West Hollywood Weekend
If L.A. is tops, and there are many who think it is, West Hollywood is over the top. Perhaps it's this hamlet's proximity to Beverly Hills or its very own Sunset Strip...or maybe it's the never-ending procession of starlets that crowd the town's boutique-lined streets. Whatever the case, West Hollywood is hip, happening and a hoot of a place to visit. Here's how to do it in style.
Where to stay: The Bel Age Hotel is a venerable property mere steps away from the Sunset Strip If you want to be in the heart of the action, this is it. You're likely to rub elbows with a rocker or two in the lobby while you're here or a mogul-in-the-making at the rooftop pool. If that's not enough, your room will be ultra-spacious and well-amenitized. Ask for a city view and be sure to visit the hotel's gym if you want to look as good as everyone else. The Bel Age Hotel, 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood (310) 854-1111. Double rooms average $250 during the busy summer months.
Where to eat: You won't have to go far for a great meal if you're staying at the Bel Age. Step into the elevator, press "L" and make your way to Diaghilev, a Russo-Franco gem where maitre 'd Dmitri will make you feel like a czar and chef Andreas Nieto serves up refined (and inspired) cuisine. Don't miss the salmon and sturgeon mousse in puff pastry, a singular dish. At Asia de Cuba, the food is far less interesting but the scene is unbelievable. Be sure to look good, since everyone else will. Patina is where chef Joachim Splichal garners rave reviews while Lucques, on trendy Melrose Avenue, spotlights the food of up-and-coming chef Suzanne Goin. Morning eats are great fun at Nate 'n Al's , an old-time deli in Beverly Hills, while a java jones can be cured at the Coffee Bean (locations in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood -- order an ice-blended drink for the best sip).
What to do: In a city as big as L.A., there are more options than you can shake a stick at. Shake your booty by walking all over town, the best way to get a feel for the area's proceedings. Head for Beverly Hills first and ogle the shops and shoppers alike. If you're not careful, you'll spend a bundle while you're here -- and love every minute of it. The Museum of Television and Radio, also in Beverly Hills, is a good stop for nostalgia buffs of any age. More cruising and perusing can be done along the Sunset Strip and Melrose Avenue, two of West Hollywood's more interesting shopping/dining/gawking districts. The L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA to the locals) has an excellent collection and many roving exhibits (Diego Rivera is in the house during the summer of '99) while the Getty Museum up the road has the best art all the time thanks to J. Paul's millions.
A little bit more: Santa Monica is a great escape for fresh air and haze-free sunshine. Have brunch at Shutters on the Beach while you're here, but only after you've biked the miles-long boardwalk. Joe's on the Beach, on Venice Beach a few miles south of Santa Monica, is another good choice for brunch or the PM meal.
There's a lot more to do in L.A. and environs but you'll have to read the story to find out!
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