Paying a visit to West Hollywood and leaving without a hangover, or at very least, a bruised-and-battered wallet, barely counts as a trip.
Lying somewhere around the middle of California, it’s a small-but-mighty 1.9-square mile city that boasts some of the greatest attractions and restaurants the state has to offer.
Dining out at many of the city’s latest and greatest restaurants, taking-in the nightlife afterwards and washing it all off the next day with any one of the latest Californian health fads is as much a way of life for the city’s estimated 16,000 LGBTIQ locals as it is for visitors.
But how to do it like the locals, you ask?
Here’s a comprehensive four-day guide to making the most of the food, nightlife and entertainment options in West Hollywood, as well as where to go the next morning to erase the damage.
Where to stay
West Hollywood has a surprising number of hotels packed into its small urban sprawl, but the ones that stand are genuinely world class.
Take The Jeremy Hotel, for example on Sunset Boulevard. The double towered hotel stands just off the end of La Cienega Boulevard – the most direct route to and from LAX – and offers stunning panoramic hillside views of the Los Angeles basin with glimpses of Santa Monica beach on a clear day.
The 286-room hotel is one of the newest developments in LA touting the fact it’s the only hotel to be built from the ground-up in over 30 years. As a guest there, it means of course that many of the rooms still have that ‘new room’ smell, made only better by either basin or Boulevard views, a guest pool and gym, in-hotel bar, cafe and restaurant and centrally convenient access to everything we’re about to recommend.
Find out more and see the rooms on offer at The Jeremy at the hotel’s website.
Start the day
Nobody likes a 14-hour flight and that’s a big reason why one of LA’s latest most effective, sobering and detoxifying health trends will more than sort you out. Shape House is an urban sweat lodge in West Hollywood is a relatively new, but insanely popular infrared sweat session that forces the body to do some impressive things.
Laying down on a bench, you’re wrapped in a plastic ‘sleeping bag’ as your body is heated to 70° Celcius. Why? Well, it kicks your metabolism up a notch leaves you feeling cleansed from the inside out. You’ll sweat out all your impurities, giving the body a restart as you enjoy the benefits of having ticked-off cardio for the day.
Recommend: Drink a lot of water before you hit this lodge – it will all leave your body soon enough.
Tip: Definitely wear the clothes they give you. You don’t want to subject your actual threads to the effects of your body’s reaction.
See more about the Shape House Urban Sweat Lodge at their website.
All that ‘exercise’ will leave you needing a refuel, so a lunch at a West Hollywood institution like Cecconi’s is an obvious choice.
About a block away from the Shape House, it’s easily walking distance and a welcome refuge from the raging street outside as you step behind walls of ivy and greenery into a vestibule of easy but refined dining. No wonder the celebrities like it so much.
Cecconi’s does contemporary fare while incorporating all the latest health and wellness trends as it goes. Think basil pesto green eggs, cold press juices and low-sugar fruit arrangements.
Recommend: From the eggs menu, Cecconi’s green eggs, avocado, pesto on multi-grain is fragrant, zesty and filling must.
Tip: Request a seat on the stunning and cool patio near the entrance; it’s prime real estate for spotting anyone.
See more about Cecconi’s and the full menu at their website.
Dinner at Catch LA is a must if seeing and being seen is your thing. Catch LA is the Californian iteration of a New York favourite that touts flash al fresco dining with a predominantly seafood menu right in the heart of West Hollywood.
It has captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike, taking what you know about seafood restaurants and turning it right up.
They’re about the experience, which from the moment you enter the building is incomparable. From a long corridor to the maître d’, overhanging with vines and floral arrangements to a menu that is as gastronomically sensational as it is pretty to look at, Catch LA really offers something all its own in a setting that demands nothing less.
With the added benefit of a vegan menu as well as the obligatory meaty must-haves, Catch LA is an easy option for all tastes and all budgets.
Recommend: The Hellfire Roll, sushi but not as you expect. They basically set it alight on table and it looks, smells and tastes spectacular.
Tip: This really is where people go to be seen, so releasing your inner poser is almost a prerequisite.
See the menu and more about the restaurant at the Catch LA website.
Around the corner from Catch LA is EP & LP, a venue that you will quickly learn is watering hole to the funky, and hang out to the cool.
Owned by Australian restauranteur Grant Smillie, it goes without the highfalutin glitter that WeHo knows all so well. It instead focuses on its easy atmosphere, stunning panoramic views of the Los Angeles basin and – if you’re not full enough from dinner – Asian kitchen under the successful two-year tenure of Executive Chef Louis Tikaram.
Recommend: Nothing beats a negroni in hand with the view of a stunning city.
Tip: Be really nice to the bouncer because he’s who decides if you’re in or out. Then, score a seat next to the improv DJ booth and watch a true extended play master do their thing.
See more about EP & LP LA at their website.
Work it off
Back in 2009, a Sydney rugby player by the name of Luke Milton thought he’d jump ship to West Hollywood and hasn’t looked back since. He wanted to bring his own Sydneysider brand of active living and fitness to the tiny town of West Hollywood – fast forward eight years, it’s still going strong.
Training Mate is the product of Milton’s passions and it’s his philosophy of getting fit and healthy with mates in a fun Australianised environment has really struck a chord with Angelinos.
With the tried-and-true 45-minute track exercise method being hugely popular at the moment, Milton’s adaptation of this to workable classes in a central location with an added focus on enjoyment really sets the studio up as a cut above the rest.
Plus it converts the brunch, dinner and drinks from the day before into but a distant memory. What guilt?
Recommend: Bring some cash to buy some water from concierge – you’ll need it (US$1 per bottle).
Tip: Try going on a Friday for legs day; it comes complete with a 10-minute abs session afterwards to really ruin you.
Find out more about Training Mate WeHo at their website.
Speaking of brunch, after having just burnt around 600 calories off in a Training Mate high intensity class, you’ll need to refuel and there is nowhere more readily perfect to do so than the Mondrian Hotel.
Their hotel pool is open to the public and lies adjacent to the hotel’s incredibly cool restaurant and bar. Think old cigar rooms of eras past combined with flocked walls and funky, forward-thinking interior design. It’s a treat.
Their menu is wide and far-reaching, offering all sorts of typical staples like eggs benedict to the more adventurous chilaquiles, a South American nacho-like breakfast.
Once you’ve had your fill, a very LA-looking hotel pool awaits, complete with roaming bar staff, day beds and a sweeping view of the Los Angeles basin. Drink it in, cocktail in-hand.
Recommend: Try the chilaquiles for a meal. Similar to nachos, they’re light, easy to eat and won’t leave you rolling out onto the pool deck.
Tip: The pool area at the Mondrian turns into a club at night for guests and the public, so be sure to head-in early and secure yourself a good position.
See more about what’s on offer at the Mondrian Hotel at their website.
If pool parties aren’t for you, take the night off and head to Rosaline in West Hollywood. A modern Peruvian restaurant that takes some classics, shakes them up and serves them in an incredibly stylish way, it’s one of the city’s hottest venues.
It’s modestly sized, but if the heaving masses of diners anticipating a table don’t give it away, maybe endless wait list will; size doesn’t matter.
Roseline is worth the wait. She is known for her rich flavours, earthy inspiration and authentically inspired dishes that you won’t find readily in many other places.
If dishes like chicharron de paiche (popped kiwicha, fried amazonian paiche, yuzu aioli sauce), pescado parrillero (grilled branzino, charcoal quick dried, black mint aji sauce, canario beans puree) and corazon anticucho (beef heart skewers, rustic rocoto pepper, feta cheese, walnut sauce) don’t get you going, then nothing will.
Of course, for the less adventurous, their popular paella dish as well as a traditional cocktail menu, shaken-up with subtle-but-effective continental differences will do the trick, too.
Recommend: As scary as it is, definitely try the corazon anticucho, its beef heart that feels and tastes so much like well-done eye fillet, you won’t tell the difference.
Tip: Arriving early helps with Rosaline as it’s very popular.
See more about Roseline at their website.
Say the word ‘karaoke’ to most people and the hair on the back of their neck stands on end, but, that’s because they likely haven’t been to the Blind Dragon.
Just down the road from The Jeremy Hotel and off Sunset Boulevard, the Blind Dragon as a regal Chinese themed bar, restaurant and – you guessed it – karaoke den that makes the whole concept a lot more palatable.
Inside the bar is dark, mood-lit and accentuated with traditionalistic red lights and dramatic drapes to really hone-in on the off-the-beaten-track element the venue has.
Complete with private room, karaoke suite service and total sound-proofing, the Blind Dragon is the perfect way for anyone from the most nervous to the most seasoned of singers to really come out of their shell.
Recommend: Spanish language songs take a huge portion of the song lists, so try a little in the language of love.
Tip: You will need to make a booking to secure a suite for yourself and friends.
See how to make a booking and more of what the Blind Dragon is about at their website.
Start the day
There’s no denying that LA and West Hollywood are renowned for their fitness fads and health trends and injectable vitamins is just another new one to add to the list.
Rehab Wellness on La Cienega Boulevard, only two blocks away from The Jeremy Hotel is just one of the menu injectable vitamins and aesthetics clinics in West Hollywood that, like magic, are able to make you feel a lot better about the damage you did the night before.
From curing hangovers to pumping you full of body-nurturing vitamins and minerals, their medically-approved and administered procedures are as safe as anything any other medically trained nurse would and just as effective.
Recommend: The ‘Seth G Double Shot’. Seth is a local trainer who’s so healthy, they had to name an injectable concoction of vitamins after him. This one contains lipolean with chromium B12, B6, B1, B2, B3, B5, 4 amino acids & L-carnitine that will help with energy and metabolism, muscle gain, fat burn and blood and sugar regulation.
Tip: This is a needle administered to the backside, so if you’re uneasy about needles, or exposing some flesh, rethink.
For more information and to meet the team, see the Rehab Wellness website here.
Gracias Madre is easily hailed by most as the best Mexican in West Hollywood. And that’s before you even realise that it’s vegan.
The restaurant offers trendy industrial aesthetics inside, leafy and welcoming Mexican villa aesthetics outside, which when paired with one of the restaurants famed margaritas, makes for quite the south-of-the-border experience you could be after.
Everything on the menu is ethically sourced, totally vegan, completely delicious and delightfully deceiving, meaning had you not been told, you probably wouldn’t notice.
In a city as health-conscious and green-loving as West Hollywood, it goes without saying as to why Gracias Madre is as popular and beloved as it is.
Recommend: If you’re adventurous, try asking the waiter what they recommend and prepare for the gastronomic surprise that awaits.
Tip: A seat outside can never be beaten, especially at brunch time. Always aim for one of these where possible.
See more about Gracias Madre at their website.
Typically the words ‘dive bar’ and ‘iconic’ tend to not go hand-in-hand, but the Rainbow Bar just down the road from The Jeremy Hotel on Sunset Boulevard is just that.
Famed for being the local haunt of rock royalty like Kiss and Guns ‘N Roses, the clandestine watering hole of pop icons like Lady Gaga and the renowned venue where Marilyn Monroe met Joe DiMaggio, Rainbow Bar just oozes cool.
The food is stereotypically American, the drinks are cheap and easy and the carpet feels like it’s never been vacuumed, but underneath all that lies an historic venue that houses more memories and musical history than all the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For music fans, this bar is a must.
Recommend: Start outside, rubbing shoulders with the regulars before heading inside to a pleasantly subdued, but equally as cool restaurant and bar.
Tip: It’s pretty rugged, so pull out the black clothes and leather jackets before you go.
See more about the Rainbow Bar at their website.
How did Khloe Kardashian get that backside? Or that body for that matter? She became a devoted lover of the cultish movement that is Soul Cycle. So naturally, you cant, too.
Burning upwards at 600 calories from the moment you start pedalling, Soul Cycle is one of the most physically intense spin classes you can do, but the result? Well, that’s what keeps its devoted members returning throughout the week and the activity teetering in easily top spot for the best way to shake-off a rough night.
For 45 minutes, a DJ-come-instructor walks between bikes demonstrating the classes’ choreography and dictating your pace. It’s not easy. Meanwhile as they foster good energy and vibrations, while emotionally dispelling any negativity in your mind individually and as a troupe, it’s hard to tell whether the class is exercise, therapy or religion. Regardless, you feel phenomenal afterwards. One class is all it takes to get hooked.
Recommend: If you’re a beginner book a bike at the back of the room. You’ll need to follow the advanced riders.
Tip: Every class is packed, and with over 70 bikes in the West Hollywood studio alone, it’s a busy session. Book well in advance.
Tip: Across the terrace from the WeHo studio is Earth Bar, known for their juices and smoothies. Definitely worth a visit. See more at their website.
Find out more about Soul Cycle and how you can try it at their website.
Pearl’s Liquor Bar on Sunset Boulevard is one of those gems the locals love and visitors flock to for obvious reason. Since taking over the location of Duke’s in 2013, Pearl’s is the second gem in the crown of the LORE Group and joins Rock & Reilly’s Irish Rock Pub, only with a little more refined flair, making the perfect location for a boozy brunch.
Pearl’s menu is all about featuring selections of small plates and entrees, highlighting seasonal ingredients and local fare.
Their menu staples like apple & horseradish glazed wild salmon served with roasted turnips and black barley risotto and the truffled mushrooms and goat cheese flatbread with oyster mushrooms, garlic confit, olive oil and micro basil only begin to scratch the surface of their enviable menu.
Put it all together, add some sunshine and a prime seat on the balcony side of the rooftop, overlooking Sunset and it’s a good morning.
Recommend: Pearl’s offers complimentary mimosa kits with each bottle of champagne purchased, so definitely take her up on that.
Tip: Request a table close to the balustrade so you can people watch on this colourful end of town.
See more about Pearl’s Liquor Bar at her website.
The reputation of LA and West Hollywood didn’t just happen by chance, it was crafted specifically by locations and venues that wanted to be the it place for celebrities and the rich and famous to feel safe and looked after.
Enter Craig’s, West Hollywood’s biggest celebrity hot spot – complete with exclusive, paparazzi-free rear entrance – where someone you know is sure to be enjoying a sneaky cheat day meal.
Craig’s is “an American restaurant”, proudly serving typical American dishes that hit the spot with a level of gastronomy that keep the famous coming back. Dishes like pizza, Buffalo wings, truffled carbonara and both white and red meat dishes done with a touch of elegance make Craig’s an obvious choice for a before-drinks binge or casual weekend meal.
Recommend: The handmade carbonara with guanciale and truffle is sensational.
Tip: You’ll need to make reservations, but request a table in the centre of the restaurant. It gives you prime viewing of the whole space.
See the menu and read more about Craig’s at his website.
Debatably the most famed and successful gay bar in the world, The Abbey has been serving the LQBTIQ community of West Hollywood and great Los Angeles since 1991. And having just undergone a renovation to incorporate the bar next door, The Chapel, it shows no signs of slowing down.
The home to drag artists the city-wide, the renowned gogo dancers and a reputation for all-hours debauchery, The Abbey is a venue to see to be believed.
Offering table service, a full kitchen and bar, as well the opportunity to get up close and personal with male dancers in their physical prime, there’s no wonder The Abbey is an absolute West Hollywood must.
Recommend: Saturdays are fun, but Sundays are where it’s at for The Abbey. Get there by around 3pm to secure a Sunday Session table, sort out some table service and watch the afternoon unfold.
Tip: The Abbey is one of the only gay clubs in Los Angeles that offers table service, so definitely take advantage of that for what is comparatively a minimal fee.
See more of what’s on offer at The Abbey at their website.
After you have smashed out a four day trip to West Hollywood loaded with back-t0-back eat, drink and play, rinsed it away with any of the latest health activities and decided it’s time to head home, consider American Airlines.
The American airline now offers direct routes from Sydney to LAX for a pleasantly affordable price and at only around 14-hour flight with American precision, you’ll be there in no time.
Tip: Yes it costs more, but flying business class with AA will change your life. It’s spacious, luxurious, you’re well attended-to and will sleep the trip through. Consider the option when booking.
See more at American Airlines’ website.