Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Eve Roundup

Last week it was a roundup of Christmas dinners around Los Angeles, but this week the news was all about the New Year's Eve celebrations taking place in town. Thank goodness I only cover the restaurant scene, because I can't imagine how large a list of the events at bars, clubs and lounges would have been.

As it was, I've had information pouring in for months now about tomorrow's special night from restaurants both high-brow and low, far and wide, interesting and...not.
I put together this quick hit list of places I'd actually be interested in going, as well as links to some of the other great lists out there. Hopefully readers can find something to enjoy at one of these venues, and if not...well, there's always next year!

Roundup: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_14080999?source=rss

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's Eve at Shangri-La Santa Monica

I still haven't had a chance to stay at the Shangri-La on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, but I'm dying to check out the newly renovated Art Deco gem across from the Santa Monica Pier. If I were around for New Year's, I'd consider heading to the New Year's Eve party there at the rooftop bar, but maybe in January I'll make it in for a meal at the restaurant, The Dining Room.

So far, there are overnight room packages, tickets to the open bar, all kinds of entertainment from three DJs, and even "confetti cannons" that sound kind of dangerous. You can find out more about what's going on there tomorrow night here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/29/124516/29/hotels/Do_New_Year_s_Eve_Seaside_At_Shangri_La_Santa_Monica

Monday, December 28, 2009

$10 Rooms at the Hollywood Heights Hotel

A couple of my friends represent the Hollywood Heights Hotel on Highland, and they wanted to offer readers of a few of my publications a special deal for New Year's. Readers who booked the hotel through LA.com could get a special rate on their New Year's Eve package for $229 including accommodation, entrance to the party at the hotel's bar-restaurant, The Hideout, and the chance to make a room reservation for sometime in 2010 for just $10.

HotelChatter readers simply have to call in to the hotel between January 1-February 15 to book their $10, but only the first 20 to do so will bag the deal.

To find out all the details, take a look at my story here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/28/1657/4957/hotels/Book_the_Hollywood_Heights_Hotel_in_2010_for_Just_10_a_Night

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

EDGE's Winter Weekend in LA

When it comes to the holidays, most people wouldn't think of coming to Los Angeles. After all, there is no chance of a White Christmas here, and Santa wears shades as he rollerblades down the Venice Boardwalk with a background of decorated palm trees.

That doesn't mean there's not plenty to do here though, what with world-class restaurants (see my Christmas dinner roundup on LA.com from yesterday), ice skating rinks galore, and even a lights show at Griffith Park.

I recently wrote up my suggestions for a first-rate beachside holiday for Edge Networks--as the first part in my new California Series that will roll out in January--so take a look for yourself at all there is to do on the Left Coast this season.

Link: http://www.edgeboston.com/index.php?ch=travel&sc=&sc2=features&sc3=&id=100370

Hilton Arc De Triomphe's Snow Bar


I think the Hilton Arc de Triomphe must be one of the best places to stay in Paris. It's a gorgeous old Art Deco wonderland of a building, and it's located right off the Champs Elysees near...well, the Arc de Triomphe. Basically if you have well-off parents or grandparents who like the comforts of an American chain with Old World European sensibilities, this is a fantastic property in the City of Lights.

Sure, it might be a little...stiff, for your average young urban sophisticate--personally I'd rather stay in a hipper, newer place nearer to my old hangouts on the Left Bank--but the hotel is trying to shrug off some of that fustiness with an outdoor winter Snow Bar in its "Andalusian Patio," complete with snow-covered trees, an ice bar, and waitresses kitted out in "fashion-forward" Santa gear.

All in all, it sounds like it would be a fun little trip to start a night out in Paris, but hurry in because it's only going on through the holidays.

To find out more, check out my HotelChatter story here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/23/12342/013/hotels/Snow_Job_Hilton_Arc_de_Triomphe_s_Outdoor_Winter_Bar

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Dinner Roundup on LA.com

It's roundup season again! You might have noticed my recent roundup of Thanksgiving dinners around Los Angeles, and now it's time for Christmas specials at some of my favorite restaurants. Don't get too full though, because the New Year's roundup is just around the corner.

Included in this one: Akasha, Drago Centro, BLT Steak, Patina, Melisse, Philippe, Shutters, and many more. After you take a look, I think you'll come to the same conclusion I did. Why bother cooking when you can just make reservations instead?

Roundup: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_14049828?source=rss

Free Nights (and Cocktails!) in Beverly Hills

I'm not sure why the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau chose to wait until last week to let us know about a big hotel deal going on, but once we heard about it, we made sure to write it up tout de suite.

Eleven of the hotels in Beverly Hills are offering a package where, if you stay two nights, you get a third night free, and many of them are throwing in free holiday-themed cocktails as well. You can get a room for as cheap as $129, or as expensive as a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Your choice. The only thing is, you've got to do it before January 10.

To find out more, and link to the reservations pages of all the participating hotels, take a quick look at my HotelChatter story here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/21/23841/634/hotels/Holidays_Means_Free_Nights_And_Cocktails_In_Beverly_Hills

Monday, December 21, 2009

NYT Reviews Barcelona's Hotel Denit

This was a pretty straightforward piece to write--basically just a recap of The New York Times' recent review of a new hotel in Barcelona called the Hotel Denit. The hotel is located in the heart of Barcelona's historic Barri Gotic, or gothic quarter, and is actually just a block or two away from one of the city's most famous restaurants, Els Quatre Gats, where Picasso used to hang out as a young man. On a trip to Barcelona when I myself was a young man, I actually ate there thanks to a classmate who was even more of a history dork than me and had researched it. I even remember what I ate: squid ink seafood risotto. Not the best meal, but certainly one that made an impression.

All that's to say: the hotel is in a fantastic place, right in the middle of things. You can find its location here. Despite that fact, though, it is still pretty moderate, with rooms going for about $200 a night. I'm not saying I'd be happy to pay that for one of their rooms based on the photos I saw and the review I read, but it might be a good option for those on a semi-strict budget.

To read more about what to expect at the hotel and whether you might like to stay there, you can take a look at my HotelChatter story below.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Opens

Lately it seems like I've been writing a lot about Ritz-Carlton properties around the world--Florida, Israel, um...well, I guess just those two places. Well, my roll continued this week with the opening of a new Ritz resort outside Tucson at a place called Dove Mountain.

The new resort looks pretty much gorgeous, and its room rates are kind of a bargain (well, at least by Ritz standards). The other interesting features are some hippy-dippy spa treatments and a fabulous-sounding scotch bar in the lobby called Ignite. My only question is, when do I get to visit?

For now, I just have to content myself with looking over the specs. To see for yourself, take a look at my write-up below.

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/18/15651/810/hotels/The_Ritz_Carlton_Dove_Mountain_Opens_Today

Review: Philippe Chow

L.A. doesn't exactly have a wealth of awesome Chinese restaurants, though if you venture into the farther outreaches you can find some pretty amazing Asian food. While I wouldn't call Philippe Chow's new restaurant on Melrose your average neighborhood Chinese joint, it's at least nice to have some representation in the mid-city area.

Chow was born in China and raised in Hong Kong. These days he's got restaurants all over the place including New York and Mexico City, but this is his first West Coast venture. The food was delicious, but the prices on the menu were downright eye-popping, even for portions that serve 2-3 people.

To read more about the restaurant and what I ate, take a look at my review below.

Review: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_14023919?source=rss

Friday, December 18, 2009

FACES: Yuji Matsumoto

This month's FACES is not necessarily holiday-centric, but I couldn't really convince my editors to let me interrogate the Beverly Center's Hot Santa. Instead I decided to talk to the only Master Sake Sommelier in the United States, Kabuki Restaurants' Yuji Matsumoto. Sake might just be the most appropriate topic for the holidays though, since there is an old saying that "sake does not fight with food." And at what time of year is there more food than the holidays? So start thinking about what you can pair with a nice junmai daiginjo.

He was kind enough to host me at a tasting at one of Kabuki's locations a few weeks ago, and based on the experience, I had all kinds of questions for him. To see what we talked about, you can take a look at my interview below.

FACES: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_14018420?source=rss

Willy Wonka Weekend at Ritz-Carlton Naples

This definitely has to qualify as one of the wackier posts I've written for HotelChatter. Just the other week, I wrote about the Ritz-Carlton Naples opening a new restaurant, but this week, the story was their annual Willy Wonka Weekend. The weekend is an event that goes on in the afternoons Saturday and Sunday where kids and their parents can come and eat their way through the wonderful confections whipped up by the hotel's staff, including huge meringue mushrooms and oompa loompas (no joke!), a chocolate fondue river, and huge lollipops.

This year features a special opening night premiere where guests can come talk to Roald Dahl's son and daughter-in-law, who will also be on hand to sign copies of the original book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review: Flying Leap Cafe

The night before Thanksgiving, I took my friend Ty to dinner at the Flying Leap Cafe in Silverlake for a review in Frontiers In/LA Magazine. I think it wasn't the wisest decision to eat such a heavy meal of American classics the night before the biggest glutton fest of the year, but my deadline approached and time was short, so I just had to slog through it.

The food, though substantial, was delicious, and we were treated to a tasting meal of specialties both old and new (the restaurant's menu will be changing slightly in January). We also got a good feel for the crowd the restaurant usually draws--a mix of Eastside gays both young and old, as well as neighborhood hanger-outers. All in all, it was a fun little evening, and just the lighthearted, carefree evening I needed before heading home for the holidays (not that going home isn't fun, mom!).

I think I'll end there before my family yells at me for implying anything else about Thanksgiving at the Rosen household. For now, you can read my review below, and be sure to check out my little roundup of my favorite places for a slice of meatloaf in LA at the end!

Review: http://www.frontierspublishing.com/2817/nightlife/nl_eat.html

Suite Stories: Le Parc and Cambria


Nothing too too interesting about these two posts I did this week for HotelChatter. The first is about a pre-New Year's shopping package available from West Hollywood's Le Parc Suites Hotel that offers guests a $50 Amex gift card to the Grove plus a few discounts and specials there. The only thing is, I think you can get a room there for about $150 a night, so I'd rather just pay that than the $229 plus perks and pocket the difference.

The second story is a more interactive post on HotelChatter that we've been trying lately. Basically, there is a chain of hotels called Cambria Suites that was launched a couple years ago by Choice Hotels. We periodically get information from them on specials, hotel openings, etc., but none of us has ever actually stayed in one, so we've asked our readers for their input about what they are like. Hopefully we'll hear back from them soon.

You can find links to both stories below.

Le Parc Suite: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/15/125339/83/hotels/Le_Parc_Suite_for_Le_Last_Minute_Holiday_Getaway
Cambria Suites: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/16/11731/638/hotels/Has_Anyone_Tried_Out_A_Cambria_Suites_Lately_

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weekly Stir Fry: 12-16-09

This week's roundup of dining deals and restaurant specials just went up on LA.com. Included: Breakfast with Santa courtesy of the Patina Group, new happy hours at Takami and Oliverio, and a night of shopping fun on Beverly Boulevard (tonight!!). Basically, lots of great stuff to eat, drink, and do this pre-holiday week.

Link: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_14009499?source=rss

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: Den of Hollywood

A few weeks ago, my friend Samara and her boyfriend Patrick mentioned that a new restaurant-bar called The Den of Hollywood had opened just up the block from us on Sunset. They kept raving about the sweet potato fries, which, though not my favorite, still sounded like they were worth a visit. So I enlisted my friend Hilary, who runs her own foodie site called Nosh With Me, to check it out and see whether it might be worth a review.

I will be honest and say that we weren't super crazy about the food, but it was definitely decent, and the menu was extremely moderately priced for a perch on the Sunset Strip. It will be nice to have a casual, fun, gastropub-y place so close by as an alternative to the more swinging scenes thereabouts. To find out more about the ambiance and the menu, check out the piece I wrote for LA.com below.

Meritage: Berkeley Claremont Hotel's New Restaurant

A few weeks ago, I learned about the opening of the new restaurant at Berkeley's historic Claremont Resort, Club and Spa. It's called Meritage, and has a very unique menu concept. Basically, each page is split into two columns, one for wine choices and one with food items. The menu is then broken down into seven categories of wine from light, fruity whites to robust reds, and you are supposed to order the dishes based on what wine you'd like to drink, or vice versa. It's like wine pairing for dummies.

Not only does the food look delicious, but the wine choices are pretty interesting, and everything seems to be very moderately priced--plus you can get the wines by the taste, glass, carafe or bottle, so it's easy to figure out a way to enjoy a few vinos economically.

Oh, and did I mention the view? It must be one of the best vistas of San Francisco ever, as you'll see from the accompanying photo. Next time I'm up in the Bay Area, I'm definitely stopping by for a glass and a gaze.

Read more about the restaurant and the hotel here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/9/20429/7088/hotels/Berkeley_s_Claremont_Hotel_Gets_a_New_Restaurant_Meritage

Monday, December 14, 2009

New York Times Loves Vancouver's Loden Hotel

Though it was beset by problems and delays before opening, and may no longer be part of the Kor Hotel Group, Vancouver's Loden seems to be doing quite well managing itself, as evidenced by a recent rave in the New York Times.

Reading the Times review, I almost want to fly up to Vancouver just to stay in the hotel myself, and the photos look beautiful. The reviewer called it a mix of Pacific Northwest outdoorsiness and Hollywood Regency. How could that not be awesome?

For more on the hotel and the review, check out my post on HotelChatter here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/14/122141/50/hotels/The_Loden_No_Longer_a_Kor_Hotel_But_Still_Loved_By_the_NYT

Photo Credit: Bonny Makarewicz for The New York Times

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Name That Vineyard" Contest at Westlake Village Inn

I'm always looking for interesting hotel deals, packages and contests, and this one from the Westlake Village Inn is one of the most distinctive I've come across. The restaurant at the resort, Mediterraneo, has just planted a new little vineyard in one corner of the property, and they are holding a contest to name it. The winner gets a free stay at the resort plus a few other perks.

Personally, I'm looking forward to trying out chef Alberto Vazquez's menu at Mediterraneo when I have a chunk of time to make it all the way out to Westlake Village, but in the meantime, it might be pretty fun to participate.

For details and to find out more about the resort, you can read my story on HotelChatter here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/11/125015/74/hotels/Calling_All_Oenophiles_The_Westlake_Village_Inn_Wants_You_to_Name_Their_Vineyard

Friday, December 11, 2009

Review: Oaks Gourmet Market

In addition to gastropubs, the other kind of eating outlet that seems to be popping up everywhere these days in LA is the gourmet grocery shop/panini counter/salad bar/wine store/etc.

Last week, I covered Froma, which admittedly has been around for a few years now. This week, it was off to the Oaks Gourmet Market at the corner of Franklin and Bronson, right near the UCB Theater and Birds.

I immediately fell in love with the great wine selection and the fantastic beers they stock, like Allagash's entire line. The sandwiches were pretty good, too, especially the lobster club. In addition to prepared foods like salads and soups, the market also contracts with local artisanal producers like bakeries, pasta-makers, breweries and others to sell their wares in the store, so you can find LA icons like Cake Monkey and Delilah's in the baked goods section, or Heirloom-LA pastas on the shelves. Basically, it's a gourmet's one-stop-shop. To read more about what I found there, read my piece on LA.com.

Review: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13970865?source=rss

Review: Stout Burgers and Beer

You would think LA had enough gastropubs by this time, but another one has gone and opened at the corner of Cahuenga and Selma in Hollywood, not too far from one of the other new gastropubs--especially popular for grabbing a beer before or after screenings at the ArcLight--Boho.

This one is called Stout Burgers and Beer, and places a special emphasis on pairing its list of 30+ beers with the 9 different burgers on the menu. You'll find the usual sides like onion rings and French fries, as well as veggie, chicken and beef burgers with a dizzying display of toppings. The portions could be bigger for the prices, but overall, the experience is quite fun and laidback, with excellent people-watching and waitresses as friendly as you'll find in this part of town. The other added bonus is the cool interior design. But I don't want to give away everything here. To read about it and see some more pictures, take a look at my piece on LA.com

Review: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13969434?source=rss

Thursday, December 10, 2009

An Eco Spa at 4,921 Feet: Vigilius Resort in Sudtirol


This week, I learned about an isolated little wellness resort way up in the Sudtirolean Alps of northern Italy, about halfway between Innsbruck and Venice. The place is called Vigilius Mountain Resort, and is a member of the Design Hotels family.

Located in the hilltop town Vigiljoch in the Dolomites, Vigilius actually used to be a ramshackle old hotel originally built in 1912, but was redesigned by an architect from Milan named Matteo Thun. Now it's all larch wood beams, huge glass windows, concrete walls and floors, and modern Swiss simplicity.

The spa there takes advantage of famous local springwater, as well as traditional herbs and agricultural products found in the area for its signature treatments. In fact, the restaurants at the resort also take advantage of those same elements in their menus too!

It looks like an absolutely glorious place to visit--pristine mountain air, glorious vistas, gourmet food, pampering treatments. Now if I can just figure out an excuse to get to Italy...

To read more about Vigilius's high-altitude hospitality, you can read my HotelChatter story: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/9/0479/21054/hotels/Vigilius_Mountain_Resort_An_Eco_Spa_at_4_921_FeetMountain_Resort_An_Eco_Spa_at_4_921_FeetMountain_Resort_An_Eco_Spa_at_4_921_Feet

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fremantle and the Highway To Hell Tour

One of the more...eccentric activities on my recent trip to Western Australia was a tram tour we took in the port city of Fremantle, about 20 minutes southwest of Perth itself.

Fremantle is sort of like a suburb of Perth, but it is just far enough away to be its own entity. Its 19th century streets are lined with old facades that were restored in teh past two decades. It looks kind of like a frontier town, or what I imagine streets in San Francisco must have looked like before the 1906 earthquake. In Australia, they call it "gold rush architecture." Basically, it looks like there were lots of saloons, bars and cheap hotels, but now it's all very charming.

These days, the buildings house cute little boutiques, galleries, microbreweries and Fremantle's famous "Cappuccino Strip" of coffee houses, including one where I had a long white (or latte in American parlance), Gino's. The town is also home to the Sail and Anchor Pub, the oldest continuously operated bar in Western Australia, founded in 1898. The other famous sight in town is the notorious Freemantle Prison, which was built by the Aboriginal convicts it eventually housed, and which still stirs up bad feelings (and ghosts!).

The real reason we had come to Fremantle though, apart from enjoying the pub grub and brews at Little Creatures, was to take the "Highway To Hell" Tram Tour of sights connected with ACDC frontman, Bon Scott, courtesy of Fremantle Tram Tours.

As you see from the picture above, the tour starts with the life-sized statue of Bon Scott--he was 5 foot 3, and, let's just say disproportionately endowed. Tee hee. Then we took a whirlwind tour that included his old high school, a glow-in-the-dark portrait of him painted under one of Fremantle's bridges, Fremantle Prison where he was incarcerated for two days, and finally, the grave to which he went at the young age of 33 after an overdose. All the while we were chauffered around town in a huge red tram, with commentary underscored by ACDC's greatest hits.

The tour normally only operates on Sundays, so if you're planning a visit, be sure to time it right. Before you say, "oh, I'm not really an ACDC fan, so who cares?" I will just say that, until I took the tour myself, I had no idea how many ACDC songs I knew by heart, nor what a big fan of the band I actually was. Plus, it sure as hell beats your average tram sightseeing tour. In case you doubt me, take a look at the video below and judge for yourself.


video

Weekly Stir Fry: 12-08-09

This week's roundup of dining deals and restaurant specials around Los Angeles. Included: the new Taco Bar Brunch at FIG at the Fairmont Santa Monica, cooking classes at both Eva and Zeke's Smokehouse, a jamon and sherry night at Bar Pintxo and the announcement of the opening of a new Tender Greens in Hollywood. A lot of fun stuff going on!

Details here: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13961183?source=rss

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review: Froma

Froma may be short for "fromagerie," but this little store on Melrose is so much more than a dairy. It sells fine European foodstuffs and wines, including those of Olivier Pithon and his brother Jo, as well as an array of cheeses, charcuterie, and a dine-in menu of soups, salads, panini and other little goodies.

I had lunch there, enjoying four different kinds of bruschette and a panini with bresaola, arugula, lemon juice and chevre. It was all delicious. I can just imagine spending a whole day at the counter here, starting with an espresso and some banana bread in the morning, continuing with a panini or salad in the afternoon, and enjoying a glass of wine in the evening.

For more on what there is to see and eat at Froma, take a look at my LA.com review: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13945115?source=rss

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hotel Bel-Air Garage Sale!

This story was a pretty funny little nugget that got reported in the L.A. Times last week. The Hotel Bel-Air closed in October to start a two-year massive renovation, and rather than just dump all the old decor and fittings, the hotel decided to hold a liquidation sale of all its furnishings. It sounded like there were some pretty good deals on things like beds and TV's, but it also sounded like there was a bunch of junk to sort through.

I'm surprised at how many people seemed to know about it and were lining up to get in early. Goes to show, you never know what hotel news is going to break big...

Take a look at my HotelChatter post about it here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/7/123749/731/hotels/Everything_Must_Go_Hotel_Bel_Air_Selling_Off_Its_Old_Furniture

Review: Hudson House in Redondo Beach

The weekend after Thanksgiving while I was staying down in Torrance at the new Miyako Hybrid Hotel, I decided to stop by the Hudson House Bar in Redondo Beach nearby. I'd been meaning to get down there for a few months since the little gastropub from the husband-wife team behind Beechwood in Venice opened last spring.

Now, I don't know about you, but I usually expect to see rowdy fratboys and carousing coeds at the bars in that neck of town, but Hudson House is much more of a neighborhood place with some excellent artisanal beers on tap and by the bottle, plus more than a few organic and sustainable wines on the list.

There is also a small food menu with fresh, gourmet (but not snooty) twists on your average bar food items. I had the burger, which came very highly recommended, as well as a side of fried cauliflower (delish) and an avocado salad. Sure, the meal was heavy, but it tasted great as I washed it down with samples of a few different beers. Next time, I'm definitely getting the ice cream cookie sandwich for dessert with Boddington's ice cream.

To read more about Hudson House, take a look at my LA.com review:
http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13945068?source=rss

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Larkspur Hotels Give Away $500 Gift Cards

So many hotel packages and promotions these days revolve around hotel or resort "credits." Sure, you pay $200 for your room, but hey, you get $100 in hotel credits. Whoopedy doo. Sometimes you just want to eat out, or go to another spa, or spend your money elsewhere, but you end up sticking around your hotel wasting time in order to spend as close to the credit as possible.

Though not every guest at Larkspur Hotels will get one of the special prizes, the chain is offering guests who book between now and January 4 the chance to win one of eight $500 American Express gift cards, as well as other little prizes like discounts at the hotel restaurants and bars. Only eight people can win, but at least the prize is actual money that you can spend anywhere Amex is accepted. Who knows, if you book your stay, you just might win the money to make all your holiday purchases?

For more details on my HotelChatter story, check here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Sneak Peek at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Downtown

This Monday, I arranged to take a hard-hat tour of the construction at the new J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton downtown at the L.A. Live arts and entertainment complex right near the Staples Center that's set to open in February. The soaring glass tower that houses the two hotels is the first new skyscraper to be built in downtown Los Angeles in nearly 20 years, and is meant to be one of the anchors of the burgeoning arts, dining and entertainment scene that is starting to regenerate in the area.

Though the two hotel chains are owned by the same company and do share property footprints in other locations, this venture is the first of its kind for Marriott and Ritz where both hotels are housed in the same building. In addition to the 878 Marriott and 123 Ritz guest rooms, there will also be over 200 private Ritz residences on the top floors (starting at nearly $1.5 million for a one-bedroom). There will also be seven restaurants and bars, two pools, a spa, and 77,000 square feet of meeting spaces.

Whew! That's a lot to digest, but take a look at my exclusive HotelChatter story for all the fun details, including just how hideous the neon orange vest they made me wear for safety was...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Frontiers Review of The Hudson

Unfortunately in the print edition of this review, the byline is credited to my former editor, Brian Padgett. However, this review and the accompanying guide to Los Angeles's best onion rings is all mine. Hopefully they will fix it on this link this week.

In any case, take a look at it, because the restaurant is the new one where the Boulevard used to be, just a couple blocks from me in the former West Hollywood train station on Crescent Heights. Yes, that's correct, WeHo used to have its very own train station before the car and tire lobbies doomed mass transit in the city forever. Ah, bygone times! At least you can enjoy some classic cocktails in the bungalow atmosphere. Find out more about the gastropub grub in my Frontiers review.

Review: http://www.frontierspublishing.com/2816/nightlife/nl_eat.html

Holiday Hotel Decorations: Coeur D'Alene

This was a fun little story to do: the world's tallest living Christmas tree is in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, at the Coeur D'Alene Resort. The tree is 161 feet tall--making it twice the size of the one at Rockefeller Center. Not only is it lit up with with 30,000 LED lights and 10-foot tall ornaments, but the surrounding display has over 1.5 million twinkling lights. It must be quite a show.

To get into the holiday spirit, and find out more dorky Christmas factoids, check out my story here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/2/123838/965/hotels/The_Coeur_D_Alene_Resort_s_Journey_to_The_North_Pole_Features_a_Massive_Christmas_Tree

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Weekly Stir Fry: 12-2-09

This week's roundup of dining deals and restaurant specials around Los Angeles on LA.com. On tap? Au Bon Climat and Angelica Cellars wine dinners at Palate Food + Wine and Grace respectively, a cigar dinner at Cache, Prohibition Repeal Day cocktails at Comme Ca, late-night happy hour at Agura, and the Sunday brunch circus at XIV. All good things!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Inside the Miyako Hybrid Hotel

Since I started writing regularly for HotelChatter, I have made a walk-through video of every hotel room I've stayed in (and several that I haven't been staying in myself), to post on the site. This past weekend, I was invited to spend a night at the new Miyako Hybrid Hotel in Torrance (yes, Torrance, but hey, it's headquarters to a lot of big companies, so it's a good location for business travel). Personally, I think the claims of being eco-friendly and environmentally conscious enough to be labeled "hybrid" are a little far-fetched seeing as the solar paneling on the roof only provides 5-10% of the hotel's energy needs, and all the new hotels feature key-holders next to the door so that when you leave, the lights and air shut off to conserve energy, so it's nothing special. But at least they're making an effort here. Plus, it was just plain fun to spend a night in a hotel. Room rates will start at $159, so take a look at my room and all its features and see what you think.

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/12/1/124833/902/hotels/Inside_the_Miyako_Hybrid_Hotel

Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe, Part Deux

You might have noticed my piece on HotelChatter last week about the new component of Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at the London Hotel, Boxwood Cafe. I also wrote it up for LA.com last week, and though I cover the same material, I hope the two pieces come out pretty different. I'll echo my thought, though, that launching a more casual, intimate dining space at the front of the otherwise stodgy (and usually pretty empty) restaurant was a good move, and will hopefully make the hotel more of a lunch and dinner destination. Only time will tell though...

Review: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13893378?source=rss