The Lists

How to do LA like a Luxury Insider

Heading for Los Angeles? Whether you’re planning a luxurious week-long stay (or more), or just blowing through town on a business trip with a couple of free hours to spare, there’s always something fantastic to do in LA. In our ongoing series about LA luxury here at Dandelion Chandelier, we’ve been sharing our stories from our recent trip to the West Coast. Before we went, we asked our team of far-flung correspondents for their inside info on the best ways to have an authentic LA experience. It goes without saying that there are some iconic LA places that you need to see if you haven’t already: Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, and Disneyland. But once you’ve done those, here’s our curated list of 10 ways to do LA like a luxury insider:

–Visit Robinson Gardens. When philanthropist Virginia Robinson died in 1977 just before her 100th birthday, it was revealed that she had willed her six-and-a-half-acre estate in Beverly Hills to the County of Los Angeles. The lovely spot has since been fully restored with the help of local leaders and donors. While it’s a bit of an inside secret, it shouldn’t be. It’s magnificent. The third week of May is the annual Garden Tour – over 700 guests wear their best millinery, and leading fashion designers are paired with florists to decorate the home and its grounds. One year the theme was “The Art of Botanical Seduction.” We think that’s what this magical place is all about, all year long.

–Attend an important fall fundraiser. There are a handful of iconic fundraisers in October that are must-dos in LA. There’s the Carousel Ball of Hope, held in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton on a biennial basis (the event alternates between LA and Denver – the next one in LA is in October 2018). Barbara Davis chairs, and past performers have included Beyoncé, Elton John, and Whitney Houston.  The Hammer Museum Gala in the Garden celebrates “artists, innovators, and icons.” This year’s honorees were Ava DuVernay and Hilton Als; previous honorees include Frank Gehry, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, and Kara Walker.  A relative newcomer to the fall schedule that has proven to be hugely popular is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s “Art + Film” Gala. This year’s event honored Mark Bradford and George Lucas.

–See a classic sports rivalry. LA is blessed with multiple teams in some professional sports, and also with a plethora of talented college teams. Catching a game between two hometown teams will give you a glimpse of the real LA. You’ve got a couple of options. There’s the USC-UCLA football game  in America, there are many legendary college football rivalries. This one is LA’s. Every November the USC Trojans meet the UCLA Bruins – this year it’s on November 18th at LA Memorial Coliseum. Or if basketball is more your thing, hit a LA Lakers-LA Clippers NBA match-up – there are three more to go this season, on November 27, December 29, and April 11, 2018.

–Hit the Arts District. LA’s Downtown Arts District is rapidly becoming “the new Brooklyn” – the place for young, professional creative types to live, and for wealthier (and dare we say older) types to visit and hang out. Our LA insiders describe it as becoming “very chic” and recommend Boyle Heights, east of downtown and one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, as a place to get to know.

–See and be seen at the Tower Bar. According to chic friends who live in Beverly Hills, the Tower Bar is a must-visit – it’s not a tourist trap, and it lives up to the hype. Located in the heart of the Strip in West Hollywood atop the Sunset Tower Hotel, the bar is “an old Hollywood classic” (the building was completed in 1929), but young Hollywood still loves it. The outdoor patio has stunning views, and it’s a real scene, so dress to be scrutinized.  Some still swear by the pool at the Chateau Marmont as the best place for a drink or a round of celebrity-spotting on the Strip – we say try both. And judge for yourself.

–Take a drive out to Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway. And maybe stay there for a few days. There are several stylish new restaurants and hotels, and even the somewhat jaded locals are raving about them. This April, the 17-room Nobu Ryokan Malibu opened; it’s a minimalist, Japanese-style hideaway on Carbon Beach. Each room reportedly cost more than $1 million to outfit, with teak soaking tubs, Jerusalem limestone, shoji-screen walls, and cashmere robes.  At the same time, Nobu Malibu transitioned from its original location to a new beachfront property right next door. Views of the ocean are available from nearly every seat, and there’s also an outdoor patio.  SoHo House’s Little Beach House in Malibu has amazing food that’s served either in the dining room, the bar, the sitting room or the terrace.  Can it be purely coincidence that one of this year’s Neiman Marcus “fantasy” holiday gifts is a private helicopter tour and photography expedition in the skies over Malibu? We think not.

–Make a date for Friday lunch in Beverly Hills. What Sunday brunch is to New Yorkers, Friday lunch is to the denizens of Beverly Hills and the nearby vicinity. It’s a huge deal. There are a handful of spots where stylish people love to linger, people-watch and hold court, so take your pick. There’s the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel; Fred’s at Barneys; The Blvd at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (we highly recommend the smoked salmon pizza and a glass of champagne); or Lisa Vanderpump’s Villa Blanca.

–Lounge at The Rooftop bar at the Waldorf Astoria. This Beverly Hills watering hole is the new happening place to check out. It’s still finding its footing, since it’s only been open for a few months. But the view is spectacular, and the wrap-around terrace is unbeatable for soaking in that LA-fab vibe that you came here for.

–Visit a museum – or three or four. LA is blessed with some incredible contemporary art museums, and it’s a joy to wander through any one of the following: The Broad (home of Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of 2,000 post-war works); the LACMA (you’ll recognize Chris Burden’s iconic entrance installation Urban Light, a piece made up of 202 cast-iron street lamps gathered from around LA – it’s been on Instagram about 100 million gazillion times); the magnificent hilltop Getty Museum with its lovely gardens; and the Hammer Museum (now a part of UCLA, and known for its photography and design exhibitions). If you or your companions love cars, the Petersen Automotive Museum is a must. This fall there’s a blockbuster exhibition going on at over 70 museums in Southern California called “Pacific Standard Time:LA/LA Latin American & Latino Art in LA.” The focus is on the influences that artists from Latin America have had on LA, and vice versa. It’s a stunning group of shows, and catching even 3 or 4 of them is a must if you visit before the end of the year. #PSTLALA

–Make a pilgrimage to Maxfield. Our friend in Beverly Hills says that if you only make one shopping run (in addition to Rodeo Drive, of course) make it Maxfield on Melrose Avenue. As she aptly describes it, “it’s like a museum of clothes – except that you can buy them!” It’s an amazing store, and definitely worth a visit. There’s a location in Malibu, too – are you seeing a pattern here?

There you have it. Ten great ways to play in La La Land. Have fun. And if you spontaneously break into song from time to time, we will totally understand. It happens.

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