In case you haven’t heard, DTLA (downtown Los Angeles) is now the city’s hottest area. Hottest area to live, work, dine and drink. After more than fifty years of stagnation, classic buildings built in the early part of the 20th century, when the area was also the core of the city, are being re-purposed as residential, commercial and retail spaces. It means a whole new population of young tenants and a wide range of new bars, restaurants and hotels to cater to them.
Where To Stay
I had a great time at the shiny new Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown. The boutique hotel, which just opened in April, sits next to the freeway and across from the Staples Center and LA Live, part of the huge new billion-dollar Metropolis mixed-use development.
If you didn’t know, Hotel Indigo is a luxury boutique hotel brand from IHG, designed to give guests a truly local experience. I just stayed at the Hotel Indigo Rome St. George and experienced the ethos for myself. In Rome, the hotel was in a very hip, residential area of the city (Trastevere), allowing me to interact with locals, not other tourists.
My room at the Hotel Indigo in Los Angeles was seriously stylish, like having my own mini-loft. I lived in DTLA for five years and a few of my lofts were just like the room, except larger. The Los Angeles vibe was further reinforced with a large mural on the wall behind bed featuring a few of the area’s newly or to-be restored landmark buildings like the State Theater, Bullocks-Wilshire building, Los Angeles Theater and Eastern Columbia building.
Dining and Drinking
One of my favorites, despite the terrible acoustics and non-acceptance of reservations, remains Bottega Louie. This large bottega (more a trattoria) serves great Italian food and has the most amazing desserts.
For drinking, I enjoyed some craft cocktails at The Varnish. This speakeasy-style bar is hidden away in the back of Cole’s, the iconic beef dip restaurant. Although it’s not a huge space, you can usually get yourself a booth or table and enjoy some wonderful, expertly crafted cocktails.
We also had a great happy hour at the Hotel Indigo’s lobby bar. The happy hour menu featured a nice selection of $5 snack size portions of some of their delicious menu items. We especially enjoyed the sliders and mini Korean tacos.
The new kid of the block is The Broad, a modern art museum funded by LA billionaire Eli Broad. Right across the street is MOCA, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, which has a very nice collection. For LA’s best museum experience, I suggest a trip out of downtown east on Wilshire Blvd. a few miles to the city’s large main art museum, LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.