This article was first posted on MoneyInc, July 2018.
Returning for staycation at the Mondrian Los Angeles was like returning to my LA beginnings eleven years later. The Mondrian, located in the middle of the Sunset Strip, was how I came to know LA and Hollywood. Once upon a time, celebrities sipped cocktails while shaking their designer booties next to you regularly at Mondrian’s famed Sky Bar. Champagne popped and flowed from 5 pm – 8 pm in this beautiful elevated lounge-y bar before the next round of Hollywood Hills parties began.
A Connecticut friend lived at the Mondrian for a month while he filmed a reality show, so visiting the notorious hotel while looking for a place to live was otherworldly, unlike any place I had known at the time coming from a quaint New England town. Everything seemed possible in those early days, ending up at a diner late night with the 90210 cast, Mark Wahlberg buying you drinks, Paris or Nicky Hilton sitting next to you at dinner, or Steven Spielberg eating a burger a stone’s throw away. The Mondrian Hotel is where the magic happened. All you had to do was show up.
Now I attend the legendary Skybar and the Mondrian’s restaurant Ivory on Sunset for more grown-up parties like dinner with Visit West Hollywood, a lunch with a new makeup-brand, the premier party for Million Dollar Listing, the unveiling of a new Angeleno Magazine issue, or J Lo’s red carpet something or other, but always my mind is flooded with how this city once was, right here in this iconic hotel.
Perhaps I am old but everything seemed wilder and more out of hand, where kids in their 20’s and 30’s were looking to suck every ounce of foolishness out of their youth. Even the hit HBO show Entourage portrays the Mondrian accurately. Now that I am married living in quieter Malibu, a reverse staycation at the Mondrian Hotel for my husband’s birthday seemed like a good change up from our ocean breezes.
Upon arrival, the same white minimalist lobby greeted us but now expanded with accented custom designed furniture, a Lucite indoor swing perfect for social media Boomerangs, and giant mirrors to admire oneself. THIS is LA! Bravado photography with eye teasing colors and beautiful people from photographer Tony Kelly dotted the lobby and elevators showcasing the luxe life – hands dripping with diamonds grabbing handfuls of colorful pills, a vintage Mercedes driven into a pool with a dashing man in preppy east coast bowtie standing on the trunk while his lady applies lipstick in the front seat. The art portrays the rich and carefree life, the who really gives a damn what anyone thinks attitude. Let’s shock them. We can do what we want and still look fabulous. Perhaps a metaphor for the hotel?
The Mondrian Hotel is still an iconic institution in the heart of the action, where you go to be seen, mingle, and meet your next best connection. Still to this day, not too much has changed. People from all over the world flock to stay here. The check-in desk is now off to your left, but the Hollywood vibes are still alive and well with everyone’s coolness factor evident in their sunglasses, hairstyle, or attire. Sunday pool parties are complete with hot bodies, unusual outlandish outfits, teeny bikinis, expensive drinks, but more British and Australian accents.
If you are looking to relax, weekdays are preferable to really enjoy the pool and have your own seat. From your lounge chair or shared bed, view the expansive city while changing positions to cool off in the pool. Order truffle fries, brussels sprouts, a kale salad with chicken, or a double cheeseburger from the poolside menu or walk a few steps to cool off at the Skybar, an open-air pavilion perched above the pool drenched in flowering pink Bougainvillea walls. Savor a $16 cocktail like the Red Headed Mule with Absolut Vodka, lemon juice, ginger beer, and muddled raspberries while you ogle the clientele.
Roll out of bed in the morning to make your own complimentary coffee, or start your day with an espresso or tea at the lobby bar café. For a sit-down lunch or dinner with more sweeping city views, the swanky but relaxed main dining room and outdoor terrace of Ivory on Sunset is just a few feet away from the pool. Find a shady umbrella-d table to sample California comfort cuisine like Grilled Octopus, Kale Salad with fried chickpeas, Lobster Salad, Veggie Wrap, or Tuna Melt.
When not lounging at the pool, we found ourselves wanting to spend time in our airy light-filled studio suite on the 11thfloor to admire the panoramic landscape of the Hollywood Hills and the city spread out before us. Whimsical black and white Hollywood glam furniture adorned the room with mirrors everywhere, a lounge sofa, a separate bar and coffee area, bamboo floors, and an exotic scalloped mirrored orange looking glass that pivoted to reveal a flat-screen TV within to watch from bed. Although the rainfall shower could use a bit of a tiling and drainage upgrade, there was plenty of space for me to get ready with soft lighting and Ciel amenities. Standard rooms, deluxe suites, balcony suites, apartments, and penthouses are also available.
Downstairs in the lobby, Exxhibit Boutique offers an impressive carefully curated selection of products from around the world tailored for the LA scene – from Herschel carry-ons, men’s hip bracelets from Miansai, colorful travel blankets and gear from Flight 001, and fun accessories reminiscent of a high-end Kitson. You may not be able to leave this store without buying something for yourself.
Since you are in the heart of the Sunset Strip, the Mondrian acts as a great launching pad to easily walk to food, shopping, and entertainment. Pop into the world-famous Comedy Store across the street for a comedy show or mesh with the Hollywood crowd at hotspot Katana which offers outdoor terrace seating at a glamorous property. A short walk will bring you to Joao Lobby Bar, a swanky lounge in the new Jeremy Hotel with outstanding options for breakfast or dinner. Share dishes with fresh ingredients like their poke bowl with mango and tuna, brussels sprouts with dates, burrata with stone fruit, crab egg rolls, and cocktails complete with a baby rosebud.
Nearby Estrella on Sunset is another hip option for outdoor brunch with colorful couches paying a nod to the artsy Laurel Canyon Bungalows of Joni Mitchell and “Mam” Cass Elliot. Bottomless mimosas with truffle fries, avocado toast, and fried eggs atop a skillet of sausage and Calabrian chile is how every weekend should start. Sex, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll with tequila, Mezcal, lime, ginger, rosemary honey and nutmeg is another worthy option. Just a short $5 Uber away are more eating options, like modern casual Granville where you can nosh on healthy lunch items like fresh shrimp lettuce wraps, artichoke hummus, organic salads, a Santa Barbara chicken sandwich, and Nitro Brew.
Soak up Hollywood’s timeless glamour and restless creativity by staying at the Mondrian Los Angeles.
8440 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069