When you're in Los Angeles
, there are two Hollywoods to visit: touristy Hollywood and the trendy West Hollywood. Catriona Rowntree, Dermott Brereton and Jules Lund looked at the luxury side, family side and budget side of West Hollywood.
Just off Sunset Boulevard is a new place to stay: The London West Hollywood. High above the Hollywood Hills, the former Bel Age Hotel has had a US$54 million ($65 million) renovation and is now fit for royalty.
It has 200 suites with huge bathrooms, walk-in double rain-showers, big tubs, bespoke furnishings, velvet upholstery, mosaic tiles and private dressing area. Its rooftop cabanas, pool and garden have city views, spa, there's gourmet food and the concierge can get you into just about any club in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is in the middle of a love affair with Britain, with the popularity of Posh and Becks, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Gordon Ramsay. And guess where the controversial chef has opened a restaurant?
Catriona ran into Jimmy Barnes, who loves to stay at The London he was in town writing and recording. It's his favourite spot for many reasons: friendly staff, great service and close to the action of Sunset Boulevard. By the way, Barnes' album, The Rhythm and the Blues has just been released. It pays homage to the music of the 1950s.
The Grove outdoor shopping centre has something for everyone in the family: dining, choreographed fountains and free live concerts. Every well-known label is there, and then some. Dermott discovered that at the rear of just about every store are seasonal sale racks with ridiculously cheap items begging to be purchased. The best part of that is that what's out of season there is in season in Australia.
There are around 20 places to stop for a bite to eat, and it's not all junk food. There are lots of healthy options.
Farmers Market, right next door, has been running for 75 years and its open-air stalls sell everything from ice-cream to fresh meat, healthy and not-so-healthy food, clothing, groceries and scented candles. It's open until late every day and is a great place to wander.
To recharge your batteries, Best Western Sunset Plaza is good value for money. It's right on the strip, has just 100 rooms with microwaves, refrigerators, some with jacuzzis, and breakfast is included. There's a welcoming secluded courtyard and pool.
When you're ready to hit the streets again, the hotel is just minutes away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Getty Museum.
If your budget is a bit limited, and in a city where you will spend most of your time away from your accommodation, Jules has found the perfect place. Banana Bungalow West Hollywood is one of America's most popular hostels. (There are several in California and Hawaii
They have rooms catering for up to six people with closet space, baths and showers, and private rooms (some with balconies) have queen beds and televisions.
There's a common kitchen and dining area, a street-side patio and a movie lounge showing free movies on a big screen.
And its location is perfect right in the middle of the Melrose Strip which has loads of things to amuse and entertain. Magic Mountain and Universal Studios are 10 minutes to the north, and head south for Disneyland and the Queen Mary. To the west is the famous Venice Beach, and downtown LA and Chinatown are due east. The efficient metro costs around $5.
If nightclubs and fancy restaurants aren't your thing, check out the Saddle Ranch Chophouse, where rock meets western. This restaurant is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails. The rustic ranch-style building of wood and stone has faux balconies and saloon girls, a large patio with campfire pits and, of course, a mechanical bull. The menu is fantastic and they offer home-style cooking and down-home hospitality.
The London West Hollywood rooms start at around $250 a night.
The Grove is open from Monday to Thursday from 10am to 9pm, Friday and Saturday 10am to 10pm and Sunday 11am to 8pm.
Best Western Sunset Plaza Hotel rooms start at around $215 a night.
Banana Bungalow West Hollywood dormitories are around $30 per person a night and private rooms are around $80 per person a night.
Air New Zealand flies daily to Los Angeles.
One-way fares from:
- Sydney $1447
- Melbourne $1429
- Adelaide $1715
- Perth $1729
- Brisbane $1453
On sale until September 8, 2009, and for travel between January 26 and March 27, 2010.
Prices correct at September 3, 2009