Never Leave LA

The Mayfair Hotel: A Downtown LA Renaissance

This article was first published in MoneyInc, December 2018. 

As you pass through the gritty urban landscape of the emerging Westlake neighborhood in downtown LA, you will arrive at the newly revamped historic hotel Mayfair Hotel. The eclectic sexy hotel embodies the Los Angeles spirit and fosters creative self-expression with a communal writer’s room, custom podcast room, and art gallery space. The hotel is decorated with an impressive multimillion-dollar art collection curated by artist Kelly “RISK” Graval with bold art splashed at every turn from artists like well-known Angeleno Shepard Fairey, graffiti painter and rap artist Evidence, multimedia specialist Geoff Melville, and Seen (Richard Mirando), sometimes called the Godfather of Graffiti. Photographs in the stairwell are reminders that Los Angeles is the greatest city in the world.

The Mayfair’s luxurious lobby and M Bar is the place to unwind over a specialty cocktail like Trouble is my Business (Bacardi 8 rum with apple spice syrup, Angostura, and Hella orange bitters). While the original columns and floors are present from 1926, the ceiling is doused with light projections of the original tiles from a lightbox. The historic sweeping archways and grandiose columns are reminiscent of a former era while the plush seating, velvety curtains, and glamorous glowing bar backdrop exude “Stay awhile.” There was even a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger rode through the lobby on a horse in the movie True Lies.

On Fridays don’t miss live music in the swanky bar room adjacent to the lobby or a hot DJ shaking up the diverse crowd on Saturdays. The contemporary Angeleno vibe is felt throughout the 294 rooms as the black and white casual sophistication plays out in the décor. From our sumptuous bed, we kneeled near our pillows as our headboard was a window out to the city skyline. We peeled back the shade to watch the sunset hues melt over the densely packed city landscape. We were happy to be alive after a weeklong fire evacuation from Malibu and were still glued to the room’s 42-inch flat screen TV from bed to learn about recent updates.

An opulent ballroom is part of this 15-story property, once the site of the first Academy Awards after party in 1929. This third-floor ballroom – three stories high – can be rented for private events. Renovated to retain its former glory with original exposed brick and industrial concrete beaming, a massive ornate black crystal chandelier, a 34-foot white marble fireplace, and floor to ceiling antique mirrors make this a space to remember. Other meeting spaces that can be rented for private events include the Speakeasy and Library Bar as well as one meeting space donned with a wall map from 1929. A massive rooftop pool deck and bar are coming soon that will include a fitness center, private cabanas, and outdoor fireplace.

High-touch food and beverage options are part of the property’s appeal and of course, enhance the overall Mayfair Hotel experience. Helmed by Season 12 Hell’s Kitchen winner and celebrity chef Scott Commings, the hotel’s Eve American Bistro offers an outstanding food program for weekend brunch, lunch, or dinner. In the mod restaurant expect comfort dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Indulge in Crab Deviled Eggs, Tuna Tartar with crisp wontons, Truffled Aioli Burgers on brioche buns, and Crispy Chicken Sandwiches with kale and honey mustard. Order from the raw bar or select rotisserie meats like Rotisserie Chicken crisped with charred lemon over garlic whipped mashed potatoes. Don’t miss the warm sea salt chocolate chip cookie with Caramelito chocolate and Madagascar vanilla ice cream served in a skillet. The name Eve is inspired by a character from a Raymond Chandler novel written during his stay at The Mayfair in the 1930s.

Eve American Bistro inside The Mayfair Hotel.

Next door, find Fairgrounds, an easy hop for breakfast bites or satisfying your morning caffeine fix with the best coffee beans and tea leaves sourced from around the globe. Kombuchas, elixirs, whipped to order Matcha drinks, and even a Vosges Chocolate Truffle Mocha are ready for you from 6 am – 9 pm. You can even pick a flight of colds brews and nitros from their rotating selection from around the country.

Check-in at The Mayfair Hotel.

You never know what you may encounter in a 15-minute walk around downtown LA. Perhaps no other city in America has as many distinct neighborhoods in such close proximity. When your feet grow tired, take a $5 Uber or Lyft just a few minutes away to explore many exciting areas. At Grand Central Market eat your way around this 100 + year old food marketplace. If you have the patience, wait in a long line at Egg Slut for a breakfast sandwich or find a counter space to taste a juicy cheeseburger from Belcampo Meat Co. or a fresh heaping shrimp ceviche tostada at La Tostaderia. Coffee and juice bars, Mexican eats, a pasta bar, and Thai food from Mango Sticky Rice are just some of the 37 food and beverage stalls you can choose from.

Endorffeine in Downtown LA’s Chinatown

For a bit of LA culture, meander through the new exhibits on the first floor of The Broad (reserve your tickets in advance) then make your way to the Far East Plaza, another fun mecca of food options in Chinatown. Start at the sleek clean futuristic Endorffeine to get buzzed on a cortado and latte while reading the Downtowner LA paper before walking over to Okiburi House of Tsukeman, just a few months old. The handmade cold Japanese dipping noodles are served with a hot rich chicken, pork, and seafood broth with ribs, pork belly, tofu, and eggs. A lighter broth is also available with typical ramen noodles.

Okiburi House of Tsukeman

Nearby, peruse the burgeoning Arts District where Manuela’s outdoor chicken and garden space supplies their restaurant and moving Calder exhibits don the courtyard. Find more room in your belly to sample a smorgasbord of sweet and savory pies at The Pie Hole where you can rest your feet over slices of Earl Grey Pie, Mexican Chocolate Pie and Cheesecake Pie with fruit loops complimented with a hot cider and lavender latte. We dare you to resist taking home a Strawberry Hand Pie and a Chicken and Cornbread Pot Pie to-go!

The Pie Hole in downtown LA’s Arts District.

Looking for a place for dinner? The Water Grill started in downtown LA 33 years ago. Its first location is still serving sustainable seafood, from towers of chilled shellfish (lobster, Peruvian Bay scallops, mussels, clams, oysters, and shrimp oh my!), crab cakes with a spicy kick, and rich clam chowder with thinly sliced potatoes, whole clams, and smoked bacon. Ask for special menu items like the European sea bass ceviche presented as a whole sliced fish or beloved pasta plates like house-made tortellini with winter squash, mushrooms, and herbs.

Chilled shellfish at Water Grill, the very first location in downtown LA.

To keep your night going, grab a drink at lively Here and Now, a brand-new cocktail bar in the Arts District where you can cozy up at a train-style booth over fried olives stuffed with sausage, or roasted carrots and shishito peppers while learning a bit of LA history over your imbibing. The menu tells the story of LA in 3 centuries with travel-inspired drinks like Alligator Joy Ride (because apparently, rich folk liked to take photos of their kids riding alligators) and LA River Yacht Club. To really amp the night, share a communal Acapulco Bleu with three friends out of a weathered suitcase.

Cocktails at Here and Now.

Keep the libations going inside Kendell’s Brasserie at the Boardroom, a swanky French-feeling speakeasy lounge from the Patina Group. Charcuterie, an artisanal cheese board, escargot capped with puff pastry, duck fat garlic fries, and French macaroons pair well with a Cucumber Martini, Thyme and Elderflower Gimlet, or French Blackberry Margarita. The Proust punch comes tableside from a punch cart. Drink responsibly in a charming leather nook.

Boardroom.

To round out your weekend staycation, spend a few hours at the five-acre Row DTLA where Brooklyn-born Smorgasburg can now be found every Sunday out West. Discover the latest cuisines and imaginative food bites with over 75 food (and shopping) vendors gather from 10 am – 4 pm. Bolo Chicken, Lobsterdamus, New Haven Pizza, Brothecary, and Cheesuz are some of the standouts.

Use the Mayfair Hotel’s renaissance as a creative staycation and for Downtown LA exploration, especially in the winter. As you explore, cherish these survivors from the past and remember, today will certainly be the good old days of tomorrow.

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