‘Riot House’ No More: A Review Of The Andaz, LA’s Coolest Hotel

pool andaz hotel west hollywood riot houseI’m a budget traveler who has spent more time in dives with droopy mattresses than luxury hotels with spa treatments that cost more than Suriname’s annual GDP. So on the rare occasions when I get to stay someplace truly swanky – usually when the Priceline roulette wheel shines favorably on me or if I’m accompanying my wife on a business trip – I sometimes feel a bit like Jed Clampett arriving with Hillbilly family in tow in Beverly Hills.

Did I shave that day? Is my car the cheapest one on the premises? How much do I need to give the bellboy who is charging over to open my car door? I had this same fish-out-of-water feeling when we pulled up to the Andaz, a luxury hotel in West Hollywood that is part of the Hyatt chain last week. But the place turned out to be very different than any other fancy hotel I’ve ever stayed in.


andaz hotel west hollywoodFor starters, the young man who opened our car door and took care of our suitcases was our one-stop check-in person. After loading our suitcases on a trolley, he escorted us into the sleek, dimly lit lobby, checked us in himself and then brought us up to the room as though we were at a small B & B.

“Now everything in the minibar except the alcohol is free,” he said to my surprise and puzzlement. “So all the soft drinks, bottles of water and snacks are free.”

I asked him to repeat that because I’ve never heard of a free minibar before and I didn’t want to get a bill for a $9 bag of chips, but I’d heard him right. The Andaz also has free wireless Internet and serves good, free California wines from 5-7 p.m. each night. Before I gush about this place a bit more, I should point out that unlike many “reviews” of luxury hotels, this is not a paid endorsement or quid-pro-quo deal. At Gadling, we do not write about free press trips or accept other free travel perks, so you can trust the integrity of our reviews.

andaz west hollywoodOur double room was stylishly decorated and had a curtained off little section in the back with a love seat, comfy chair and Ottoman. My kids immediately claimed this area as their clubhouse, but it was also useful for my wife and I after the kids went to bed.

The hotel was renovated and turned into an Andaz property, one of just nine around the world, in 2009. Gene Autry once owned the hotel and in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, it was known as the Riot House because rock stars used to routinely trash their rooms. John Bonham reportedly once rode his motorcycle down the hotel corridors, Keith Richards once dropped a television set from his room out onto Sunset Boulevard, and Jim Morrison lived there until he was evicted for hanging out a window by his fingertips.

Those days are long gone, but recording artists still patronize the place. A big contingent of Brits including the singer Laura Mvula was there during our stay. And they still play great music in the lobby – I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to The Smiths at any other hotel I’ve ever stayed at besides this one.

andaz hotel west hollywoodThe Andaz has everything you might expect in a luxury hotel: incredibly comfortable beds, high-quality toiletries and linens, plus a very nice rooftop pool that offers lovely views of the area. We found the Sunset Boulevard location to be convenient but thanks to the notorious L.A. traffic, it can take a lot longer to get around than you might think.

And now for a few niggling complaints. No hotel is perfect and that includes the Andaz. I found the free wireless to be extremely slow at times and when I called down to inquire I was transferred to an off-site tech support person who suggested I pay a premium to get better speed. No thanks. The valet parking is $32 per night (there is no self-park option), which isn’t exactly a bargain and the sumptuous buffet breakfast is strictly expense account territory at $26 a head.




view from rooftop pool andaz west hollywoodBut you don’t come to a luxurious hotel like this one to pinch pennies, you’re there for a treat and the Andaz certainly is one. Aside from the free snacks, soft drinks and wine, my other favorite perk was the selection of free newspapers. I’m an old-school hard copy newspaper reader and the fact that the Andaz was willing to deliver copies of the New York Times, the L.A. Times and the Wall Street Journal right to my doorstop made me very happy indeed. On my last night at the Andaz, our neighbors stumbled back to their room at 2 a.m. and commenced a noisy party worthy of the hotel’s glory Riot House days. At the time, I was annoyed but in retrospect, it was a fitting end to a memorable stay.

[Photo credits: Dave Seminara, Traveling Otter, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and FiskFisk on Flickr]

Hotel News We Noted: November 10, 2012

secrets the vine cancunIt’s official, and hopefully you’re not too blue about it. We’re in for four more years of President Obama, but that doesn’t mean Washington (hotels) are any less excited about inauguration. We’ve been tracking what our favorite properties are doing to prepare, but also what’s going on in the hotel world at large for this week’s “Hotel News We Noted.”

As always, send us questions and comments via email, and don’t forget that our annual Black Friday / Cyber Monday roundup is fast approaching. If you know of a great deal, sent it out way.

Hotel Openings: The James Miami, Four Seasons Beijing, Kukui’ula Club Cottages, Andaz Amsterdam
It’s a big week in the world of hotel openings! Here are the highlights:

  • The James has expanded their brand to the hot, hot, hot Miami with the opening this week of The James Royal Palm. The renovated property (formerly The Royal Palm) will join The James’ brand of boutique hotels in New York and Chicago.
  • Prefer something a bit more exotic? Four Seasons has opened their first hotel in China’s capital this week. The 313-room property is close enough to be useful to downtown business travelers and leisure guests seeking access to China’s many cultural attractions too.
  • We’ve had our eye on Hawaii for some time now, as airfare from the East Coast has been unusually affordable. On our next visit, we’re excited to check out the new Kukui’ula Club Cottages on Kaua’i, 15-single family cottages right next to the main Plantation House. Hello, if the President rents a private home while in Hawaii, why shouldn’t we?
  • Hyatt’s most hip brand just got a bit cooler, thanks to the opening of the new Andaz Amsterdam. What makes it a haute hotel opening? Awesome art (think in-room video art installations), a bicycle repair shop on-site (the city’s first) and a new step forward for the brand, as it’s the first Andaz in mainland Europe.

Hotel of the Week: Secrets The Vine Cancun

It takes a lot for us to express a desire to visit Cancun, a city better known for spring break than relaxing resort vacations. We’re intrigued by the new Secrets The Vine Cancun, an upscale take on the all-inclusive option. The adults-only resort is inspired (as The Vine name suggests) by wine, and includes a bar with 3,000 wine varietals, sommelier-led classes and tastings, wine-inspired spa menus and private chefs dinners. It’s not a trip to France, but it’s still pretty cool.

Happening Hotel Package: Bond, James Bond at Trump Toronto
In celebration of Toronto’s special “Designing 007: Fifth Years of Bond Style” exhibit and the newest Bond film, “Skyfall,” Trump Toronto has launched a totally over-the-top package we’re dying to try. The $17,007 “Shaken Not Stirred: Bond on Bay” package includes a two-night stay in an Executive Suite on the hotel’s 30th floor, offering fantastic downtown views, access to a Continental Bentley GT for duration of stay, all meals, including dinner with champagne at STOCK™ Restaurant Bar & Lounge for two for the duration of the stay, admission for two to the exhibition and two movie passes to a Bond film at TIFF Bell Lightbox, as well return limousine service, designer cocktail dress and Hugo Boss tuxedo with private fitting at The Room, courtesy of The Hudson’s Bay Company, a spa experience at Quartz Crystal Spa™ that includes a couples massage, hair and makeup for her and manicure for him, a martini “Shaken not Stirred” lesson at Suits Lobby Lounge and an in-room bespoke chocolate from the Chocolate Lab at STOCK Restaurant Bar & Lounge, as well as complimentary fruit and cigar box. Stays are available through January 20 using code PKG007.

[Image Credit: Secrets The Vine Cancun]

Hotel News We Noted: September 14, 2012

andaz napa exteriorTemperatures are getting cooler, but the hotel scene is still hot, hot, hot. Here’s your news of the week, courtesy of “Hotel News We Noted.

Hotel Openings: Andaz Napa
Wine country is getting a bit cooler this week with the opening of the Andaz Napa, formerly the Avia Napa. The downtown hotel has the traditional Andaz lobby as well as a cheeky wall-long map of Napa – all the better to help you map out your wine tasting adventure.

Tech Troubles: What Happens to Hotel iPod Docks?
iHome and iPod docking systems have become nearly ubiquitous in hotels around the country, and the release this week of the new iPhone 5 is causing some major headache in the hotel industry. It’s not because they’ll have to update apps or re-vamp websites (although they likely will, in order to match new screen resolutions and the new operational updates) but because of a change in equipment. The new phones will have a different charging port, and hotels are now scrambling to figure out how soon, if at all, they’ll need to have these adapters onsite to connect to their docking stations. A Wall Street Journal article supposes that these adapters “could soon replace bathrobes as the hotel collectible of choice.” At nearly $30 a pop, we’re inclined to agree. Why, Apple, why???

Food & Beverage: Fairmont Gets Saucy
Fairmont is putting the focus on food, encouraging their chefs to get in with the craft food movement. We’re pretty sure that means good things for us, at least for those of us who don’t count on being able to steal the mini-bottles of Heinz from in-room dining. Is there a theme of theft in this column? Perhaps. Anyway, at Fairmont Pacific Rim, expect house-made condiments (Sake Kasu Cream Cheese Aioli, anyone?) and pickled veggies, Empress peanut butter with honey and milk chocolate at the Fairmont Princess or peanut miso with local Virginia peanuts at the Fairmont DC. In this case, being “saucy” sounds like a very delicious thing.

Celebrity Hotels: Gordon Ramsay Does Hotel Design?
Answer: only when he’s getting paid to do so. Celebrity chef turned television personality turned suite designer Gordon Ramsay has launched his very first room at San Diego’s Keating Hotel. Dubbed the “Victory Suite,” the room is really more of a promo ad for his series, “Hotel Hell,” but it’s pretty darn awesome nevertheless. The suite features exposed brick walls, vaulted ceilings and glass-encased bathrooms. The hotel and suite will appear on a future episode of the series, where Ramsay redesigned the lobby, the Victory Suite and also offered up a new menu for the hotel’s MerK Bistro. Thanks to Elite Traveler for the tip.

Get Ready For The Olympics With Andaz’s World Food Marathon

andaz liverpool streetWhile the Olympic Games are associated with international sports, Andaz Liverpool Street in London will be focusing on international food during the weeks leading up to the big event.

The five-star luxury hotel will be looking to staff members of its four Andaz restaurants – 1901, Catch, Eastway and Miyako – to help create the menu. Pulling from the 40 different nationalities that represent the Andaz Liverpool Street team, 26 unique cultural dishes were created. This number isn’t random, as it embodies the 26 miles in a marathon. The tasty festival will run from July 2 to July 27, the 26 days leading up to the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Some of the dishes attendees can expect include Korean Spicy Pork, Polish Golabki, Slovakian sheep’s cheese dumplings, Colombian bandeja paisa and South African Bobotie.

“With all eyes on London this year as the 2012 Olympic season gathers momentum, Andaz Liverpool Street wanted to pay tribute to the multicultural base of the city with a variety of dishes from around the world, which celebrate different cultures, allowing our guests to take a journey of the culinary kind through what we have called the World Food Marathon,” says Arnaud de Saint Exupéry, the Andaz Liverpool Street General Manager.

Andaz Wall Street wants to help you with your taxes

Get help with your taxes from the Andaz Wall Street Someone on Wall Street wants to help you. No, really. The Andaz Wall Street has announced that it wants to help its guests with their taxes – free of charge.

From April 8 through the 15, Andaz guests, many of whom are time-pressed business travelers, will be able to take advantage of the services of Mr. Marc Albaum, who will live at the New York City hotel as its Accountant in Residence. The certified public accountant with more than 20 years of experience will set up shop for one week in the Buttonwood Suite, the Andaz Wall Street’s premier guest room, which features separate areas for working and living quarters, two 42″ LCD televisions and nine-foot windows with views of the East River. Andaz Wall Street guests can reserve a free, one-hour consultation with Albaum by sending an email to accountant@andaz.com at least 72 hours prior to the desired appointment time.

While Albaum can’t prepare guests’ tax forms in full – appointments are only an hour, after all – his goal is “to ensure that his clients do not overlook credits and deductions, and receive the maximum refund they are entitled to.” Ideally, Andaz guests who meet with Albaum will aspire to book the Buttonwood Suite on future visits to Wall Street hotel. Let’s hope their refunds are equal to or greater than $3,045, the average current rate for a stay in the Buttonwood Suite.

Photo Flickr/Dave Dugdale