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Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacay, a visit to Tinsel Town lets travelers slip into the celebrity scene, if only for a few glittering moments. TPG Contributor Kelsy Chauvin recently performed some extra-strenuous research to find out where the stars dine, drink, lodge and lounge in West Hollywood. Here are some of her best tips for following in the footsteps of the rich and glamorous — and how you can earn rewards along the way. For more, follow along with Kelsy’s travels on Instagram and Twitter.
Between the sunshine, spotlights and flashbulbs, it’s hard to escape the bright lights of West Hollywood (WeHo). The city-within-a-city has its own mayor and is a distinct municipality from Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and “regular” Hollywood — where the Walk of Fame and various costumed characters attract throngs of tourists, but few celebrities (barring big movie premieres).
True, WeHo is where regular people live and play, and it’s L.A.’s main LGBT stomping grounds. It’s also a chic enclave where even the most famous actors, directors, musicians and their entourages escape ritzy zip codes to dress down and sip California-style bevs like Divine Spice Chai Boba (or even an occasional plain tea) in peace. Here are five ways you can indulge in the lavish lifestyle of the stars, for at least a little while.
1. Stay at a Super-Luxe Hotel — For Less
In the relatively compact city of West Hollywood — which encompasses Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards, Melrose Avenue and other famed arterials — you can take your pick of posh hotels where luminaries relax in private and travelers like us can soak up the perks and points.
A top rewards-earning option is the Andaz West Hollywood, a Hyatt hotel where Gold Passport points let you take full advantage of elite-status room upgrades, free nights, meals and other treats like spa treatments. From its prime spot on Sunset Boulevard, the rooftop pool is the hotel’s standout feature. Overlooking the sprawling city of angels, head to the Sundeck for Saturday evening DJ sessions and monthly yoga sessions with a view. Rates start at about $369 or 20,000 Gold Passport points per night in September.
Just across the Sunset Strip is the Mondrian Los Angeles, a hotel nearly as famous as the celebrities it hosts. As one of the most elite properties of the Morgans Hotel Group, frequent guests (who stay at least 25 nights within two years) and celebrity “influencers” (think fashionistas, producers, etc.) are awarded a Global Card. Perks abound for those who possess this uber-special card, like welcome gifts, dining and bar discounts and early check-in or late check-out, among others. But ordinary travelers can still score a great deal by using credit cards like the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier Card, which earn you three times the points on hotels. Rates start at about $296 per night for a studio suite in September.
WeHo tourists will be glad to know that both the Mondrian and the Andaz are Visa Signature Hotels. That means booking with a Visa Signature card guarantees the best room rate and upgrade, VIP guest status and complimentary breakfast, among other benefits. Plus there’s the intangible prestige of hanging out at places like the Mondrian’s happening poolside SkyBar, where you could cross paths with anyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to John Mayer to Mindy Kaling.
2. Dine the Celebrity Way
There are so many petite waistlines in this town, sometimes it’s hard to imagine that people ever eat here. But the temptations abound and range from calorie-saving, healthy options to some of the country’s top steakhouses. For hearty indulgence, Craig’s is high on the celebrity to-do list. Head here for prime cuts, fresh seafood and perfect pasta — just play it cool when passing by the paparazzi on your way in. They’re usually hanging around out front to see if repeat customers like Adele, Jennifer Lawrence, Harry Styles, Sidney Poitier or Don Rickles (a Craig’s regular) stop by.
Right across Melrose Avenue is the “plant-based” Gracias Madre — a very different, but equally delicious dining option. Beyoncé, Goldie Hawn, Amanda Seyfried and other stars head here for truly amazing vegetarian dishes served all day in the airy main room or on its colorful, breezy patio.
At these and other fabulous WeHo restaurants, you’d be wise to pay with a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which lets you earn 2x points on travel and dining worldwide.
3. Wander WeHo’s Design District
It’s impossible to count all the ways that West Hollywood can tempt both celebrities and travelers to give their credit cards a workout. Of course, the Sunset Strip is a magnet for those seeking top shops like Nicole Miller, BCBG, Armani A/X and other big-name stores that regularly attract the likes of Halle Berry, Eva Longoria, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.
The shopping scene on Melrose Avenue rivals that of the Strip and owes some of its prestige to the bold, gleaming, primary colors of the Pacific Design Center at the corner of San Vicente Blvd., home to designer showrooms that lead the world in interior-decor stylings. Hundreds of eye-catching, star-spotting boutiques, galleries, furniture shops and salons line Melrose and its cross streets as well. Trends in fashion and luxury services tend to start here, so plan to rack up those rewards while shopping at the outposts of Christian Louboutin, Stella McCartney, Ballenciaga, Rag & Bone, as well as local faves like Maxfield and Dash.
When you’re ready for a break, settle in for a cup of organic tea at Urth Caffé at the corner of Westmount Drive, a spot that may be familiar as one of the regular stops for the Entourage boys.
4. Make Your Own Splash
No trip to California is complete without a little pool action. Hotel pools at the Andaz, The London West Hollywood and the Mondrian Los Angeles are always open to hotel guests, though anyone can visit the latter’s SkyBar for cocktails overlooking the pool. But some, like Starwood’s W Hollywood and The Standard, Hollywood — which some may remember as the hotel where the Sex and the City ladies once stayed — offer day passes for non-guests (check with each hotel for the latest prices).
You might also want to consider a spa treatment at the Sunset Marquis Hotel, where you can buy a dose of relaxation that includes a day pass to the hotel pool. There, you can bask in the same poolside spot as rockers ranging from Joan Jett to Courtney Love to the Jonas Brothers — just don’t try leaping from a suite into the pool like the Red Hot Chili Peppers did.
5. Sip Your Way to Stardom
Once you’re primped and polished and ready for cocktail hour(s), settle on the right luminary-laden bar in which to splurge. Thirsty for a true classic? Consider the Sunset Tower Hotel’s cozy Tower Bar, where you can sip from one of WeHo’s best drink menus, and maybe even try a refreshing Dmitri, the cocktail named for its renowned maitre d’ to the stars, Dmitri Dimitrov. Few bars will make travelers feel as glitzy as the Sunset Tower’s, having hosted big names like Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez, James Franco and Renee Zellweger — it was also the engagement soirée spot of Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux.
Nightclubs that line Sunset Boulevard beckon those hankering for live shows. The Comedy Store is a Strip staple, where comedians Jim Carrey, Chris Rock and Chelsea Handler have all grabbed the mic to hone their acts. Music lovers may prefer to catch rockers at the Troubadour, or diverse acts taking the stage nightly at the Viper Room, Roxy or Whisky a Go Go, all located nearby.
Cecconi’s, on the corner of Melrose and Robertson, is one of the hottest restaurants in West Hollywood, but you’ll luck out and skip the table-reservation game if you can nab a bar spot to wet your whistle. You’ll know you’re in good company if diners like George Lucas, Gwen Stefani, Drake, Ellen DeGeneres or Vera Wang pass by as you sip a fine California wine from your fine leather perch — good thing those bar seats swivel!
Have you partied like a rock star in West Hollywood? What other things do you like to do there? Let us know, below.
Featured image of Sunset Boulevard at night courtesy of Visit West Hollywood.
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