With an amazing birthday trip that took me from San Francisco to Los Angeles via Half Moon Bay, Napa and Carmel and too many wonderful meals to count, not to mention the Pacific coast and driving through the desert en route, the final three days in LA were as wonderful as anything that had gone before.
Not having visited LA before there are some places that just had to be seen, such as Rodeo Drive, the famous Bel Air hotel, Santa Monica Beach and Mulholland Drive.
I came away with some distinct impressions; that the Bel Air Hotel is just as gorgeous as it’s supposed to be, that Rodeo Drive though beautifully designed has the same stores as Bond Street (or any major up market mall), that Santa Monica Beach is a combination of incredible beach, blue sky and shopping mall again, and that if you want to sit cheek by jowl with a movie or TV star at dinner you better go somewhere small and special rather than somewhere overtly public.
For an expensive but truly memorable meal you should go to Wolfgang Puck’s Restaurant at the Hotel Bel Air. It’s a short way out of LA up in the hills, very secluded, in exquisite gardens, and the food is seriously good. This was almost certainly the best meal of my trip. The central restaurant is noisy although there are lots of quiet booths dotted around. Make sure you book well in advance.
Another very good restaurant (and one where you’re far more likely to recognise one or two of the faces) is Il Grano where you’ll find modern Italian cooking with the freshest of ingredients. Slightly out of the center of town again in the other direction and well worth visiting.
Prices are certainly less than at the Bel Air, however great restaurants in Los Angeles are not inexpensive and this is highly rated in Zagat and elsewhere. Well worth it for the pasta and the sorbets alone.
Thirdly a great place for lunch – Panini Cafe. There are many cafes in LA, dotted around Rodeo Drive, where you can pay quite a lot for a very good salad. We discovered Panini Cafe on Santa Monica Boulevard (and there are others in this chain of Mediterranean cafes).
The food here is excellent and the prices are exceptionally reasonable so you can get over your bank breaking meal of the night before and eat healthily and well at the same time. One thing you’ll notice is that these cafes are always crowded with locals and visitors alike – there can be no better recommendation.
On to Los Angeles based jewellery designer Chan Luu, whose wrap bracelets I spotted in Napa earlier that week and regretted not picking one up. Although Vietnamese Chan Luu designs jewellery than bracelets to me these pieces stand out the most. And yes I did buy one in LA, and for the daughter also, she doesn’t realise that she’s in for a real treat.
You can find Chan Luu leather and beaded wrap bracelets at Net-a-Porter.com in the UK or if you’re in the US you can order from Amazon.com and have them shipped to you by next day delivery.
Chan Luu’s wrap bracelets are perfect worn casually with jeans or this season’s on trend Bohemian style. More expensive in the UK than the US inevitably but a pleasure to own and wear anywhere.