When Coachella festival ended we drove back through the desert to spend a few days in LA. I have visited a few times before and I love it more every time I go. There is something so special about being in a city full of great places to eat, drink and explore and yet being so close to the beach. LA has it all.
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Mondrian Los Angeles, one of my all-time favourite hotels. We were upgraded to a Balcony Suite, one word, wow! Our room was so spacious and luxurious, the balcony overlooked the pool and downtown Los Angeles in the distance. My favourite part of the hotel is the pool (it’s very Instagrammable). It’s such a great place to hang out with friends, drink cocktails by day and eat dinner overlooking the panoramic sunset views of West Hollywood by night. I love staying at the Mondrian, it is such a special place; the rooms are beautiful, the views are spectacular and the location is perfect. This was my second stay at the hotel and it was as amazing as I had remembered. I already can’t wait to return!
The Mondrian is positioned on Sunset Boulevard, in the heart of West Hollywood (or We-Ho as the locals like to call it). It’s central to most of the popular destinations in the area. When visiting LA, be prepared to drive to most places as the area is so vast and spread out, it’s unlike most other cities in this way. We mostly used Uber to get around as it is so convenient out there, it never took longer than a few minutes to arrive and the drivers are super friendly. The Mondrian LA is about a 30 minute drive to Santa Monica, 45 minutes to Malibu and 10 minutes to Hollywood or Beverly Hills. However, the traffic in LA is infamous, so it could take a lot longer especially if you have to travel on the freeway (avoid travelling at peak times if you can).
Mondrian LA pool
On day one in LA, we drove down to Laguna Beach. This had been a destination on my bucket list for so many years (thanks to MTV and Lauren Conrad). Laguna Beach was simply beautiful. There were cobbled streets that led to ice cream parlours and jewellery boutiques, beachside restaurants and beautiful homes immersed in the hills. It was a dream.
We stumbled across the Laguna Village artist community (a collection of beachside galleries) and nestled in between the boutiques was a stunning oceanfront restaurant and bar, The Cliff. This is where we spent the afternoon. We sat in the sun drinking sangria and eating tacos as we watched the surfers down below. I would love to go back to Laguna Beach and stay there for a while, it totally captured the quintessential Californian lifestyle. If you are planning to visit LA, I would definitely recommend renting a car for the day to drive down the West Coast and explore the beautiful coastal cities.
To get the most out of your trip I definitely recommend having a plan of what you want to see, do and visit while you’re there. To help with your itinerary I have listed some of my all-time favourite places.
Places to eat in LA:
Nobu Malibu – This place is a must if you are in the area! My favourite time to visit Nobu is for lunch. Grab a table on the balcony and you can watch the wild dolphins swim by. Make sure to order the California and shrimp tempura roll. You can book 1 month in advance and only by telephone, you have to be fast though as tables get booked up very quickly.
The Nice Guy – This is such a fun place to go for dinner and drinks. It is also a celeb-favourite (we saw Cody Simpson) but unfortunately you won’t be able to get any pictures with them as there is a strict no photos rule (but there is a retro photo booth). The food and drinks are amazing, be sure to try out the vodka pasta and The Jojo! I would recommend a late dinner booking as it turns quite clubby later on. You can make a reservation on opentable 2 weeks before.
Catch – This beautiful rooftop restaurant and bar is very popular! They serve beautiful fish dishes, my fave is the crispy shrimp. They’re open for brunch and dinner. You can make a reservation on opentable a month before.
The Ivy Beverly Hills – Surrounded by beautiful flowers, there is definitely a secret garden vibe. A great place for lunch or dinner! A complimentary glass of champagne on arrival is always a winner for me. You can book on opentable well in advance.
Mr Chow Beverly Hills – This place is a favourite among the celebrities (we were sitting next to Lucas Hedges – from Ladybird)! Stunning food and décor, you really do feel spoilt after a trip here. You can book on opentable well in advance.
The Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge or Cabana Café – This is one of the most iconic hotels in the world, exuding luxury from the second you arrive as you walk down the red carpet into the lobby. Enjoy an elegant meal at the Polo Lounge or opt for a more casual setting at the Cabana Café, located next to the pool. You can book either restaurant on opentable, but be quick, tables are high in demand.
Pump Restaurant – If you are obsessed with the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills like me, this place is a must! It is owned by Lisa Vanderpump and often featured on the show. The olive tree in the middle of the outdoor seating area is a real showstopper. You can reserve your table on opentable.
Sunset Ranch – This was definitely one of the most memorable parts of our trip. We went on a 2 hour guided horse ride through the Hollywood hills up to Mount Hollywood. We had a great view of the Hollywood sign. The experience was definitely out of my comfort zone but I am so glad I did it. It was a great way to see the sign. However, I wouldn’t advise this trip to anyone with a fear of heights as the horses tend to walk on the edge of the cliff as this is where they feel most safe, ironically.
Hike to the Hollywood Sign – If horse riding isn’t your thing, you may prefer to hike to the sign. There are a few different routes you can choose from depending on how close to the sign you want to get and how quickly you want to do it.
Santa Monica Pier – This is such a fun place, definitely visit if you have the time. You can eat hot dogs, funnel cakes and ice cream, go on the rides and sunbathe on the beach. There’s a great shopping area called Third Street Promenade and lots of beautiful restaurants to choose from.
Hollywood Walk of Fame – This is the place to go to get your ultimate Hollywood tourist pictures. The Walk of Fame is very long but if you go to the Chinese Theatre, you will find the most iconic names in this area.
Rodeo Drive – Whether you have the cash to splash or you’re just window shopping, Rodeo is a must. You will find the most luxurious shops here and probably spot a few celebs.
The Grove – Another great shopping and dining location!
Melrose Ave – A great shopping and Instagram pic destination. You will be able to find the famous pink angel wings, Made in LA sign and the pink wall.
Venice Beach – This is where you will find Muscle Beach, skateboard parks and people roller skating down the boardwalk.
Malibu – If you need to escape the craziness of Hollywood, take a drive out to Malibu. This is probably the most relaxing and chilled out place I have ever visited. Take a picnic to the beach, or go paddle boarding in the water, you will definitely feel rested after a visit to Malibu.
LA is one of my favourite places in the world, whether you have a few days or a couple weeks, there is so much to see and explore! I hope this post can help you plan your trip to LA LA Land.
Link to our LA travel video below.
Check out what we did in the next part of our trip in Mexico here.