Inside LA

Discover West Hollywood, the flamboyant neighbourhood where the locals go to dip, sip and sweat.

It’s the storied history of the Sunset Strip that provides the narrative to this part of the city. Once just a dirt track from the sea to Beverly Hills, this 2.4-kilometre slice of road is full of tales of gambling, speakeasies, and clubs that attracted, and still attract, the rich and famous. Whisky A Go Go, the Comedy Store, the Viper Room… the names live as large as their reputations do, but this unique part of LA is where gay nightclubs and legal marijuana stores rub shoulders with chic designer fashion stores. Here you can get a taste of it all.

 

SWEAT IT OUT

Wellness fads are born and bred in Los Angeles, so when Shape House opened in 2012 there was no shortage of clients. The singular goal here is to sweat — the art being that no activity is required to do so.

On check-in, change into a cotton tracksuit, grab a bottle of water and settle in for a 55-minute challenge to stay wrapped up in the infrared beds and sweat. The first 40 minutes are pleasant enough, watching Netflix while warming up, but as time ticks by, it really starts to heat up. Your heart rate rises, sweat starts pouring and as the final minutes tick away, it’s only the promise of 36 hours of increased metabolism, detoxification and weight loss that gets many to the finish line.

If you prefer to sweat the old-fashioned way, check into SoulCycle. Part spin class, part therapy session, part nightclub, it has a devoted following who race to sign up for classes as soon as the schedules are released. The rooms are stacked with stationary bikes, lights are dimmed and the music pumps. Instructors shout positive affirmations along with directions for the dancelike moves you’re expected to perform throughout the workout. You’re guaranteed to leave tired, satisfied and with at least one new friend, as community here is just as important as the workout.

 

RECHARGE

If all of that sounds too much like hard work or you’re short on time, do as the locals do and head to Rehab Wellness.

This clinic will get you feeling fab when you’ve overdone it the night before. The list of ills they can cure is long (and includes hangovers), and they offer everything from vitamin B shots to full infusions. Pick the Red Carpet Ready facial, which features ingredients including glutathione, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D3 and B complex.

 

LET'S DO BRUNCH

All this healthy living will leave you with plenty of energy to enjoy the other side of West Hollywood, and weekend brunch is the perfect way to start.

First pick for most locals is Gracias Madre, with an outdoor terrace where you can dine in dappled sunlight. The menu is vegan Mexican, but don’t shy away from the cocktail list at this time of day — it includes an ‘on the wagon’ section of virgin cocktails to choose from.

For a more sinful brunch, Pearl’s Rooftop on Sunset Boulevard gives a bird’s eye view of the famous strip while offering unlimited mimosas and an American cuisine brunch menu to keep you going. Dine on heart-starters such as lobster, mac and cheese or a pretzel croissant sandwich. It’s decadent, delicious and sets you up perfectly for the day ahead.

 

TAKE A DIP

Once you’ve picked your chill, join the throngs for the other popular West Hollywood pastime — visiting rooftop swimming pools. Almost every hotel in the area has a pool. For an eclectic, creative vibe, check out Petit Ermitage. This hotel is tucked in behind the bustling streets and offers an elegant escape from the heat of the city. Here, it’s over 18s-only, and a sign asks visitors to not take photos. With 360-degree views of the Hollywood Hills, champagne table service and a saltwater pool, you can wash away your worries.

The most famous place for a dip is at the Mondrian Hotel. Billed as an outdoor living room, the space is scattered with blooming vines, well-placed cabanas, and round sofas ideal for soaking up the sun and the wide views of the city. Treat yourself to breakfast beforehand at the hotel’s restaurant, Ivory on Sunset, before joining the beautiful people poolside with champagne in hand.

The newest kid on the pool block is Kimpton La Peer Hotel. Opened at the start of this year, it aims to be part of the local community as well as an elegant boutique hotel offering resort-like exclusion from the busy streets outside. The pool here is located on the ground level, skirted by fire pits and olive trees and set among lush gardens. A relaxed luxury is embraced, a sense of design that was created by Icelandic-born designer Gulla Jonsdottir. It’s quirky, kinda Scandi, but definitely unique to the hotel scene in the area — and a refreshing dip is the perfect way to finish your WeHo adventure.

Words by Kirsten Rowlingson

 

GETTING THERE

Book holiday packages and flights to LA through our website or by calling 13 67 89 (in Australia) and make West Hollywood your next holiday destination.

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