Location, location, location and food, food, food at the new NoMad Los Angeles
“Travis” was getting ready for his big debut when I saw him on a recent Sunday. It was 72 degrees and sunny in Downtown Los Angeles, and Travis—a decorative stuffed peacock—was sitting on the floor of the Parlour days before his new home was set to open. By now, he’s perched in of one of the most exciting hotels opening on the West Coast this year: NoMad Los Angeles.
The NoMad brand might sound familiar. Created by the Sydell Group, NoMad New York opened in 2012 north of Manhattan’s Madison Square Park (hence the name). In the short time it’s been open, NoMad New York has helped spur development in the hotel’s surrounding area, earning its stripes as a chic go-to for a luxurious stay and a Michelin-starred meal.
But the Sydell Group hadn’t planned at first to expand NoMad westward. “NoMad New York didn’t start as a brand idea but as a response to a building,” says Andrew Zobler, founder of the Sydell Group, referring to the Beaux Arts architecture of the original hotel. “When it was successful, we decided to do another one. We wanted to be in a city that was dynamic and interesting, and in a building of historic significance, and in a neighborhood that was evolving.” It was a tall order; Downtown L.A. fit the bill. As it turned out, a lot of the NoMad team members were excited at the prospect of expanding to the City of Angels; more than a dozen NoMad team members have relocated for the new hotel. “I love L.A.,” says Jeffrey Tascarella, general manager of dining at NoMad Los Angeles, who moved his family across the country after a lifetime in New York City (and who also named Travis the resident decorative peacock). “The food, the restaurants, the people—the layers here are insane.”
And the venture couldn’t be in a better spot to add layers. NoMad Los Angeles is located in Giannini Place, a 1922 building that served as the city's original Bank of Italy headquarters. “We were in love with the historic Italian ceiling, in particular the fact that it was such a wonderful surprise,” says Zobler. “You see this typical neoclassical facade, but there’s no wink that when you go inside you’re going to have this experience. Plus, there’s a big overlap between Italian sensibility and California climate, so [the aesthetic is] definitely why we went after the building.” The building wasn’t easy to acquire—Zobler surmises it took more than a year to convince the owner to sell it to them—but he and Sydell Group partner Ron Burkle had their hearts set on it.
That ceiling wasn’t just an inspiration to buy—it was an inspiration for design throughout the hotel. French designer Jacques Garcia, also responsible for the posh Parisian aesthetic of NoMad New York, executed an Italo-centric vision in Los Angeles. If il diavolo is in the details, Italy is indeed sprinkled throughout: The rooms’ palette draws on the lobby’s blue ceiling, vintage maps hang among the hallway art curated by Studio be-poles, and the engraved currencies of the world remain in full and restored view on the lobby door frame, evidence of the building’s banking past.
Beyond design, NoMad has another compelling reason to book a stay: the food. In New York City and now Los Angeles, all the spaces for drinking and dining are helmed by chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, whose list of accolades is so long to be unwieldy (for starters, their Eleven Madison Park has three Michelin stars and tops the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants). In partnership with executive chef Chris Flint and bar director Leo Robitschek, they’ve crafted five dining spaces at NoMad Los Angeles that range in formality and ambiance. Nab a casual espresso and filled pastries or snack (think carrot cake or smoked salmon and cream cheese) at the very Venetian ground-floor Coffee Bar, replete with standing marble-top tables that will transport you to Piazza San Marco; sip an artfully arranged cocktail at the Giannini Bar; or, reserve a table for a sophisticated dinner at the Mezzanine (we recommend the Chicken for Two). Hotel guests will also have exclusive access to a rooftop bar and pool, set to open later this spring. For those hoping to get their Roman Holiday fix all the way from California, there’s a life-size replica of the Bocca della Verita.
Ultimately, NoMad aims to be a positive driving force in the long-awaited awakening of DTLA. Given its ardent following in New York, it certainly could get there. “The NoMad has got a personality and a point of view,” Zobler says. “We hope it’ll draw a whole group of people downtown who might otherwise not be coming.”