A Breeze Through Los Angeles Offers A Glamorous Escape Into Beautiful People’s Urban Adventures…
By Doug Wallace
“Okay, now turn your right foot to face the Hollywood sign and get your back foot ready for Warrior One.”
I’m really not in Kansas anymoreI think.
I’m on the roof of the Thompson Hollywood Hotel, trying to shield my bald head from the sun and my right hip pulled back. I stretch a little not too far from a very nice swimming pool which will end up cooling me down after yoga. I had lunch at an adjacent cafe the day before – a Salad Niçoise, of course, is the land of health and plumpness – so I can skip that today. But I say “Hey” to some of the blue and white striped waiters I recognize, all of whom are gorgeous. Actors, of course. They are everywhere in this city.
Normally I would swing with the West Hollywood hipsters, LA Gay Central. But this time, I’m living the dream in Hollywood proper – watching the Escalades’ shiny ferry ride around the beautiful people who keep the movie machine humming, and connecting to the beat of the daytime folks who keep this part of town going. Everyone is going about their business, kindly pointing tourists in the right direction.
Me, I get lost. I seek out a posh tequila store, and with a course correction, I find myself on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in all its terrazzo and brass glory. In a moment of total kismet, within the first five yards, I see my favorite movie star – Angela Lansbury. Trying not to step on a homeless man, I inadvertently step on Angela Lansbury. There really is nothing gayer than Angela Lansbury. Except maybe Linda Evans.
With iconic stuff practically everywhere you look, it’s hard to figure out exactly what to do first in Hollywood. There are plenty of extremely fun bus tours – celebrity homes and the beautiful surrounding hills. Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the biggest tourist attractions, and Hollywood Boulevard itself is a dizzying kaleidoscopic sea of things to transport you back to Hollywood’s Golden Age, while rubbing you against its sordid underbelly.
We decide to branch out a bit, heading to Burbank at Warner Bros. Studio Tour and instantly become kids again. We’re still in the lobby, but already taking selfies with a bronze Bugs Bunny. Instagram moments that follow include Scooby Doo, The The Big Bang Theory living room, the Harry Potter Sorting Hat and the Friends fountain and famous orange sofa, which ends up being made of rock-hard fiberglass – fantasy is big in this town. We continue this tour with a visit to the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on Wilshire Boulevard, which features a brilliant exhibition on animation, including an in-depth retrospective of Japanese animation filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. A small corner of the top floor of the museum exhibits a toy story zoetrope, an age-old optical toy in which a rotating platform gives stationary figures the impression of continuous motion. I can’t get away from it, watching it five times, seeing something new each time.
Other times I eat
Americans love their food, of course, and Los Angeles is the land of plenty. Hollywood itself has a number of destination restaurants. I sit on a bar stool at the Peruvian hot spot Los Balcones, across from Netflix, and order a creamy Pisco Sour and a plate of ceviche, perfectly spiced, sprinkled with crispy corn kernels. This Peruvian theme continues the next day at Smorgasburg, a weekly food truck festival at a downtown produce market, where the first thing in my mouth is a pork belly taco from Little Llama Peruvian Tacos. I continue with the Chimmelier Korean fried chicken and brave the Lobsterdamus lineup.
No wonder, then, that I wasn’t hungry when I later sank into a red leather booth at Musso & Frank’s restaurant, a Hollywood classic at 103. It’s on my list because of its special appearance as a favorite haunt of Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin in The Kominsky method. My plate of duck confit is heaven itself. I take a quick photo of the magnificent frescoes above the banquettes before leaving, only to be scolded by the manager for intruding on his customers’ privacy in this way. TTT…TTT. As a Canadian, I naturally apologize, before saying, “There’s no one here anyway,” on my way out. It’s not like I’m a paparazzi for Al Pacino or anything.
When we are not eating, we are drinking, of course. Hollywood is full of cocktail bars, each seemingly more inventive than the next. Grandmaster Recorders’ 71 Studio Bar pays homage to the venue’s former life as a recording studio, favored by David Bowie and Stevie Wonder. Sunset & Vinyl spins real vinyl in a retro game room-style environment, filled with velvet furniture and dim lights. The glam Tramp Stamp Granny’s belongs to Joy star Darren Criss – that’s enough of a draw for me. And the Black Rabbit Lounge is the only magic-themed bar in town, offering tabletop magic tricks and live music every night.
Rooftop bars are still all the rage in Hollywood, most anchored in a boutique hotel, all filled with more beautiful people per square mile than I’ve ever seen in my life. Desert 5 Spot – a country bar, of all places – tops the roof of the Tommie Hollywood store around the corner from my headquarters, the Thompson. People actually wear cowboy hats. What looks like a few rock bands are lounging in the ringing cabanas by the pool of the Highlight Room Grill on the roof of the Dream Hollywood hotel, another scene to see and see.
The Mama Shelter Los Angeles hotel has what appears to be the most popular rooftop lounge, judging by the elegant crowd surrounding the doormen, who carefully count the bodies in the stairwell. I decide to call it a night and go home. I did yoga in the morning.
DOUG WALLACE is an international travel and lifestyle writer, photographer and custom content authority, Director of Wallace Media and Editor-in-Chief of TravelRight.Today. It can be found next to buffet tables, on massage tables and at tables all over the world.