of course, there’s always Hollywood, Rodeo Drive and Venice Beach to satisfy the shameless tourist in us all.

Shop

Still fairly new to the city, Row in LA’s recently developed Arts District is an outdoor shopping mall that has fast become the place to see and be seen at the weekend. An industrial space, stretching over 13 hectares, has been transformed into an expansive complex of luxury boutiques and independent concept stores sprawling across six buildings. From picking up a locally grown snack from the Farmers Market (a trend that is now almost synonymous with LA) to indulging in luxury, organic skincare from the likes of Cult of Treehouse at the LCD concept store or treating yourself to a pair of killer heels from LA footwear designer Charlotte Stone, Row is the place to fully give in to your urge to splurge.

Downtown LA is home to concept stores and boutique hotels. Getty 
Downtown LA is home to concept stores and boutique hotels. Getty 

Elsewhere in town, bibliophiles will love The Last Bookstore. A treasure trove of literary gems, the two-storey historic building is crammed floor to ceiling, aisle after aisle, with second-hand books (including some extremely limited-edition classics) and records. If shopping is not your thing, but you love to dip into a good book, this is the place to head to.

Eat

When it’s time to slink off for lunch after an intense session of retail therapy, head to a rooftop to best take in the city. In bustling Koreatown, The Line hotel’s Openaire is a green retreat that sits loftily above the traffic-jammed streets below. A lush poolside restaurant bursting with hanging plants, Openaire offers American classics, such as the BLT and hearty flat iron steaks, done in a refined and elegant way.

If you happen to be a pizza aficionado and in the Venice neighbourhood around lunch time, look up Gjelina. Beyonce is often spotted in this ­industrial-feeling spot, just a 10-minute stroll from the beach, tucking into thin-crust pizza topped with fresh, seasonal Californian produce. Try the pomodoro pizza with Californian-grown confit tomatoes, basil, burrata and lashings of olive oil.

Dinner reservations should be made at Dama in the Fashion District, if you want to try what locals are currently obsessed with. Tacos are the flavour of the moment, and this ­Mexican-Spanish ­fusion tapas joint is where you’ll find the tastiest tacos in the city. If your palate can handle it, order crunchy seafood tostadas that are spicy, drizzled with lime and topped with generous sprinklings of coriander.

Explore

Work off all the extra LA calories by hitting Runyon Canyon Park for a hike that takes in the Hollywood Hills and offers views across the vast expanse of this sprawling, palm-lined city. The park and its hilly terrain are the ideal spot to snap a selfie in front of the famous Hollywood sign. It’s here that hyper in-shape locals head to for an intense workout, so don your best leggings and prepare to work up a sweat.

If you’re looking to see more than just the city while you’re in LA, take a day to escape the traffic and whizz a hire car out to Palm Springs and beyond, to Joshua Tree National Park, for a cinematic desert landscape of enormous boulders, cacti and characteristic spiked Joshua trees. On your way back into the city, stop off at the Del Marcos Hotel for a step back in time – a vintage foray into Palm Springs’ golden era of the 1950s and 1960s. Mid-century furniture reigns supreme here, as does the feeling of being stuck in a motel time warp.

Stay

In the swiftly regenerating theatre land of Los Angeles, surrounded by impressive Art Deco architecture, the new Hoxton hotel is in a prime position for shopping and gallery-hopping in the Arts District. When you’re not out discovering the city, take advantage of the newly opened rooftop pool and bar with views across the city.

For the most impressive views from your own hotel room, opt for The Line Hotel in Koreatown. Brutalist interiors and poured concrete walls lend the place its appeal to a hip crowd, but it’s the floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall views over LA and on to the Hollywood Hills and that ever-present Hollywood sign that really make this hotel a standout.

Updated: January 14, 2020 07:27 PM

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