The city of Los Angeles, it seems, is in constant metamorphosis. Star chefs come and go, A-list movie actors are either beatified or fall from grace, and the hotel scene is a decidedly moving target. I hadn’t visited L.A. since before Covid when my daughter and I went down from the Bay Area on a weekend shopping trip, and I was curious to see how one of my favorite hotels, the W Los Angeles on the Westside, was holding up.
A mid-size hotel with extremely personalized service, the W impressed on every level, from a smooth, expedited check-in process to recommendations for restaurants, shops, and activities all within a walk or short drive from the property.
More than a decade ago, I had a job interview in on of the W suites (I got the job, as editor of a travel guide series, which I held for four years until the company folded), and while I don’t have photos of the time, I remember the interview well. The publisher asked me whether the hotel we were sitting in was “cool, hip, or hot.” I was sure that I would be passed over for the role because I didn’t immediately understand the distinctions — there seems to be a great deal of crossover here — but I persisted and teased out an answer that must’ve satisfied him, which was, “All three.”
The current iteration of the W Los Angeles has a moody vibe I would describe as perpetual twilight. From the pop art of Ruben Rojas’ “Live Through Love” collaboration, which offers a universal positivity accessible to all ages (no small feat in these dark times) to the retro-chic poolside scene, where, no doubt, deals are still made on the regular, the hotel exudes an inviting, mellow, and of course, ever-stylish invitation to party. (Because it’s L.A., the party could center as easily around green juice as bottle service.)
Our presidential suite, of which there are a handful, allowed us a decadent immersion into Westside life. Adjacent to UCLA in a quiet residential neighborhood, the W feels a bit hidden away and surprising. Our suite came with a lavish master bedroom and huge bathroom (complete with large makeup mirror), and, at the other end, a cinema-style viewing space (just imagine the possibilities for watch parties and screenings). In between is a small kitchen and a large dining room, more suited for room service than cooking, and an even larger sitting room that’s particularly pleasing for cocktails or a weekend brunch gathering. There’s a guest bathroom, as well, so that visitors don’t have to traipse through your sleeping space.
Not surprisingly, my daughter’s favorite aspects of the hotel were the cinema room in our suite and the pool. We had a pool cabana for the day, and lounged in the pool (next to Rojas and his wife and baby), with breaks for excellent burgers cooked medium-rare. It was easy to see how this spot became legendary in the city for low-key, high-stakes conversations, and its as amenable to families with kids as it is to power lunches.
We concluded our last evening in L.A. with a screening of Minions 3, my daughter’s choice although she’d seen it several times before. We even ordered chocolate cake from room service for the occasion.
Why is this hotel the trifecta of hip, cool and hot? It’s cool because of its duration in time as a magnetic and inviting space for diverse kinds of people; it’s hot because it’s kept up with the trends in design, and the art collab speaks to Millennials coming up who are looking for their place in the city; and it’s hot because it’s hidden in plain view, and people keep coming — from families sharing a weekend getaway to a host of political and cultural celebrities (including Joe Biden, rumor has it) and others who want to be in the thick of things without being swarmed by tourists. So, yes, the W Hotel Los Angeles hits all the right notes, and you should consider it for your next trip to L.A.
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