The London West Hollywood couldn't be in a hotter location -- it rises out of the Sunset Strip from a quiet residential neighborhood, and is within walking distance to the rock clubs and fancy boutiques of Sunset Plaza.
Its architectural façade is a relic of the early '80s, known as the Bel Age Hotel, before landing a fancy new paint job and brand new striped awnings that give it that Hollywood Regency-vibe.
Today it's the new home of one of the city's sexiest rooftop pools, and the only West Coast outpost of two-star Michelin chef Gordon Ramsay (of "Hell's Kitchen" fame).
What to Expect
Guests arrive via a manicured, private alleyway located directly behind the Viper Room (formerly owned by Johnny Depp) and a trinket shop known as Ahh's that sells cardboard cutouts of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
The hotel boasts views of downtown and Century City skyline as well as the Hollywood Hills. There's a reason why celebrities such as Leonardo Di Caprio and Winona Ryder live just a few blocks away.
The First Impression
A dapper valet staff in bolero hats and dark fitted vests line the glassy front entrance leading to the main lobby.
David Collins, designer of London's Blue Bar at Claridge's and The London NYC, created an interior lobby that blends L.A.'s history of deco with freshly polished stone floors, and glossy-white wood paneling, for an element of sexy Tinseltown glamour.
Gone is any memory of the former Bel Age Hotel, fully exorcised through sleek lounge areas and a formal reception accented by dangling lantern chandeliers and the buzz of beautiful people on weekend romps.
Finding Your Room
As you can tell from its enormous façade, the hotel is big. Originally built as an all-suite hotel, the 225 guest rooms include a series of large -- and even larger -- suites. Views of the Hollywood Hills on higher floors offer ocean and downtown panoramas.
Noise can be an issue on lower, West-facing floors, as the windows of the building were not upgraded during renovation.
Iconic guest rooms feature freestanding headboards and beds tucked with imported Italian cotton sheets. Well-designed seating areas feature six-person sectionals or plushy upholstered sofas opposite flat-screen TVs and built-in mini bars with refrigerators and fine crystal stemware. Bathrooms are dripping in Waterworks with deep soaking tubs and rain showers fit for a spa.
The London West Hollywood is built for bizness. In-room work areas include well-organized desks with multi-line speakerphones and complimentary high-speed Internet access or Wifi.
docking station is readily available for personal DJ mixing following weekend afternoons at the pool.
Perhaps its most unique amenity -- the property offers complimentary calls to London for all those last-minute deals in a select number of guest rooms (request in advance).
Guests also have access to Quintessentially, the in-house concierge service, specializing in booking the impossible restaurant or nightlife reservation.
Hit the Pool
The new rooftop pool is located on the 10th floor. Large King palms, brought in with cranes, shade what is one of the most idyllic pool views in the entire city.
Unobstructed panoramas of downtown, Century City and Hollywood Hills skyline distract from the flirtatious tension of well-sculpted bodies getting their weekend tan. The long, rectangular pool is lined by several cabanas and elevated lounge areas of sunbeds and chaise loungers.
A separate firepit at the corner of the deck has yet to be lit, but expect a seductive nightlife scene once the blaze gets going.
A Gordon Ramsay Eatery
You'll also find the West Coast's first outpost of Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay, who was made famous by "Hell's Kitchen."
The restaurant is located at the back of the lobby, and guests are seated in a front dining room or rear parlor with views of the flickering L.A. skyline.
A rafter ceiling frames a stylized dining room of custom banquettes and semi-circular booths that give the restaurant a living room vibe. Several private dining rooms line the interior space, although the too-high lighting makes them appear more like conference rooms at a local Courtyard by
than the VIP salons intended.
A Brit-themed menu attempts an L.A. spin, with items like pig's head, veal with sweetbreads and anemic portions of swordfish carpaccio that would lead even a skinny starlet to beg for more.
By day, the area is a great base for exploring the trendy boutiques of Sunset Plaza, nearby Melrose Place and Beverly Hills. With gay bars to the south and brash rock clubs to the north, you're also in nightlife heaven, as long as you choose your direction carefully.
Taxis are readily available throughout the day and night to make hasty getaways to nightlife hotspots in Hollywood or restaurants in Beverly Hills.
The Bottom Line
Room rates start at $299 a night, with higher rates on weekends and holidays. The location is a great mix of youthful luxury that, despite a few kinks, is one of the best new hotels to hit L.A. in recent years.
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.