It begins with a vibrant boutique hotel 'Shade' in Manhattan Beach (click video) 5 miles from Los Angeles International Airport and 3 blocks from the beach. Only 38 well appointed rooms with Cyclone fireplace, spa bathtub for two under ever-changing colored lights, lounge in the sun on their Skydeck with large Jacuzzi complimentary wi-fi, seasonally fresh breakfast and bicycles to ride around the village for the day. Saturday night we visited their Zinc bar for a before dinner cocktail. My martini was served in a glass made of ice, refreshing does not begin to describe the unique experience on my lips.
|Lisa Lyon by Mapplethorpe|
We then made our way to the South Coast Plaza Mall in Costa Mesa (click). Hundreds of shops, restaurants and kiosks will take up half your day to visit them all. There are numerous luxury fashion houses represented not found in many other shopping districts, a bit lacking the depth of inventory to a stand alone boutique but a treat just the same. For those in the know, there is even a rare Patek Philippe boutique.
Now I must spend some time talking about the ocean side village of Manhattan Beach where we stayed. It is this small community that changed my mind on the mystique that surrounds LA. This place just says "Ahhhhhhh": cute, clean, friendly, casual, walk-able, bike-able, fresh air, sight-seeing, active lifestyle, surfing, good food, neighborhoody, and family oriented. Our hotel room was luxurious and comfortable but I just wanted to spend all my time outdoors soaking in everything offered to me. Dinner with friends nearby on Friday night was a treat as we walked to the restaurant in the ocean air, walked to the famous Comedy & Magic Club where Jay Leno plays every Sunday night and has hosted names such as Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, George Wallace and Gabriel Iglesias, Saturday night we dined at a French Bistro a block from the hotel "Cafe Pierre" (click). Some of their menu items include, rabbit, octopus, housemade merguez sausage, and roasted bone marrow. Our server was friendly and helpful navigating the menu and food preparations, and the restaurant host wonderfully accommodating finding for us the table of our choice. We'll be back!
Travelling by car was never an exercise in frustration, we brought our Tom Tom GPS driving partner pre-programmed with all the sites we planned to visit. Los Angeles basin is a basket weave of large freeways, just be forewarned to stay off them between 2:30pm and 7:00pm. L A as a region has many personalities and most of them good ones, but always gets a bad rap. I will make another list of places to visit, and restaurants to try and promise to plan another 3-day trip in the near future.