- Louche, luxe and legendary
- High on Sunset
- Groovy retro spy HQ
- High-rise downtown playground
- All things bright and beautiful
- Parkside Ocean Avenue
- Big Apple in LA
- Upmarket design district
- Bohemia, with butterflies
- Heart of West Hollywood
- Little bit of Britain
- Hidden in West Hollywood
- Serenely hip hangout
- Sassy Sunset Strip
Los Angeles Overview
- Hills of tinseltown
- City life
- California dreaming
LA – a city of silver-screen dreams, where movie moguls, stars and starlets party in the California sunshine.
The reality of this sprawling metropolis is certainly more complex than its celluloid image, but it’s no less mesmerising without the special effects. The sheer scale of the city can be overwhelming, but explore the fabled neighbourhoods of Hollywood, Bel-Air and Malibu, and you’ll find those flashes of movie magic unique to LA. Each part of the city has its own distinct character; a cross-city drive feels like a series of rapid set changes. How the plot unfolds is up to you – a day spent surfing on Venice Beach, shopping in Santa Monica and rubbing shoulders with the stars in Beverly Hills actually is real life for the lucky few. Los Angeles is a place where you can write your own storyline.
Literally Los Angeles
Hollywood wannabes aside, beach life – as defined by Beach Boys songs and Baywatch babes – epitomises sunny SoCal. As well as Venice and Santa Monica beaches, Malibu stretches along the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway. The acting elite may jealously guard ‘their’ sandy patch of celeb suburbia, but Zuma and Malibu beach are perfect for surfing, volleyball, picnics and sunbathing; find surf schools and hire shops at www.surfline.com.
- LA’s sprawl means taxi rides can be expensive. You’re unlikely to find a taxi rank, so book with one of the large cab companies, such as the Yellow Cab Company (+1 877 733 3305; www.layellowcab.com) or United Taxi (+1 800 822 8294; www.unitedtaxi.com).
- Tipping culture
- Tipping is always expected in restaurants: 20 per cent is not unusual – it’s easy to calculate by doubling the amount of tax on your bill. It’s also the norm to tip a dollar for every drink at the bar. Don’t forget to leave something out for your housekeeper to ensure your toiletries get stocked up to the max each day.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Los Angeles is a hard-working town that has a hard-nosed, serious edge to its laid-back front. Lunch and brunch are a big deal in this city. Most shops are open till 7pm, although malls normally stay open later. Restaurants are normally busy between 6pm and 9pm.
- Packing tips
- That film script you’ve been working on (preferably stuffed into a serious It bag).
- Recommended reads
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler; Black Dahlia or LA Confidential by James Ellroy; The Comedy Writer by Peter Farrelly. My Lucky Star by Jo Keenan is a farcical, fun-poking, fictional look at Hollywood.
- You can get anything and everything in LA, from dim sum in Chinatown to Mexican enchiladas, but in SoCal, it’s all about low-cal. This star-stuck city is dedicated to food fads and major-league schmoozing, so don’t be surprised if your fellow diners at Ivy are sticking to a strict raw-food, low-carb ‘reverse French’ regime that excludes red meat, caffeine and fun. Californian wines from the nearby Napa and Sonoma Valleys are justly popular, and low on air miles. LA is not exactly the greenest of towns, but there are plenty of farmers’ markets, particularly in Santa Monica (www.farmernet.com); and Grace restaurant at Beverly Boulevard (+1 323 934 4400) offers a ‘Close to Home’ tasting menu featuring ingredients sourced from within a 400-mile radius.
- US dollar ($).
- Time zone
- GMT -8 hours.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for the United States: 1. There are several area codes in the city and calling outside of these can be expensive. Downtown: 213/323; Malibu, Venice, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills: 310; Hollywood, East LA and South Central: 323.
- Do go/don't go
- Spring and autumn sees LA is at its best. Days are often warm and sunny but summer can see a rise in smog levels and sea mist (known as ‘June gloom’).
Don't go home without...
… having a cocktail at one of LA’s see-and-be-seen hangouts. The Standard Downtown's Rooftop Bar is super-cool, dizzyingly hip and boasts stimulating 360º cityscape views; and Skybar at the Mondrian on Sunset is still a big in-crowd-pleaser.