It's merely February and it already feels like summer, with trees exploding in flowering blossoms and idyllic 80-degree tanning weather, all despite the much promised El Nino. Unlike New York or SF, Los Angeles is booming with innovative real estate developments facilitating a working creative class who has still not been priced out of the city's urban epicenter. Saint Laurent thought it cool enough to host part of its Fall/Winter show there and galleries like Regen Projects, Michael Kohn and Honor Frasier sit at the forefront of a vibrant contemporary art scene, as NYC now handles mainly the already-established, late-stage talent.
The city's hotel scene hasn't evolved much in the last two decades with the Chateau Marmont keeping the cool Hollywood crowd at bay and both the Four Seasons and Peninsula in Beverly Hills tending to the corporate class. Look for The James to open along the Sunset Strip later this year in an architecturally predictable tower reminiscent of every other 20-story + building constructed there since 2000. Slightly chicer, Dream Hotel will debut in Hollywood with a 'Neutra-inspired' design and yet another rooftop pool option - hopefully avoiding the same fate as the nearby W Hollywood’s. But it’s really the chicer, smaller hotels that impress. Hotel Covell and The Line Hotel both offer inspired design properties in trendier neighborhoods like Los Feliz and Koreatown while an upcoming sequel to NYC's Nomad Hotel, equipped with rooftop pool and celeb eatery, is planned along downtown’s Giannini Place (pictured), once the headquarters of Bank of America.
In terms of dining, LA is slow on innovation with too many of its new eateries duplicating the much overdone rustic, boho look with too-foodie menus that favor trend over ingredient and technique. A worthy exception is Cassia in Santa Monica with its new spin on Vietnamese French cuisine or the much-awarded Alma that shuttered from its downtown location but temporarily pops-up at Hollywood's Standard Hotel with an innovative ala carte menu. No small feat to survive the LA restaurant scene for a year, let alone three decades, Spago simply gets better and better at its chic flagship in Beverly Hills while Providence provides foodie formality and the best meal in Los Angeles. For those all about the new, opt for downtown and reserve a table at Neal Fraser's feel-good Fritzi for an everyday gourmet meal priced under $19. But for a fancier fete head up the road and whet your Contemporary appetite at the new Broad Museum before satisfying your other senses next door at Otium, hailed as both a design marvel and what many are considering the best new restaurant to arrive in LA all year.