When telling my friends of our upcoming trip to Los Angeles, I was met by the same expression more than once. They raised their eyebrows as if to say: “Los Angeles? You mean the city of all things Hollywood-rich-and-famous-show-business? Really?”. One was even blunt enough to ask me out loud. I sort of see where they were coming from, my hard to convince friends. Some had never visited themselves but only knew of the city from the media. Others had only spent a day or two when road tripping the west coast, and thus had not really gotten the opportunity to get to know the city. As we explored Los Angeles for eight full days (which was hardly enough—that city is huge), I was glad to experience that the city is as diverse and multifaceted as few I have visited before. The posh and touristy neighbourhoods of Hollywood and Beverly Hills are one thing, whilst the cooler and much more low-key areas such as Silver Lake, Echo Park and Arts District are an entirely different one.
World famous architectural homes in the hills mixed with palm trees and beach vibes as well as the glass buildings and hip boutiques of Downtown LA: Los Angeles has something for everyone. I found the city exciting, overwhelming and inspiring. Bursting with great food, beautiful design and that relaxed LA-vibe that instantly draws you in and hinders your pre-made plans of visiting a million places on your list. At least, that's what I experienced, and though I didn't make it to half of them, I would still recommend doing a bit of research before going. LA is pretty much made up from what feels like hundreds of independent cities, and going from one to the other often takes time in a heavy traffic. This makes focusing on a neighbourhood a day a good way to start exploring the ginormous city. Below, I have collected some of my favourite eateries, coffee shops and boutiques, all located in neighbourhoods I would recommend spending time in.
Gjusta Bakery Eatery | Venice Beach
Gjusta quickly won us over; we visited on our second day in LA, and made it back twice for a chance to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner here (though not on the same day). This charming eatery in Venice Beach is a sister restaurant to the much hyped Gjelina located just a few blocks away.
Gjusta is just as popular, more low-key and serves delicious meals from fresh and local produce. Order at the counter, find a seat in the relaxed courtyard, and enjoy fresh salads, pizzas, fulfilling sandwiches, or baked goods from the bakery.
Los Angeles is one beautifully located city, and the surrounding hills and mountains make for a scenic backdrop pretty much wherever you look.
However, if you're looking for the most spectacular view of the city, visit the iconic Griffith Observatory.
Not only will the drive up to Mount Hollywood reveal magnificent views of the area (the Hollywood sign included) but the building is a sight in itself.Inaugurated in 1935, this art-deco observatory is open to the public six days a week, and though it gets crowded at sunset, the views are well worth the crowds.
In a city where interior design felt mainly inspired by a bohemian way of life, I found Formerly Yes a welcomed alternative. Located in Downtown LA, couple Brad and Jenna elegantly curate a selection of their favourite designs.
With items sourced from Japan and Scandinavia, as well as the rest of the world, Formerly Yes want to inspire us to buy less but better, and their shelves filled with minimalist design is a great place to start.
With a central location, great service and beautiful design, The Line Hotel was the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring LA. Located in Korea-town, a buzzing neighbourhood close to DTLA,
this hip hotel welcomed us with a pool deck planted with citrus trees, amazing views of the Hollywood Hills from the room, and delicious breakfast in beautiful surroundings in the hotel's greenhouse restaurant Commissary.
This intimate and welcoming restaurant in Echo Park not only has a beautiful interior, but also their own garden providing some of the produce on the menu. The rest of the ingredients are locally sourced and a lot of the cooking happens over a live fire in the small kitchen.
The menu offers classic American inspired fare with an Italian twist, and the grilled Monkfish as well as chef's roasted vegetables are popular here.
Owned by Keiko and Taku Shinimoto, this shop is filled with hand-picked designs from Japanese artists. Tortoise General Store is located right on the popular Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach, and occasionally offers traditional Japanese tea tastings in their little backyard.
After visiting Japan earlier this year, my love for Japanese design has only grown, and stumbling across this little shop resulted in a new tea pot, a couple of vases, and small presents for sweet kids back home.
In LA's hipster-friendly Echo Park, Dinette serves one of the best brunches we had during our stay. Tucked away on a street corner with no indoor seating (but when in the city of eternal sunshine, who really needs those?) the to-go counter offers coffee, breakfast and lunch. The salmon toast and waffles were delicious, and the menu has a good selection of both savoury dishes and sweet snacks. After starting your day here, walk south on Sunset Boulevard and you will pass a good selection of Echo Park's shops and cafes.
Restaurants in Silver Lake are plentiful, and this area stands out as being one of the few walk-able neighbourhoods of LA, with almost everything located conveniently close to Sunset Boulevard. Sawyer has not only the best garden patio in the area, but also a menu serving sea food as shareable plates in beautiful surroundings. Reservations are recommended, as this is a popular spot amongst locals.
The apartment by the line design shop | west hollywood
A branch of the popular New York showroom, The Apartment By The Line have recently opened up in LA. This apartment is as enviable as the original one (how they manage to find such beautiful spaces in both cities is beyond me). As usual, everything is for sale, and even if your budget doesn't allow for any larger purchases in here, it's a great place to get inspired.