Roll Like a Nominee in Award-Season L.A.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. ( MainStreet) -- The weeks leading up to the 2012 Academy Awards on Feb. 26 is known as Award Season in Los Angeles, a time of A-list celebrity spotting and openings across the city intended to lure the cream of Hollywood society.

From Beverly Hills to Hollywood, several of the city's top hotels will be besieged by paparazzi seeking their celebrity guests, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and Four Seasons Beverly Hills. Those with even more clout check in to Chateau Marmont, owned by Andre Balazs, which maintains a guest list of stars such as Jon Hamm to Kirsten Dunst who prefer its retro-chic interiors, spectacular penthouse suite and uber-exclusive, guests-only outdoor dining room.
Stay at the Chateau Marmont and you're rubbing shoulders with stars such as Jon Hamm to Kirsten Dunst amid retro-chic interiors, a spectacular penthouse suite and an uber-exclusive, guests-only outdoor dining room.

Across town, on the edge of Hollywood, is a hotel address that will likely be one of the "it" destinations of the season. Called Palihotel Melrose, the property is the creation of Avi Brosh, the creator of West Hollywood's perennially cool Palihouse Hotel -- a favorite haunt of such celebs as Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Having weathered a local real estate slump, Brosh is enjoying what many consider the coolest hotel debut since the Standard Hollywood.

This stylish boutique hotel -- in a space that was once an indie Hollywood youth hostel -- is geared toward the "modern urban explorer." The remodel is unique and fashionable, mixing British eclecticism with a tinge of steampunk attitude, and introduces a cafe-style coffee shop and eatery called Palikitchen. Rooms are compact, as is the price (from $150 per night), but are creative and stocked with neighborhood design finds and there are upper-level rooms overlooking the Hollywood Hills. The hotel is walking distance to the shopping of Melrose as well as a nearby weekend flea market that's considered one of the best in LA.

By day the city is awash in lunches staged by publicists looking to get clients a bit of Oscar press (whether they warrant the attention or not). High-wattage lunch spots such as The Ivy are part of the tabloid assembly line, with perfectly dressed actresses lingering at the valet before indulging in lunches where they forgo the favored crab cakes or spectacular swordfish tacos in lieu of undressed salads. A lesser glare can be had a nearby spots such a Cecconi's with its perfect bar and an evolving menu that is only getting tastier, or the even more casual Joan's on Third, a gourmet deli and bakery that hosts a more relaxed kind of power lunch.

On the opposite end of the dining spectrum is Sushi Park, which sits on the upper level of a drab strip center down the Sunset Strip -- a simple, one-room sushi eatery that caters to an elite clientele delighting in a prix-fixe only menu and makes it clear that if you're looking for a California or spider roll you should kindly leave immediately. An hour-plus presenting of omakase sushi parings comes from a chef and staff that could just as easily be at one of Tokyo's' casual three-star Michelin sushi spots, with efficient service and a lofty price tag to match.

By night, a dressier city makes a showing at dinner spots such as The Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel, owned by Jeff Klein and home to the Vanity Fair Party on Oscar night for the past two years. The regally wood-paneled dining room is guarded by Dmitri, a maitre'd who knows virtually every studio exec by first name and isn't shy about booting out anyone daring to snap a photo of dining celebs. Meals include standout dishes such as a Lobster Cobb, signature burger and steak frites.

While Oscar celebrities are chauffeured to private parties and sponsored events surrounding the actual award ceremony, others might try the new outpost of Bagatelle Los Angeles, which offers a South-of-France-infused VIP supper club that looks to plant a brunch-to-2 a.m. champagne kiss on West Hollywood. Just down the street is Greystone Manor, Sam Nazarian's latest nightclub, a spot that will sizzle through spring as the rest of Hollywood awaits nightclub offerings by industry vets such as Harry Morton -- set to debut a Pink Taco and signature lounge in the former Roxbury space -- and Brent Bolthouse, who is due to follow up his Trousdale on the Sunset Strip.

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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 InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.

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