ELLEUK

Holiday Inspiration

LA LOWDOWN

By Susan Ward Davies

Over on the East Side
Located a few miles East of the famous Sunset Strip and home to the likes of Katy Perry, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Rachel McAdams, Silver Lake was recently named by Forbes as the ‘Best Hipster Neighbourhood in America’ (compliment or insult? Residents can't decide). Now visitors can enjoy the food trucks and farmers’ markets for themselves with a stay at the newly-opened El Tres Inn (doubles from around £76) 4439 W Sunset Blvd, enq: 323 666-6351; eltresinn.com) It's less of a hotel, more like three gorgeous New York style apartments on the Los Feliz/Silver Lake border, where you’ll feel like you’re crashing in the home of a particularly cool Angeleno friend.

While in Silver Lake, enjoy tartare de thon and a French 77 cocktail at chic brasserie Café Stella (3932 W Sunset Blvd, enq: 323 666-0265, cafestella.com); shop for APC sweaters, Cire Trudon candles and Persol sunglasses at Mohawk General Store (4011 W Sunset Blvd, enq: 323 669 1601; mohawkgeneralstore.net) and knock back half –a- dozen Maine Flats at the candlelit L&E Oyster Bar (1637 Silver Lake Blvd, enq: 323 660-2255; leoysterbar.com). Or sip on a Pina Colada at Tiki Ti (4427 W Sunset Blvd, enq: 323 669 9381; tiki-ti.com): this gloriously kitsch tiki bar is over 70 years old and still going as strong as its drinks.
Head a mile south down Sunset and you’ll reach Echo Park – the Dalston to Silver Lake’s Shoreditch – where painfully hip creative types co-mingle with Mexican families who have lived in the areas for years. Echo Park is the slightly edgy home to dive bars like Gold Room (1558 W Sunset Blvd, enq: 213 482-5259) where they serve free tacos with their beers, and offers some of LA's most imaginative uses of kale at Sage Organic Vegan Bistro (1700 W Sunset Blvd, enq: 213 989 1718; sageveganbistro.com). But there is glitz among the grunge: intimate bar El Prado (1805 W Sunset Blvd, enq: 213 484-6079; elpradobar.com) offers locally brewed beers and artisanal cheese plates, while new restaurant Red Hill (1325 Echo Park Ave, enq: 213 482 0886; redhillrestaurant.com) serves up delectable ‘small plates’ of duck fat yams and warm beignets with lardo.
Melrose + More
For a more familiar LA experience (and a lot of excellent shopping) stay at the newly-opened PaliHotel on Melrose Avenue (Rooms from $199, 7950 Melrose Avenue, enq: 323 272 4588; pali-hotel.com). The 32 room boutique hotel provides Dean and Deluca stocked mini bars, on site Thai massage, and access to the plethora of vintage stores and big brand names that line one of LA's most famous shopping streets.

Juices are still big news in health conscious LA, with the best being served at Pressed Juicery (8714 Santa Monica Blvd, enq: 310 854-4407; pressedjuicery.com) and Lily Allen's favourite Moon Juice in Venice Beach (507 Rose Ave, enq: 310-399-2929; moonjuiceshop.com) - both of which use a hydraulic press in order to retain maximum nutrients. With many Angelenos happy to fork out $10 for a bottle of liquidised spinach, ‘juiceries’ are popping up all over the place. Soon to open on Melrose is Glow by Kimberly Snyder (7434 Melrose Ave; glowbykimberlysnyder.com): a new venture by the nutritionist behind the radiant complexions of Dita Von Teese and, erm, Fergie.

Speaking of Dita Von Teese – her recent food diary on Grub Street Los Angeles revealed that she maintains those famous curves by eating a mostly vegan, mostly organic diet. Her lunch delivery of choice? An ‘I Am Fortified’ bowl with brown rice, tahini and kale from the all-organic Café Gratitude (639 N Larchmont Blvd, enq: 323 580-6383; cafegratitude.com) - which is delicious if you can stomach the cringeworthy menu names - followed later in the day by a persimmon cocktail at perennial LA favourite, The Hungry Cat (1535 Vine Street, Enq: 323 462-2155; thehungrycat.com).

Fitness Fads & Beauty Trends
Any type of exercise that takes place on a bike is currently big news in LA, but of course plain old cycling won’t cut it. Instead, Angelenos go in for Cyclelates (1555 N Vine St; cyclelates.com), which is cycle and pilates, YAS (various locations; go2yas.com), which stands for Yoga and Spin, or recently arrived New York transplant Soul Cycle (various locations; soul-cycle.com), which is spinning combined with ‘inspirational coaching and high-energy music’. Hmm.

As in London and NYC, nail art has become a must-have accessory for every style-conscious LA resident, many of whom flock to one of Marie Nails’ (various locations; mariesnails.com) three salons for glittery gels and stiletto sharp acrylics. For the really well-connected, celebrity nail artist and all round cool girl Madeline Poole - aka MP Nails (mpnails.com) - works on a one-on-one basis with clients such as Ke$ha and Kelly Osbourne to create the individually-personalised designs that nail art dreams are made of.

Downtown Dining
LA’s culinary reputation might rest on an incongruous combination of tofu and tacos, but the city is starting to take fine dining very seriously indeed. Downtown LA is home to a rapidly expanding selection of LA’s best new restaurants, where you can enjoy everything from a crispy pork belly bäco at Bäco Mercat (408 S Main St, enq: 213 687-8808; bacomercat.com) - a signature flatbread sandwich developed by chef Josef Centeno, in case you were wondering - to estofado de Alpaca at LA hotspot Mo-Chica (514 W. 7th Street, enq: 213. 622.3744; mo-chica.com). The slowly simmered stew of – yep, that’s right – Alpaca meat is one of several Peruvian dishes currently alighting Angeleno tastebuds; for more where that came from, try out Head Chef Ricardo Zarate’s other highly-regarded restaurant Picca (9575 W Pico Blvd, enq: (310) 277-0133; piccaperu.com) over in West LA.

When the food coma kicks in, stumble back to your room at the recently opened Omni (doubles from around £170), 251 S Olive St, enq: 213 617-3300; omnihotels.com) in Little Tokyo or Moroccan-themed haven the Figueroa (doubles from £90, 939 S Figueroa St, enq: 213 627 8971; figueroahotel.com): two well-located resting spots that offer a real LA experience without a Beverly Hills price tag.

The Countdown to Christmas
Angelenos celebrate the build up Christmas much like us Brits: by ice-skating (at downtown’s historic Pershing Square), shopping (at Disney-esque shopping centre The Grove or on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica), and getting drunk.

With December temperatures hovering in the low twenties it can be hard to feel Christmassy, but some of the most cosiest cocktail lounges can be found in downtown LA. Beat the LA chill (ahem) with seasonal concoctions such as the hot buttered rum 'Soul of Mayahuel' at Drago Centro (525 S Flower St, enq: 213) 228-8998; dragocentro.com), the warming Irish Coffee at Seven Grand (515 West 7th Street #2, enq: 213 614-0737; sevengrandbars.com) or a hot toddy at laidback jazz lounge The Varnish (118 East 6th Street, enq: 213 622 9999; 213nightlife.com/thevarnish). Now's the time to indulge in a calorific cocktail before the detox begins in earnest – January is almost here, which can only mean one thing: Awards Season.

Photo of ice skating: Alamy
Photo of Baco Mercat: Dylan + Jeni

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