We love hotels. We love room service. We love poolside cocktails. There is nothing more decadent than a trip to a hotel, the epicenter of our social circles and respite from our daily life. They are destinations in themselves, with the acumen of the location converged in the design and the sensibilities of its inhabitants. Hotels are daydreams made real, with amenities at your fingertips and a dip in the water just steps away. More than temporary homes, today's hotels aspire to be just like home - whatever home it is that you are looking for.
9/19/11: hollywood, speakeasy swank, campaign champagne
We love the Hemingway known to Gerald and Sara Murphy – brooding, ambitious, and calculatingly absorbed in a sort of post-war carelessness. It's this Hemingway, untainted, that's arrived in a storefront lounge on Hollywood Blvd. dimly lit (to discourage reading, no doubt) and crushed wall-to-wall in books. The drink menu is as spare as Hemingway's prose, and our Death In the Afternoon cocktail featured absinthe, sour mix, blackberry juice, and a float of champagne. As undrinkable as the Old Man and the Sea, we gamely downed the glass in three gulps over fast conversation with a party of Munich natives. Our curiosity sated, we cut out before the weekend crowd, borrowing a move from the pages of Hemingway himself.
New hotel restaurants are high on our radar so with the renovation and re-opening of Public came the subsequent craving for menu novelty. We grabbed our good friend L, brushed past the bikini sun worshippers at Bar Tropicana, and laid into their $35 multi-course brunch offering. We ran through her visit to the W Barcelona over bottomless mimosas (a HotelCrush occasional indulgence) which came straight from the juicer in perfect champagne/orange proportion.
The space is arranged like a French bistro stirred into an English countryside dining room, with twisted horns displayed next to staid portraits and chalkboard cheese specials. Gone is the dark formality of the Dakota dining room, with its speakeasy booths and club seating. Cafe chairs and pub tables congregate under the aged ceiling mural of serpent unicorns swimming around the Roosevelt Hotel logo, and the effect is bright, breezy, and cozy as afternoon tea.
The brunch menu is organized as a pre-fixe inviting diners to select one starter, one main, one side, and a dessert. Starters range from our choice of the crabcake, to asparagus salad, hummus, or burrata on pain vert. We selected diver scallops as our main, though we could have chosen skirt steak, lemon ricotta pancakes, or one of the eggs benedict options (duck confit hash qualifying as the most haute). Our side of mixed berries was delicious – ripe, sweet, and as perfect-looking as a cereal ad. We loved the warm cinnamon and nutmeg coated Berliners for dessert, and resolved to hit the W Barcelona, rooftop pool or (gasp!) no rooftop pool.
9/12/11: speakeasy swank, hollywood, yummy
By Hollywood standards it was a slow drip. A Tuesday or Thursday at the height of summer, a night here or there for the rest of July and August. But with our devotion to Sayers Club deep in full pitch, we're verging on a level of attendance seen only in educational settings or the workplace. It's rare that a nightclub is this good, and like the thrill of your first concert or trip backstage, we're happy to report that it's downright exhilarating.
Ambience: A black box theater with tufted leather couches, 1920s light fixtures, a gripping sound system, and rigorous sense of lighting nuance. We've compared Sayers to a scaled version of the Edison during its moment (Lucent Dossier, 1920s film projected on the walls). Drinks are classic speakeasy, like our favorite, the French 75 (pictured left). A mixed drink made with gin and tart with lemon juice, the slightly sweet concoction is finished with champagne and a strawberry.
DJ: We're known for DJing three or four genres a night, moving in and out of each at full blast. The same mentality goes here, where the DJ will spin the Ronettes, the Presets, and Biggie in the same half hour. Seamless, and perfectly on point. The late '90s/early '00s concept of Eighties night or hip-hop night is completely irrelevant here, and the single-genre boredom is absent as well.
Live Music: The reason everyone is here. Thursday night Sessions and Tuesday night funk are infamously good, with knock-out cover performances that have the entire crowd on their feet, breathless and stunning guest performances (like Prince last Tuesday) that leave everyone feeling smarter, taller, better-looking, and on a bender of good fortune.
Crowd: 100% music. The best parties revolve around a superordinate purpose beyond straight pick-up dynamics. It might be a great DJ or a weekly residency, but everybody is united by something more ephemeral than their next drink.
The hotel cocktail can be overpriced, rushed, and cranked out with the same care as a beer on tap. But it can also be deliciously reviving, the perfect complement to a sunny afternoon or evening outdoors. Here are our favorites to move you gently through the last few weeks of scorchingly pleasant weather.
The Parker Palm Springs - Fresh Squeezed Lemonade: We love the cold, tart taste of fresh squeezed lemonade and the Lemonade Stand at the Parker is devoted solely to this. With poolside ordering and shady lounge chairs, this is our favorite setting for an hour drowned in our Kindle and some Balzac.
W Hollywood - Berry Caipirinha: A good caipirinha is neither too sweet nor too sour, and the W Hollywood has struck the perfect balance of both. We love the addition of muddled strawberries which nearly turns the drink from a cocktail to a Jamba Juice.
W D.C. - Mixed Berry Mojito: Nothing seems more decadent than sipping a mint and berry cocktail on a weekday afternoon against the backdrop of snipers patrolling the rooftop of the White House. We love this refreshing cocktail for all the reasons we love mojitos (mint, lime) and berries (sweet, slightly acidic).
Summer days are hot, smothering, and oppressively wonderful, and we're devastated when they're gone. (Not entirely gone, as temperate weather in Southern California ensures, but not 80, with fresh lemonade, night swims, and pool parties..) With a month and a half of deluxe summering to squeeze, we're working poolside and reporting vigorously, determined to gulp every last drop. Today's mission: a sunny lounge chair at the W Hollywood rooftop, and a plate of our favorite ceviche tacos.
We loaded our Kindle, packed our notebook, and headed to the 12th floor rooftop pool. Swatting past tables of posturing and big moves that come standard in this town, we enlisted the hostess in our quest for a sunny lounge chair. (The one on the end near the bar? Perfect.) Our afternoon passed in a blitz of heat and plunge into a new book, and we emerged as satiated and tranquilized as a Day 3 vacationer.
Our advice? The vacation you need just might be in you own city. And it's nearly effortless to take it.
The W Hollywood rooftop pool is open daily from 11am-6pm (though we don't recommend weekends).
7/15/11: hollywood, speakeasy swank
We remember sleepy weekday evenings in the Cahuenga corridor when you could still find street parking and grab a martini for less than $10. Those days are as over as Spider Club, but what's lost has been gained in swinging pendant lights and the refreshingly good sound system of the new spot called Sayers. References to the Edison and PDT are liberal, and It's rare to find DJing or cocktailing this solid in Hollywood (anymore). We love the blitz on our tongue of the French75, a champagne flute drizzled with lemon juice and perfectly in beat with our Tuesday night.
7/04/11: hollywood, bliss, spaaah
Happy 4th of July! Oh my. The brownies, the champagne, the smell of blood orange + white pepper. . . and a luxuriously satiating Elemis Tri-Enzyme Facial from our favorite Hollywood spa. This 60-minute resurfacing treatment brutalizes dead skin cells and restores hydration. The two peels were so swift and results-oriented that we could see a difference right after and overall improvement in skin clarity for nearly two weeks. A side benefit of this facial? The wonderful aromas of Elemis's famed skincare line, with enough ginger and mint to revive the laziest of holiday afternoons.
5/25/11: hollywood, spaaah
A visit to a new spa is like a new crush - the rush, the anticipation, the comparison to ones prior. Our curiosity was piqued on many drives down Sunset Blvd. as we watched Le Posh Salon grow out of an unwieldy streetcorner on a frantic rush hour corridor. We hesitated on the bright neon sign outside, but we're not one to judge on externals alone. The interior is stunning - bright, spacious, full of light, and frosted with the kind of orange you want to paint on your fingernails and wear as dangly earrings.
We were greeted with a glass of Veuve (just our style!) and called leisurely to our appointment with Tisha, the massage coordinator. Music in spas is a topic we'll cover later, but we were wholly impressed by the ambient music selection during our 60 minutes. Blissful, soothing, but neither too organic or too sycophantic-female-singer. The deep pressure and tension-relieving strokes of Swedish massage had us nearly asleep and our hour felt luxuriously longer.
We followed our massage with another glass of Veuve and a pedicure with Malvina in the brightest pink we could scavenge. Good pedicures in Los Angeles are a dime a dozen, but a truly outstanding one is as rare as Laurent Perrier by the glass. Our feet looked and felt amazing after ("are those still ours?") and the perfect polish lasted for weeks.
4/25/11: hollywood, speakeasy
We were sated by the third floor walk up, reminiscent of our college library that seemed to tower for monologues. It’s here that Cleo has found the proper reverse to dish cracking, or where SBE has found a quiet corner to install a library of romances, treaties, or tell-all memoirs – the white paper book jackets won’t let on. The couches are pulled from your favorite formal dining room and the outdoor patio is the right amount of air between a dusty volume of Balzac and a heated conversation in English-clipped French.
Library Bar Living Room and Dining Room:
Library Bar Patio: