Pembury Partners Travel Diaries: Los Angeles
Everyone knows LA. As the home of the movie industry it’s etched in the global consciousness as the hot, exciting palm-tree strewn city where anything is possible, and as the playground of the rich and famous. But when the dust has settled from the on-screen action and you’ve spotted enough celebrities going about their daily business, what’s it really like?
We’re currently helping a client with an interesting role based in LA, so thought it might be nice to take a look at some of the high points of the City of Angels that don’t involve CGI monsters or the paparazzi lifestyle, but focus on the outdoor experiences to be found here.
The Griffith Observatory is perfect for those interested in the actual stars rather than the Hollywood variety. The planetarium is considered one of the best in the world and the telescopes are Brobdingnagian in stature. As well as being an (highly enjoyable) educational experience the 1,134-feet-above-sea-level situation of the observatory provides a panoramic cityscape.
Santa Monica is the perfect, iconic golden beach town you’d expect it to be, complete with its famous pier, seemingly endless boardwalk and street performers. Explore on foot, or take a tip from the beautiful locals and hire a bike, Segway or roller blades. You’ll also find the world’s most famous outdoor gym here, Muscle Beach.
Whilst on the subject, it would of course be remiss not to also mention Venice Beach. Walk or bike along the boardwalk or simply hang out in the numerous bars, take a surfing lesson, or go on a food-themed walking tour. Just a few minutes inland are the Venice Canals, perfect for a peaceful change of pace from the shoreline.
To truly appreciate the breadth and beauty of Los Angeles, from the Pacific Ocean to the soaring buildings downtown to the Hollywood Hills, it’s well worth taking a flying tour – especially at sunset. There are numerous options, from light aeroplanes to ultralights (think hang glider with an engine) or even private flying lessons.
If you prefer to keep your feet (or, indeed, hooves) on the ground a horse riding tour through Mount Hollywood is a relaxing way to get out of the constant activity that typifies much of LA. Another excellent means to this end is to go kayaking or paddleboarding at Marina Del Ray, often accompanied by local dolphins and sea lions. You could alternatively rent a yacht instead, for the day or to dine under the stars. Nearer downtown is Echo Park with its famous swan-shaped pedal boats, or for a different sort of waterbound experience go whale watching from the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Los Angeles has a wealth of luxury hotels, boutique and international, throughout the city. Those travellers seeking a breath of fresh air rather than “living large” or star-spotting are well catered for. A few favourites:
The Malibu Beach Inn is a boutique establishment in the heart of Malibu, near top restaurant Nobu and the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
22878 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265, United States https://malibubeachinn.com
Shutters on the Beach is, as you’d reasonably expect, a glamourous beachfront property in Santa Monica with an ocean-facing terrace.
1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405, United States https://shuttersonthebeach.com
Hotel Shangri-La is another Santa Monica landmark, in classic Art Deco style and with an unbeatable location, pool deck and rooftop bar for sunset margaritas.
1301 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, United States https://shangrila-hotel.com
The Nobu Ryokan is the last word in Japanese-style seclusion, despite being within walking distance of the hotspots of Malibu. All 16 rooms have ocean views.
22752 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265, United States https://malibu.nobuhotels.com
On a larger scale, but still with an ideal beachfront situation and laid-back attitude, the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot offers low-key luxury, is pet friendly and boasts a sizeable spa.
1740 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, United States https://marriott.com