California Dreaming: Los Angeles
For some, lively urban delights can be a welcome departure from the post-wedding penchant for over-relaxing. The City of Angels never fails to impress with its trendsetting locales and larger-than-life personality. Many of Los Angeles’ most enchanting pockets surface in West Hollywood (visitwesthollywood.com), the epicenter of the city’s latest food and cocktail happenings, where the social scene is bar none and celebrity sightings are a dime a dozen. Have a libation at the famed Chateau Marmont (chateaumarmont.com), making sure to leave early enough to snag a table at the hottest spot in town, the New England–inspired, upscale seafood shack Connie & Ted’s (connieandteds.com), helmed by L.A.’s current “It” chef, Michael Cimarusti.
Nestled in one of West Hollywood’s most picturesque hillsides, the all-suite, David Collins–designed The London West Hollywood (thelondonwesthollywood.com) reigns, capped by a seductive rooftop swimming pool. Expansive en-suite terraces come standard at The London, and spacious bathrooms boast giant soaking tubs and double-headed waterfall showers. Collins delivers a bold design statement by employing a rich, neutral color palette. The suede-walled hallways lead to airy, wood-draped suites with furnishings unilaterally positioned toward glittering views of the Hollywood Hills.
For a quiet respite, take a less-than-30-minute drive to Santa Monica for a day at the beach. Blessed with an average of 340 days of sunshine a year and 3.5 miles of shoreline, palm-laced Santa Monica exudes pure California, as surfers hang ten by day and culture vultures peruse the 90-plus art galleries peppering the boutique-lined streets by night.
Santa Monica’s restaurants embrace the West Coast’s farm-to-table and ocean-to-table devotion, reflected in the remarkable flavors at local restaurants. Start the day with the lemon ricotta pancakes and fresh berries at celeb hangout Coast, the beachfront restaurant at famed resort Shutters on the Beach (shuttersonthebeach.com). Later, take a beach break at Water Grill (watergrill.com) to sample 15 of the freshest oysters from both coasts and impressive raw shellfish platters. Main courses at Water Grill are pure foodie fantasia—like wild Ecuadorian mahi mahi pan-seared in brown butter alongside hearts of palm, soy and raisins and wild Chilean sea bass on a bed of cauliflower puree, accented by crispy cauliflower and lemon chutney.
At Fig (figsantamonica.com), Chef Ray Garcia procures 90 percent of his ingredients from the locally driven Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. His bistro- inspired “ingredients-first” gastronomy puts a twist on New American cuisine, shunning sauce-heavy dishes and lengthy recipes in favor of delectable simplicity. Located on the lower level of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows (fairmont.com/santa-monica), Fig is appropriately named after the glorious, century-old fig tree that branches over the hotel’s grand entrance. The tree was a mere sapling when the property was originally erected as a family mansion circa 1889.
Today that mansion, now called the Palisades wing, has been augmented by a 10-story Ocean Tower and 32 bungalows to create one of Santa Monica’s most lauded hotels. The 302 guestrooms at the Fairmont include three new Miramar Ocean View Suites designed by famed interior designer Lynda Murray. With loft-inspired foundations of glass, steel and hardwoods, Murray’s suites exude fresh California cool with emerald green wet bars, retro-cool tufted loungers, velvet headboards, reclaimed wood furnishings and eclectic light fixtures. For a breathtaking panoramic view from Malibu to Catalina Island, check into a penthouse level unit in the Ocean Tower.