Written by Leah Sinclair
Hollywood is getting a revamp thanks to the Vinyl District, an emerging neighbourhood filled with restaurants, bars, hotels and spaces loved by locals and visitors alike.
There are many iconic things you think of when Hollywood comes to mind.
There’s the infamous Walk of Fame, which has seen hundreds of celebrities across the decades grace the street to have their names commemorated along the 1.3-mile landmark.
Then there’s the Chinese Theatre, which encapsulates the star power that the area historically possesses. And of course, the monumental Hollywood sign, which serves as the ultimate cultural landmark of the area, looming over Los Angeles for almost a century now (the sign celebrates its 100th anniversary this year).
But the glitz and glam historically associated with Hollywood has a stark contrast. The area, while known for fame and fortune around the world, isn’t quite just that (homelessness is rife in parts of Hollywood and the streets rival that of London and New York when it comes to cleanliness) and provides an interesting juxtaposition to what we know it to be versus the reality of what it is.
However, Hollywood is beginning to have a bit of a makeover, a resurgence if you will, among the cool kids of LA who’ve discovered the dichotomy of Hollywood’s gritty streets and its glamorous history. And now the Vinyl District has now transformed into an uber-cool paradise for city dwellers and in-the-know visitors – and I got to experience it all.
This part of Hollywood was previously nothing but empty lots and buildings before being regentrified into a chic hub in the heart of Hollywood with an eclectic mix of world-class hotels, restaurants, nightlife and event spaces, each developed by hospitality investment and management company, Ten Five Hospitality.
And if you’re looking to explore the incredibly cool district, we’ve got the details on just where to dine, drink and relax.
Hotels to stay at in LA’s Vinyl District: Thompson Hollywood and Tommie Hollywood
Tommie Hollywood and Thompson Hollywood are two sister hotels located in the Vinyl District and are the go-to spots to stay when in the neighbourhood.
During my visit to LA, I stayed at both hotels – starting with the laidback California coolTommie Hollywood. The hotel is a part of the Hyatt brand and has 212 guest rooms across nine floors – plus a particularly contemporary and chic lobby, where you’ll find dozens of guests and visitors working from their laptops and sipping iced matcha lattes to keep cool during the heat (which is what I did the majority of the time). There’s a particular ease to Tommie Hollywood which resonated with me, with the space filled with sleek structural columns, natural white oak and handmade ceramics.
The rooms, while compact, are super cosy and combine both style and function. The natural light and hardwood floors provide natural earthy tones and a calming ambience, complete with an ultra-comfy double bed and expansive windows with stunning views of the city.
After a nine-hour flight and combatting waves of jet lag in the days after, it provided the perfect space to truly unwind and relax, while also subconsciously encouraging you to get out and about exploring the surrounding blocks.
During my LA stay, I also spent a few days at the sophisticated Thompson Hollywood, which is a mere two-minute walk from Tommie and situated near the famous Hollywood and Vine intersection. If you’re looking for a polished and elegant space to stay in Hollywood, Thompson definitely provides that and more, thanks to the stunning mid-century bedrooms, lounge and rooftop pool with unparalleled views of the city.
Taking in the city views from the Thompson was pretty surreal for someone who grew up seeing these very views in television shows and movies – and in real life, it certainly didn’t disappoint, making it a great spot for tasteful travellers looking to get a glimpse of Hollywood’s eclectic community, compete with fabulous food and drink (the gruyère scrambled eggs became a firm breakfast favourite for me).
Where to drink in LA’s Vinyl District
Desert 5 Spot
To the left of Tommie Hollywood is the Americana-themed bar Desert 5 Spot, a desert-themed rooftop bar with fabulous views and equally brilliant cocktails (the watermelon margarita is not to be missed).
While exploring the bar, I was transfixed by the Americana-themed decor that added character to the space and echoed the vibe of 70s vintage Palm Springs. From a Dolly Parton-themed shrine and strategically placed cactus plants to the country-themed band that plays on weeknights, Desert 5 Spot is an oasis that brings the desert to Hollywood while providing 360-degree views of the Hollywood Hills and Downtown LA.
Sitting high above the heart of Hollywood is Bar Lis, the crown jewel of Thompson Hollywood. Entering the bar, I was greeted to 30 full-grown cypress trees lining the 60-foot walkway and an extravagant antique water fountain overflowing with flowers, set against the striking backdrop of the Hollywood Hills.
With a mix of plush stone-blue velvet banquettes and blush striped settees along with spinning disco ball catches, the chic rooftop lounge embodies the spirit of 60s-era southern France. Offering a range of canapés and coupes glacées created by chef Lincoln Carson, you’ll get a feel for the Côte D’Azur right in the heart of Hollywood.
Where to dine in LA’s Vinyl District
If you’re a fan of Mexican cuisine and a little biophilic decor, then Ka’teen is definitely the place to visit. The fully outdoor dining space is shrouded in greenery from the moment you enter and draws inspiration from the jungles of the Yucatán and the Mayan Riviera for a truly immersive dining experience.
Drawing on flavours and techniques absorbed from celebrated chef Wes Avila’s trips to the Yucatán Peninsula, the dishes are recontextualised through local ingredients, providing an exciting culinary experience from start to finish.
Standouts for me include the gypsy fever cocktail (illegal mescal, passion fruit, guava, lime, agave and fire water), scallop ceviche, pescado zarandeado (grilled whole fish, salsas, charred lime, arugula) and lamb shank barbacoa (braised lamb shank, pickled carrots, pickled onion).
Getting a table at this coveted Italian restaurant is no easy feat (Beyoncé and Jay-Z spent a date night at the Italian eatery last year), but a visit to Mother Wolf is definitely worth the hype.
The restaurant is described as Chef Evan Funke’s homage to Rome, creating rich and soulful dishes, from wafer-thin wood-fired pizzas to seasonal antipasti and traditional handmade pastas for which Funke is renowned.
During my visit, I was in awe of everything from the dishes, which included delicious oxtail meatballs and spaghetti all’arrabbiata, to the opulent decor, which included sumptuous red leather booths and warmly-toned tables.
From the atmosphere to the food, Mother Wolf is an elevated dining experience and a standout in LA’s Vinyl District.
A Parisian brasserie meets Hollywood glam, Mes Amis is an exciting culinary destination from chef Lincoln Carson and Ten Five Hospitality.
The restaurant draws inspiration from the glamour of Hollywood’s golden era and is evocative of the neighbourhood spirit of bustling cafes, bistros and brasseries from Paris to Lyon.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy some great cocktails with friends or savour some of the delicious French-inspired dishes on offer, Mes Amis is an ideal spot for any occasion.
What to do in LA’s Vinyl District
If you’re looking to stay in the Vinyl District, indulging in some good food and relaxation is the key – but there are other activities for those looking to pound the pavement and explore surrounding blocks…
Visit Amoeba Stores
I spent hours in Amoeba Stores purely for nostalgia alone. With streaming services basically erasing CDs from our existence, spending time in this record store was a treat as I perused albums old and new, vintage music posters and books, all housed in this holy grail to all things music. Whether you’re looking to purchase or just reminisce, a visit to Amoeba Stories is a must for any music lover.
When in Hollywood, Runyon Canyon has to be on your list of things to do. Watch the sunrise and take a hike to see the best views of the city (and perhaps a celeb sighting or two). Take the southern entrance at the end of Fuller Avenue in Hollywood and prepare to see the city as you’ve never seen it before.
Images: Michael Mundy; Trevor Tondro; Getty
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