Why You Should Go to Los Angeles This Summer

A bumper crop of hotel openings, the meticulous restoration of a glamorous Hollywood hot spot, and thrilling art installations are making Tinseltown sizzle this summer.

Why You Should Go to Los Angeles This Summer

The Second Home Serpentine Pavilion: a whimsical addition to the Miracle Mile neighborhood

Photo by Iwan Bann; courtesy of Second Home

Los Angeles has a particular glow this summer, warmed with the eager anticipation of Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and kept cool by some exciting hotel openings around town, as well as cultural offerings that invite you in. Now’s the time: Go west, young hipster.

Mild colors with killer views at the Santa Monica Proper Hotel

Mild colors with killer views at the Santa Monica Proper Hotel

Photo by The Ingalls; courtesy of Proper Hotels

Consider hotel-hopping

Calling itself the edgier version of its parent Soho House brand, the members-only Soho Warehouse is set to open in Downtown L.A.’s Arts District in August, with annual dues running $2,160. The idea of exclusivity—along with a rooftop pool, art-filled member spaces, and 48 guest rooms (bookable by members and nonmembers) set in the solid and generous proportions of the 1916 warehouse building—make this property’s ascent to new hot destination status easy to predict. Downtown L.A.; sohowarehouse.com

If your membership application to Soho Warehouse gets delayed, consider snagging a room at the Santa Monica Proper Hotel, which opened in June. Not only is the hotel flat-out gorgeous and a 10-minute walk to the beach, but August also brings the opening of its ground-floor restaurant, Onda, an exciting collaboration between two famed female chefs: Gabriela Cámara (chef at Mexico City favorite Contramar) and Jessica Koslow (chef of Sqirl, a restaurant-bakery with a cult-like following in L.A.’s Westlake neighborhood). Santa Monica; properhotel.com.

Palisociety Hotels, a homegrown L.A. brand, continues its local expansion with Palihotel Westwood Village, which opened in May, and Silver Lake Pool & Inn, which will begin taking guests in September. The Palisociety hotels are great for travelers looking for the experience of a relaxed and design-driven hotel—there are no gyms, spas, or doormen. The properties all have a strong connection to their neighborhoods. The Silver Lake location, a former motel renovated into a stylish boutique hotel with a retro-’70s vibe, promises guests an iconic Southern California poolside experience. The Palihotel Westwood Village, set in a 1939 white three-story art deco building with a peppermint-striped awning, offers a shared kitchen with breakfast laid out daily for grazing. There are also inviting public spaces inside and out for gathering and lingering, and lovely, sunny guest rooms. Choose which neighborhood works best for your plans and book a stay. palisociety.com

The Formosa is back and radiating the same glamour that made it a Hollywood legend.

The Formosa is back and radiating the same glamour that made it a Hollywood legend.

Courtesy of the Formosa Café

Eat out and stay cool

Almost three years after it closed, the Formosa Café, an old nightclub hangout favored by gangsters like Bugsy Siegel and movie stars like Clark Gable, has reopened this summer with its over-the-top Chinese decor divinely intact and its former Chinese American menu updated with a Taiwanese polish. Still in place: the old streetcar that was annexed to the building and integrated into the floorplan, and the black-and-white headshots of Hollywood stars. Get in on the glamour and book one of the red vinyl booths. Hollywood; theformosacafe.com

The Bungalow, the always happening indoor-outdoor bar and patio at the Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica, is the site of a summer Night Market every Thursday from 5 p.m., with food trucks, cocktails, picnic tables, live performances, and rotating DJs from local station KCRW. The weekly outdoor gathering is free to enter and family-friendly, so if you’re vacationing with the kids, they can enjoy a sunset picnic of tacos and churros while mom and dad have a drink. Santa Monica; thebungalow.com

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus movement at the Getty Center.

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus movement at the Getty Center.

Form and color study, Joost Schmidt, ca. 1929–1930. Watercolor over graphite on paper. Joost Schmidt Papers, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Enjoy your beach vacation with a generous side of culture

The city has a few cultural events to boast about this summer. Frank Lloyd Wright’s striking Hollyhock House was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, the first L.A. place so honored. You can visit the restored 1940s Hollyhock House—considered an inspiration for the California modernist style—via a self-guided tour, or for the same $7 admission price, take a docent-led tour. Los Feliz; barnsdall.org

Los Angeles is also taking part in the worldwide celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus movement with the Bauhaus Beginnings exhibit at the Getty Center, which covers the founding principles of the Bauhaus school. Through October 13; Bel Air; getty.edu

A sprawling rainbow-colored structure that looks like an alien spaceship designed by a unicorn has landed on the grounds of the La Brea Tar Pits: the Second Home Serpentine Pavilion. The pavilion, originally erected four years ago in London, has been set up in L.A. as a community gathering place. The structure, in place through November 30, is a collaboration between the Natural History Museum and Second Home, a European company that operates coworking spaces. Entrance to the colorful installation is free, with ticketed events like film screenings and talks with filmmaker David Lynch among other programming. La Brea; pavilion.secondhome.io

Next: Plan Your Visit With AFAR’s Los Angeles Travel Guide

In these quiet days leading up to her Powerball win, Ann works as a freelance travel editor and writer. A fan of literature, museums, history, high-minded cinema, and bad television, Ann lives in New York with her husband and two teenaged children. She likes road trips, local bars, getting lost, and laughing, so Ireland ranks high on her list of favorite places.
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