Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to LA (Los Angeles)
Tell us a little about yourself and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel in Los Angeles.
Hey all! My name is Sadie and before I left LA to travel, I was working in the film industry as a costumer. I was born and raised in a small town in Kansas, but that lifestyle never suited me. As soon as I graduated high school, I left the small town life looking for a bigger city to call home. That’s where I found LA. For the last 11 years, I have called the City of Angels my home and have explored all over the city. From the super high end to the most run down hole in the wall, I have tried them all.
What makes Los Angeles a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
Los Angeles has everything any traveler could want. If you want the crazy life of the big city, LA has it. If you are looking for a more peaceful getaway in nature, it’s just a short drive away. You could literally go surfing in the morning and then hit up the slopes of Mountain High by the afternoon.
When I first moved to LA, I was very skeptical, but that soon went away once I realized how much this city has to offer.
What 5 star hotel is the best in LA?
I’m a sucker for history, so my top choice for a 5 star hotel would be the 100 year old Langham Huntington in Pasadena. It might be a little bit of a drive from LA proper, but it’s well worth it.
The Langham was built in a time when some of the top architects lived in Pasadena. To call it just a 5 star hotel is cutting it short. The Langham is a grand hotel. It has 2 historic ballrooms, a beautiful courtyard garden (perfect for afternoon tea), a cocktail lounge reminiscent of the 1920s, and one of the best wood fired steak houses I have ever tasted.
There are around 400 rooms to stay in ranging from a more than average guest room to private cottages all the way to your very own 2 story penthouse suite.
What about boutique hotels in LA, of them all, which would you send your friends or family to stay at?
My recommendation for a boutique hotel is more on the trendy side. It might not be my top recommendation for my parents, but I would absolutely send my sister or friends to the Standard Downtown.
I spent many hours at the Standard, and I love this hotel.
The rooftop bar is the perfect hangout during those hot summer days or even at night once it cools down. Where else can you watch movies projected on the neighboring building while swimming in a pool that over looks the lovely LA skyline?
I’m not good at ping pong at all, but I definitely gave it my best try at the Spin club on the 2nd floor, and the food and drinks at both bars at pretty tasty. If you’re a whisky fan, I recommend the Dickle Pickle.
The rooms at the Standard are well….standard but with a crisp, clean modern twist. The bathrooms are pretty sexy too!
Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler in LA?
Where do I begin with this. LA has so much to offer for anyone looking for adventure.
There are whale watching boats that go out daily during the peak season. Some of them are quick trips, or you can find others that offer lunch and dinner.
I am a big fan of scuba diving, and LA has a couple of the top sites in the world. The Channel Islands are perfect for anyone looking for a day trip. If you would rather dive during a weekend getaway, take the ferry to Catalina Island. You can rent gear on the island and walk right into the marine park near the old casino.
One of my favorite activities to do during the summer is paddle boarding through Naples Canal (in Long Beach). Not only are you paddling through some of the coolest homes on the west coast, but you can also dock your board at the bars along the canal for a quick rest and a cocktail before paddling on.
Hiking is another favorite activity of mine. Pretty much every week I would take my dog out exploring different trails around LA. You can find waterfalls, abandoned mines, hidden stairways, and even some mysterious structures. I would recommend either heading out the Angeles National Forest or up the cost to the Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades. If you don’t want to venture too far from the city center, Griffith Park has some good trails to check out too.
Where are the best hang outs during the day in LA?
Once spring hits, my boyfriend and I would usually rent bikes and ride up the coast to the different beach bars. My personal favorite is Back to the Beach in Santa Monica. It is a good ride from Venice, and I am usually ready for a cold glass of bubbly once we get there.
Another favorite place to hang out is the Malibu Winery. The winery is located in the mountains just east of Malibu. They have a huge lawn for their guest to set up picnics and live music is normally playing on the weekends. It’s the perfect getaway from the crazy city.
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Los Angeles and what are their best dishes?
I have to go back to the Langham Hotel for this one. Their wood fire steak house is called The Royce, and it is probably one of the best places I have eaten in LA. My boyfriend and I actually went there for our 1 year anniversary, and we still talk about it to this day.
First, start off your evening with a little wine tasting while you wait for your table.
As far as main course recommendations, I have a hard time thinking about what to recommend because honestly it was all soooooo good! I don’t think you could make a bad choice. One thing I will say is to be sure to save room for dessert and order the chef’s dessert sampler. I died when our plate came out!
Let’s talk desserts- what place makes the best?
My top place that I must take everyone who visits me in LA to is Fosselmans ice cream. This place has been making ice cream since 1919, and it is the absolute best ice cream you will ever taste. They only sell to select grocers and in limited flavors, so you’re better off going to the original shop in Alhambra. My personal favorite is the peppermint stick hot fudge sundae.
If you are a little more health conscious, try out Café Gratitude or it’s sister restaurant Sage. Both have raw and vegan desserts that could satisfy even the biggest sweet tooth. At Café Gratitude, I would recommend the chocolate coconut cream pie, and at Sage, the raw brownie sundae. Both of these places are really good for dinner too.
Tell us all the hot shopping spots; who’s carrying the trendy local designers in LA?
I like checking out the shops on Melrose or Abbot Kinney. They are more boutique-like and you can find local designers.
Art walks are all the rage in LA too. If you happen to be there while one is going on, I would say to check it out. Tons of local designers set up stands to sell their clothing or jewelry, and you can meet local artistians!
What are a couple of the best salons and spas in Los Angeles?
For a good spa day, go to a Korean Spa. My top 2 recommendations would be the Wi Spa or the Olympic Spa. You can spend all day soaking in the different temperature pools or sweating in the saunas. If you want more, both places offer facial and massage treatments.
Time for a great sunset view in LA… where would you go?
LA has no shortage of great sunsets. If you are along the coast stop off at any of the restaurant/bars along the PCH in Malibu. Most of them have balconies right over the water where you can sip cocktails and watch the sky turn beautiful colors of red, purple, and blue as the sun fades beyond the horizon.
If you are more inland, head up to the observatory in Griffith Park. You can catch the sunset and then look at the stars and planets through their mega telescope.
Now that the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot.
My all time favorite place to go for after work drinks is the Culver Hotel. It’s another historic hotel in LA having been the housing for all the actors in Wizard of Oz. Their main lobby is set to look like an old library. Silent movies are projected on the wall and live big band jazz starts at 7pm.
I’m big on dirty martinis, and the Culver Hotel makes one hell of a martini! If you need something a little fruitier, I would recommend the Culver Lemonade.
At 7, they also open up the Velvet Lounge on the second floor. It’s just what it sounds like, a lounge full of velvet furniture, but you can have a more intimate drink up there since everyone else is usually downstairs. You also get a nice view of Culver Blvd.
If you end the night at a fancy club, which one do you head towards?
Hands down the Edison downtown. You can probably tell by now that I like the more vintage places. The Edison is a speakeasy that was built in an old Edison electric building underneath some shops and apartments. All of the old equipment is still intact and is being used as tables and decoration.
They too project silent and shadow movies on the walls. Bands and burlesque dancers perform on the weekends. If you’re lucky, you might even be there when the areal performers put on a show.
For the last 11 years, Sadie has called Los Angeles home. She recently left LA to travel the world and work with various animals and environmental conservation programs. She has worked in coral restoration, fought the illegal wildlife trade, and much more. You can follow Sadie’s adventures on her blog Eclectic Trekker. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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