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LA for everyone: West Hollywood (part two)

Thursday, September 3, 2009
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.

Read Jules' behind the scenes blog from LA

Read the Ninemsn Travel Insiders' Guide to LA


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

For Further Information

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476

The London West Hollywood

1020 N San Vicente Boulevard
West Hollywood CA 90069
United States
Ph: +1 866 282 4560

The Grove

189 The Grove Drive
Los Angeles CA 90036
United States
Ph: +1 323 900 8080

Farmers' Market

6333 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles CA90036
United States
Ph: +1 323 933 9211

Best Western Sunset Plaza

8400 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90069-1910
United States
Ph: +1 323 654 0750
Fax: +1 323 650 6146

Banana Bungalow

603 N. Fairfax Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90036
Ph: +1 323 655 2002

Saddle Ranch Chop House

8371 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90069
United States
Ph: +1 323 656 2007

Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine-readable passport with at least six months validity after the departure date, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. From January 2009, Australians need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at

Electricity: Electric current is 110V to 115v, 60Hz AC. Outlets take two-parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.

Time zone: The United States has nine standard time zones. California is GMT -7 hours.

Currency: The American dollar.

Telephone code: International dialling code is 0011 1

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