I went to LA in September 2015, with four lovely girls I’ve known since my uni days. The whole holiday was organised by Jess who is a bit like me – a serial planner. In fact she’s way worse than me, but we were definitely in good hands when it came to making sure we saw everything! She planned everything perfectly. We had 3 days in LA, before moving on to Vegas for five. It was a full on girly holiday, and none of us had been to LA before so we wanted to see as much as possible. If Vegas was all about the nightlife, LA was all about the days (for me anyway, jet lags a right cowbitch).
A ten hour flight from London and we landed in LAX, it’s the furthest I’ve ever travelled, and right from the beginning it really felt like we were a world away. Even New York and Florida feel a lot closer to home than LA did. It was so hot, and so busy! I’d heard about LA traffic before, and it was mental. We were staying at the Mondrian, LA and we arrived there at…haven’t a clue, the time difference completely confused me, I’d say early afternoon LA time?
A pool party was in full swing and after we checked in, we went down and were hit with LA in all its glory! I’ve done a full hotel review on the Mondrian LA here.
Before I went to LA I’d heard plenty things about it, everyone’s constantly bothered what they and you look like, everything is very healthy, and it’s a dirty city that just isn’t that nice. This wasn’t my experience of it at all, but we did only have three days and we basically did the typical tourist things being first timers.
I was recently asked about my trip there, and to be honest I can’t fully remember the fine details of exactly what we got up to at what time to give a really concise itinerary like some of my others, but this is a general overview of the main things that we did over three days.
3 Days in LA – Day 1, Runyon Canyon, Santa Monica and Venice Beach
Runyon Canyon Park and hike
Our jet lag worked in our favour on our first day as we were all up so early. From the Mondrian it was a five minute taxi ride to the entrance of Runyon Canyon, and despite being up that early it was still pretty hot with the sun blaring down. Jess had researched that there were two routes to take, the left or right and one was more difficult than the other. We took the right, thinking it was the easier one – wrong! It wasn’t difficult at all, and we were all just in trainers but there was a bit more scrambling than your average stroll up a nice path to the top.
Half way up we came across a fire engine, completely random but they’re there because of how many people do this without any water in the heat. It’s not a long hike at all, but definitely don’t underestimate it, or how hot you will get as it was boiling! We got to the top and were met with views that stretched all over LA and the Hollywood Hills. It was pretty amazing!
It was also quite busy, and a mix of tourists like us and locals, with their tiny little dogs, dressed head to toe in pink and clearly going about their Sunday morning healthy ritual. I didn’t spot Jennifer Anniston sadly, although apparently she is partial to a Runyon Canyon stroll every now and then. We took the easy route down, which was a lot more of a proper path, and in total the hike took us maybe a couple of hours, including spending some time at the top taking photos and admiring the view.
Mondrian for Lunch
By the time we came back from the hike we were all sweating our pants off, and it was pretty hot, so we went back to the Mondrian for a pool session and some lunch. The hotel is very popular to go for food, even if you aren’t staying there due it’s lovely restaurant terrace with views across LA. I love the decor of it, and we sat and had prawns with sweet chilli sauce, and pizza. You can get pizza in LA, proper pizza with cheese, but yes it did have kale on it!
Santa Monica Pier
After we enjoyed a sunbathe and some cocktails by the pool over the hottest part of the afternoon, we got changed and ventured out to Santa Monica. Being a Sunday afternoon it was really busy, with families enjoying the amazing weather on the beach. We had a wander through the shops, and then found the infamous Santa Monica pier, and the end of the legendary American highway, Route 66. We walked the full length of the pier, enjoying ice creams and all the activities going on. There were fairground rides, restaurants, shops, entertainers, and even some local fisherman.
Santa Monica beach
The pier was pretty hectic, as was one side of the beach, but we wanted to walk along the opposite, to hunt out Venice and Muscle beach. Rather than walk along the road, we took the scenic route by the sea, admiring the baywatch style lifeguard huts and surf shacks. Early evening was a really nice time to walk along, as the sun began to set over the Pacific Ocean and the pier. Very ‘OC’ and I half expected to see Seth and Summer frolicking alongside us – ha!
Venice beach was a totally different experience. Coming off the palm tree lined beach, was the start of the long promenade that passes Venice beach and Muscle beach. There were a lot of people rollerblading and cycling, which is actually a good way to do it as it is quite far. The best way to describe the goings on along there is ‘weird’. There were so many souvenir shops, selling all sorts of slogan tops, weightlifting vests and trucker hats.
Every now and then there were circus style shows, with all manner of people outside trying to lure you in promising the strangest things like glass walking? People of all sorts of backgrounds and talents could be found along this stretch, tattoo artists, graffiti artists, literally anything. It was a great place to people watch, even if it was slightly intimidating and you never knew who would approach you next. I do remember getting some of the nicest frozen yogurt for the walk along though!
3 Days in LA, Day 2 – Rodeo Drive, Lunch at The Ivy and Shopping
Our second day in LA was by FAR my favourite! We planned a day of shopping on the worlds most famous luxury shopping street, Pretty Woman style, and lunch at The Ivy. We got taxis along, which by the way were double the price, taxi drivers in LA will absolutely charge you more depending on where you’re going, so be warned.
Rodeo Drive was my idea of complete heaven. It was beautiful and clean, lined with palm trees, and home to every designer you could possibly think of, the shop fronts glistening in the sun. Literally heaven.
We spent a long time wandering in and out of the boutiques, having all saved our arses off we wanted to splurge out. Bags were swung around Chanel, and shoes tried on in Jimmy Choo. The salesman in Jimmy Choo showed us the Cinderella glass slipper on display, that was created as part of the hype when the Disney remake came out. The size 4 on display was the exact one Lily James wore to the premier, and being a size 4 he let me try it on. I was in my element.
The Regent Beverly Wilshire
Right at the bottom of Rodeo Drive is the historical Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel, iconic of the film Pretty Woman. Built in 1928 it is very impressive and we couldn’t resist going in for a cocktail in the lounge. It was quite posh, as you would expect, oozing Hollywood glamour and reminded me a lot of the Ritz. A lot of the quirks and decor was still the same as back in the day, old fashioned and so well looked after. It was perfect for a coffee or drink in the lounge, but what we didn’t realise was that when we were there they were celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pretty Woman.
There was a display in the lobby of film props, the script and the fabulous red dress she wore. Having not known about it, it was something we all loved and are so pleased we made the decision to go in. We were given a table in the lounge, and all ordered the Pretty Woman cocktail.
That bad lad was soooo strong! We all left pretty tipsy, having not ate anything, but we had a table booked at the Ivy so after our cocktails we made our way along.
Lunch at The Ivy
We managed to find our way to the Ivy, despite the cocktail strength seriously affecting our sense of direction, and were given a gorgeous little table outside on the terrace. It was the most quaint, beautiful little place, ivy and bright colourful flowers decorating the entire place.
We obviously ordered more cocktails, and finally some food. The menu was very good, and they had my favourite – seafood linguine. I don’t know if it was because I had the alcohol munchies, but that seafood linguine was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was so delicious and even Kris Jenner walking past our table didn’t distract me (too much) from eating the lot.
After we finished, we ordered more cocktails, and sat drinking them for the best part of the afternoon in this gorgeous little place. I think this was the highlight of LA for me, it was in a perfect spot too and we even nipped in and out one at a time to browse the little boutiques nearby. The waiters didn’t mind or rush us off the table, they just kept bringing the cocktails. I honestly can’t remember what the bill came to, but I do remember thinking it was nowhere near as expensive as I expected for a Beverly Hills, Ivy restaurant. I was very pleasantly surprised and no it wasn’t thanks to the drink.
3 Days in LA, Day 3 – The Beverly Hills Hotel, Bel Air and Hollywood Boulevard.
The Beverley Hills Hotel
On our last day in LA we spent the morning having breakfast and sunbathing by the pool at the Mondrian. Once we checked out we had arranged lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel, known for it’s extravagant Oscars after parties and bungalows themed on Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, frequent guests at the hotel back in the day. The taxi driver again took us the ‘scenic’ route, but we didn’t mind so much as we basically got a tour of Bel Air, and the incredible mansions owned by millionaires.
When we finally pulled up at the Beverly Hills, it was exactly how I’d seen in photos. It was a lot more exclusive than the Beverly Wiltshire, hidden away behind lots of trees, and the entranceway was lined with a long red carpet. Once inside the whole hotel was powder pink and pastel green, with the signature palm print also splashed up the walls of some of the corridors.
We were taken through to the Polo lounge, but requested to eat outside on the terrace. Within five minutes of being out there I can see why the rest of the restaurant guests were eating inside in the air con, it was boiling, with no breeze as it is so secluded. Very pretty, especially the private booths at the back that I’ve seen on Kourtney Kardashians snapchat story, but soooooo hot. We persevered though, determined to get used to the heat before Vegas, and ordered a lot of iced water and a lot of cocktails. The food was delicious, and it was such a beautiful spot, similar to the Ivy.
After lunch we asked the hotel staff if we could have a look around the hotel, it was one of those places we just weren’t sure if we could, as it was very posh, and signs up asking to be respectful of guests privacy. We were told we were free to roam, so we had a wander around, the gift shop, the outside relaxing areas, all decorated in powder pink and green. My favourite area was the pool and poolside bar. The loungers were green and white stripes, with pink umbrellas. It really was old school Hollywood. The only area we couldn’t go take a look at were the private bungalows. The hotel did however have information on display about them, and the thinking behind each of their decor, all inspired by famous guests of the past. The Frank Sinatra bungalow even comes with grand piano!
After lunch we had time to kill before our flight, and while Dani and Tilly made their way back to the hotel, Jess and I decided we couldn’t visit LA without seeing the Hollywood walk of fame. We got a taxi along to Hollywood Boulevard, and had a wander along. To be honest, the street itself was more like the type of LA I’d heard about, it was very touristy, and a bit rough around the edges. We had fun searching for famous Hollywood stars, until we found Marilyn Monroe’s – right outside McDonalds! We walked past the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd, where the premier for Everest was being set up, and had our photos taken with a giant gold Oscar statue.
After the walk of fame we walked into the shopping centre, which had big promises of the best view of the Hollywood sign in the hills. We found it, and it was a good view, but I think I still prefer the view from Runyon Canyon. This was definitely the most touristy part of the trip, and to be honest I probably wouldn’t do it again if I went back to LA. Our experiences enjoying lunch in some of the iconic restaurants was so much more enjoyable than battling the tourist streets of central Hollywood.
Overall, I did really enjoy LA. I loved Rodeo Drive and I loved getting a glimpse into how the other half live, right across the other side of the world. I wouldn’t particularly rush back, and if I did I would probably do everything I’ve said here again, but I’d want to experience more of the nightlife. Jet lag totally affected that side of the trip for me, I’d want to be fully on the time zone for a future visit. I will do full posts on some of the restaurants I’ve mentioned, especially The Ivy, and a photo post on Rodeo Drive so expect those too!
Have you been to LA, what did you think?
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