Tinseltown Dresses Down for Oscars

If you've ever wanted to see the Oscars up close and personal, now's the time, as deals abound.
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It's Oscar time, and who couldn't use a bit of Hollywood fantasy? As Main Street and Wall Street feel the pinch, so too have the Hollywood studios, which have scaled back party plans for this year's Academy Awards on Feb. 22.

There has rarely been a better time for your average US Weekly addict to book a ticket to Tinseltown. The city is awash in travel deals as a flood of new hotels drives down nightly room rates. New eating options have made it easier to book a reservation at exclusive restaurants, and nightclubs have become more welcoming, with door policies that no longer require patrons to buy a $350 bottle of Grey Goose.

There has never been a better time to catch the Oscars in person, as hotels are offering rare deals.


How close do you want to be to the stars? The best option may be the

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

, which hosted the first Academy Awards in 1929. The hotel's northeast-facing rooms overlook the Oscars red carpet, allowing visitors to watch the paparazzi parade. As of press time, rooms were available from $289 per night.

Owner Thompson Hotels, whose properties include 60 Thompson and Gild Hall in New York, revamped the Roosevelt in 2005, making it a chocolate-brown and zebrawood oasis of minimalism. Guests gain exclusive entry to the hotel's posh nightspots, Teddy's and Tropicana Bar, where you can trade in your red-carpet views for a slice of dance floor come midnight.


Fashionistas may have succumbed to the recessionista, but you'd never know it in West Hollywood's Melrose District. The area has displaced Rodeo Drive and Robertson Boulevard as L.A.'s epicenter of high-fashion with new stores from Alexander McQueen, Alberta Ferretti, Helmut Lang and Balenciaga.

You can start at

Opening Ceremony

, the West Coast spin-off of NYC's trendy boutique, which sells Brit couture and Top Shop selections inside an obscure '50s-era office building. Then, head to

Catherine Malandrino Maison Café

, where you can browse the women's fashion boutique before having a spot of tea on the boulevard terrace.

Guys should seek-out nearby


for some hipster couture and stylish gifts that won't break the bank. Still haven't found your Oscar outfit? Sashay down Melrose Place to Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta or one of the three Marc Jacobs stores.


Sam Nazarian, owner of the posh Hyde Lounge nightclub and Katsuya restaurants, recently debuted


on the Sunset Strip. The Philippe Starck-designed restaurant and lounge features the cuisine of chef Michael Mina.Nazarian seems to be the L.A. man of the moment, showing up in the TV show "The Hills" and opening the new SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, which Starck also designed.

XIV, whose name is displayed using topiary trees, features a dark rococo-mirrored bar and a library-themed dining room with Chippendale chairs and a covered patio. Its tasting menu is divided into the categories "light, but satisfying," "a proper meal" and "indulge." The caviar parfait, tuna tartare with chili aioli and saffron-braised veal are not to be missed.


Few magazines are as intertwined with Hollywood history than Vanity Fair, the subject of a photography exhibition at the

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

. "Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008," which ends March 1, showcases the magazine's early 20th-century prints and newer works by Mario Testino, Herb Ritts and Annie Leibovitz.

The show features portraits of high-profile celebrities, such as Julia Roberts, Fred Astaire and Carol Lombard. It also displays rarely seen prints that chronicle the magazine's ascension into pop-cult status, starting during its early years in the 1910s and '20s.


Hollywood's biggest Oscar bash, hosted by Vanity Fair, will be a scaled-down soiree at West Hollywood's

Sunset Tower Hotel

this year. While rooms are still available for upwards of $750 a night, even key-wielding guests will face stringent security to stop gatecrashers. The party will unfold in the hotel's Tower Bar and poolside Terrace Room, which are open to all guests for lunch and dinner the next day.

Still itching to gatecrash? Head to the new

Andaz Hotel

across the street, where you can take in the hip scene at its RH restaurant and lounge into the wee hours of the morning. Andaz is also home to one of L.A.'s sexiest rooftop pools, where you can recreate your own glamorous Oscar photo-op without paying a penny.

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.