Surrounded with hip boutiques, independent galleries and trendy taquerias, Alsace is one of West Adams Boulevard’s smartest addresses, a sparkling diamond in the rough just 15 minutes from downtown LA.
The hotel’s around a 20-minute drive from LAX, traffic permitting.
Union Station is 25 minutes away by car in downtown LA, an impressive edifice in art deco and Mission styles that connects the city to major hubs including Chicago, Seattle, San Diego and New Orleans. Frankly, it’s worth a visit for the fine architecture alone.
Navigating your way to and from the hotel in West Adams is best done by cab or private car. If you opt for the latter, there are plenty of rental companies at the airport and secure valet parking under the hotel for $30 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you’ve come to LA for its glamour, glitz and big ticket attractions (of course you have…) the good news is that many are within an easy 15-minute drive of West Adams.
Join the crowds on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and pay public homage to the great and good of the silver screen, from Garbo to Gable, Monroe to the Muppets, and Donald Duck to, um, Donald Trump. Or head downtown to catch the stars of tomorrow in performance inside the Frank Gehry-designed alien spaceship that is the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and at the nearby Ahmanson Theatre, where touring Broadway musicals are the order of the day.
If the only reason you really came to LA is to slip into a red swimming costume and prance like a slo-mo gazelle across the pristine white sands of Santa Monica Beach, you’ll also find this beloved Baywatch setting 15 minutes from the Alsace. Likewise Venice Beach, with its vibrant street art and even more colourful locals. Find a buzzy brunch spot and while away an hour or two ogling the street performers, roller-skaters, and heavily inked body-builders as they go about their daily business on the boardwalk.
There are plenty of treasures to be discovered in West Adams too, if you know where to look. Staff can point you in the direction of some of the neighborhood’s most interesting buildings, a historic hotchpotch of Victorian architecture from baroque Queen Anne mansions to carefully restored Craftsman bungalows. Shoppers will be in clover here too. Incurable crate-diggers should hit up the legendary High-Fidelity record store, where you might just pick up that elusive Ray Charles LP you’ve been seeking for decades (Ray used to live round these parts, you know). Just Tantau has you covered for unique bespoke jewellery pieces, and you can chinstroke to your heart’s content in edgy contemporary exhibitions at the nearby Band of Vices and Landing art galleries.
West Adams is home to an eclectic range of eateries and, among them, Mizlala is one of the best (and closest) to Alsace. Make the five-minute pilgrimage along Adams and you’ll be rewarded with a leafy Mediterranean-style garden patio. Carelessly scattered cast-iron chairs and long, chunky wooden tables make this a great spot for socialising. Likewise the menu, all Middle Eastern mezze dishes like falafel, shawarma, sumac fries and pickles. Wash it all down with a tahini shake or hazy IPA.
A hop and a skip from Mizlala, Alta is your go-to for West Africa-influenced SoCal soul food. This casual southern-style diner opens onto a huge patio that’s great for cocktail apéritifs with friends. Sample a (literally) sparkling Purple Reign (or two) with gin, lime and edible glitter, before tucking into comforting classics like jerk-grilled plantain tacos with mango–habanero sauce, crunchy fried chicken and traditional shrimp and grits.
It’s LA baby, so you’re never more than about six feet from a Starbucks. But if you’re in the market for something a little more… interesting, do as the locals do and join the queue for morning pastries at Tartine, a solid breakfast option that’s just a couple of minutes from the hotel. The freshly baked croissants, Danish pastries, muffins and poppyseed cakes tend to sell out quickly but fear not, a double espresso or cold brew will soon perk up early-risers.
For more substantial morning fare, nearby Vees does a fine line in the kind of belly-busting breakfasts that mean you won’t need to eat another bite before dinner. We’re talking three-egg omelettes laden with bacon, mushrooms and cheese; monster breakfast burritos; and great stacks of French toast piled high with strawberries, banana, bacon and eggs, and rivers of maple syrup and whipped cream.
About a mile east along Adams, the Living Room is a small but perfectly formed speakeasy that feels like it might have been here forever. Once you’ve been granted access (ring the doorbell and wait), elbow your way to the bar for a no-nonsense negroni and drop a dollar in the jukebox to keep the blues classics spinning. Friday is karaoke night so if you’ve always dreamt of belting out a 1980s Cher classic in front of an unsuspecting public, here’s your chance.
Over the other side of Washington Boulevard lies Mandrake, where low wood ceilings, bare concrete floors and a neon sign bearing the legend ‘Unhappy Hour’ draws a mixed crowd of LA creatives, businesspeople, artists, hipsters and hangers-on. Oh, and there’s a resident ghost, too. Cocktails here include You’re Killing Me Smalls, a coronary-inducing medley of rye whiskey, milk stout and marshmallows, and the Habanera, a rather more zesty grapefruit and lime concoction that’s shot through with a heavy dose of mezcal.