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Weekend Away: Downtown L.A.

April 9, 2011 - By Christine Gray

Considering Los Angeles for a weekend escape? Downtown L.A. is the latest hotspot for the arts, entertainment, sports, dining, shopping and, of course, nightlife. With the opening of the dazzling new Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, your accommodation will be another of the many pleasures that await.

Our arrival in the intimate lobby with a minimalist Zen feel is a precursor for what's to come. The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles is a boutique city sanctuary. It offers just 123 luxurious guest rooms and suites on the 22nd-26th floors of a gleaming 54-story tower that it shares with its sister hotel, The JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE and The Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. LIVE.

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles guestroom

Our bellman, Marty (drummer and former member of Blue Man Group), escorts us to our Club Level guest room. The sleek, contemporary design is a departure from Ritz-Carlton's traditional, clubby aesthetic. The views pack the WOW factor – we can see north to the Hollywood sign and Griffith Park Observatory in the Hollywood Hills and as far west as Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean, past Century City and Beverly Hills.

The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles is at the center of one of the most exciting parts of the city, but our first thought is to unwind. I summon the Bath Butler to draw an aromatic bath complemented by a glass of Champagne and prepare to lure my husband into the decadent soaking tub that is large enough for two.

Continuing our post-trip relaxation, we meander down the hallway to the expansive Club Lounge for some afternoon Hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. We are greeted by name by the Club Concierge who offers to help with reservations or transportation. From our window seats we are treated to a dramatic sunset with cloud formations creating a "fogdog" lighting up the skyscrapers of Century City – amazing!

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles rooftop pool

From the Club Lounge we head to the 26th floor to check out the rooftop pool, Jacuzzi and bar surrounded by cabanas, conversational seating areas and loungers. There is also a 2,000-square-foot fitness center. We ask to see the Ritz-Carlton Suite on the 25th floor. Among the hotel's 14 suites, The Ritz-Carlton Suite is the hotel's largest at 3,000 square feet. It is equivalent to a Royal or Presidential Suite. Boasting the same incredible northern and western views that we have in our Club Level guest room, it features an expansive living area, dining room, kitchen, office space, master bedroom, along with a huge dressing area, marble bathroom with double shower and a central deep soaking tub facing televisions mounted in the mirrors of his-and-hers' sinks.

We head back to our room to dress for dinner at celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck's WP24. Located on the 24th floor of the hotel, WP24 Restaurant & Lounge features modern Chinese cuisine from a dining area with floor to ceiling windows providing a stunning view of the Los Angeles skyline. In addition to a spacious dining room and lounge, the restaurant offers a wine cave and two private dining rooms.

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles WP24 restaurant

After dinner, we emerge from the hotel to stroll the L.A. LIVE pedestrian zone bordered by the STAPLES Center, Nokia Theatre, Club Nokia, Regal Cinemas, the Conga Room, Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge, The GRAMMY® Museum and a vast array of restaurants. The Staples Center is home to basketball's Lakers, Clippers and Sparks, the NHL's L.A. Kings, as well as big-name concerts. The Nokia Theatre also hosts a number of concerts as well as world-famous events like the Grammys, the Emmys and the American Idol finale. We re-enter the hotel through the JW Marriott lobby that is connected to the Ritz-Carlton lobby by a passageway. The JW Marriott lobby is sleek, futuristic and expansive featuring restaurants, a coffee house, hip bars and lounges.

The next morning we take advantage of the convenience of the Club Lounge for breakfast and then we are off to discover downtown. I haven't been to Downtown L.A. since the mid-1990's, so everything is new to me except the original historic locations. We get a walking map and head up to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, less than a mile from the hotel, where we take a free self-guided tour. Designed by Frank Gehry, it opened in 2003 as the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Walt Disney  Concert Hall

One block from the Music Center is the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). We continue past the Central Library where we turn onto Fifth Street in to the Historic Core with its Victorian, Beaux Arts and Art Deco buildings. We pass by 7th and Hill, where five thousand precious gem and metal retailers make up the largest Jewelry District outside of New York City.

The Bottega Louie Restaurant and Gourmet Market at 7th & Grand is the quintessential Italian café and an ideal spot for refreshments or lunch. The atmosphere is both sophisticated and welcoming and we decide to sample from the menu of delicious entrees and pastries. Revived and ready for new sights, our next stop is The GRAMMY® Museum. My favorite part is the special John Lennon exhibit (available until September 5, 2011). Other sightseeing choices include: the Fashion District, Chinatown, Olvera Street and El Pueblo, Little Tokyo, and the Arts District.

Bottega Louie

Foot-weary travelers like us can return to The Ritz-Carlton Spa, downtown L.A.'s only full-service hotel spa. This luxurious, 8,000-square-foot sanctuary is designed to reflect the glamour and excitement of Los Angeles with a "Champagne and Shimmer' design theme of white and gold. With nine treatment rooms, two Eucalyptus steam rooms, cold plunge showers and two relaxation lounges, the Spa offers a true respite from the city. We loved the choice of mini-treatments for just $20 each: Invigorating Scalp Massage, Warming Foot Scrub and Massage, Stimulating Skin Brushing, Balancing Spinal Infusion, and Eye and Lip Wrinkle Repair. The Spa also offers a Couple's Retreat Package and co-ed relaxation lounge.

Tonight, the view from our room treats us to the sliver of a new moon over the Hollywood Hills. The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles truly offers the best of both worlds – a pampering city sanctuary with the exciting world of entertainment at your feet. Once experienced, this is a destination you'll want to return to again and again.

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles Hotel Spa

View Hotel Profile: The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles

DOWNTOWN L.A. INSIDER TIPS

DOWNTOWN L.A. GALLERY ASSOCIATION www.dtlagalleries.com

DOWNTOWN L.A. ART WALK www.downtownartwalk.com

THE GRAMMY MUSEUM: Permanent and rotating interactive exhibits. www.grammymuseum.org

BOTTEGA LOUIE: Best for lunch or brunch because it gets so loud at night. Definitely visit. www.bottegalouie.com

LA FILM FESTIVAL: This will be the second year the Festival is hosted Downtown and will begin in June. www.lafilmfestival.org

PATINA RESTAURANT: Relais & Chateaux member located in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, 141 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. www.patinarestaurant.com

CANA RUM BAR: Terrific rum bar a few blocks from The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles. www.canarumbar.com

SUGARFISH: New sushi spot from a well known L.A. sushi master. www.sugarfishsushi.com

SEVEN GRAND: Very cool whiskey bar above Mas Malo. www.sevengrand.la

LA CONSERVANCY: Leads wonderful walking tours of downtown Los Angeles www.laconservancy.org

FIDM MUSEUM: A small museum that showcases different fashion related exhibits. Right now for example they have the costumes from the recently nominated Academy Award films. www.fidmmuseum.org

A BIT FARTHER AFIELD (longer walk or short drive)

THE VARNISH: A speakeasy-esque cocktail bar tucked into the back of Cole's. Excellent cocktails. www.thevarnishbar.com

LAS PERLAS: The tequila/mezcal bar. www.lasperlas.la

BABYCAKES: The new Los Angeles outpost of the popular New York vegan bakery. www.babycakesnyc.com

DRAGO CENTRO: Fine dining Italian from a family that has been cooking in Los Angeles for ages.
www.dragocentro.com


 

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