Hotel Review: JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton wake up downtown L.A.

L.A. LIVE – the sports and entertainment complex that envelops the Nokia Theater and STAPLES Center – is hoping to change the way people view downtown Los Angeles. Thanks to the stadiums, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping and outdoor pavilions that opened in October 2007, downtown Los Angeles was revived with a faint heartbeat. Now, two new hotels are opening their doors in an effort to wake up the district and give people a reason to spend the night in downtown L.A.

The J.W. Marriott Hotel Los Angeles and Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles make up the $2.5 billion building in heart of the L.A. LIVE complex, boasting 1,001 rooms total (878 rooms in the J.W. Marriott and 123 rooms at the Ritz-Carlton and Ritz-Carlton Residences). While the hotels share the space as part of the luxury brand’s global portfolio, the two brands maintain their individuality in design and style.

J.W. Marriott hotel designers took advantage of the lobby’s open frame. The neutral colors on the walls and rugs are contrasted with modern furniture in reds, purples and animal prints, emphasizing the enormous space while still giving travelers a comfortable place to rest upon arrival. A few steps past the check-in counter, however, and you’re transported to a futuristic display of lights, mirrors and lots of action.

The hotel is home to one of L.A.’s newest dining destinations, L.A. Market. The full-service restaurant created by the “Rock-n-Roll” celebrity chef Kerry Simon is sourced from organic, sustainable and local sources, and combines his flare for everyday foods with his bold personality. The sushi pizza is a favorite of hotel employees, and Simon’s signature burgers are worth every bite. The Mixing Room – located across the lobby from the restaurant – takes guests on a mixology escapade of signature cocktails and cosmic creations in an all white-and-gold furnished space with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Nokia Plaza.

The J.W. Marriott guest rooms occupy floors 4-12 and are substantial in size and stature. There’s a 4000-square-foot fitness center and a pool for those who want to soak in the California sun. While guests of the J.W. Marriott have access to the Ritz-Carlton’s 8000-square-foot spa, some areas of the hotel remain exclusive to Ritz-Carlton clientele.If the J.W. Marriott is the meeting space of L.A. LIVE’s grand collection, the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE is the area’s exclusive retreat.

In contrast to the J.W. Marriott’s bold lobby design, the Ritz-Carlton entrance is dimly lit from a Swarvoski crystal chandelier set against deep mahogany wood. Recognizable on the outside by its glass facade, one of the most mesmerizing parts of the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, is its variations in the color of blue glass on every floor. Symbolic of the ocean or the sky (depending on how you like to view hues of blue), the LEED-certified structure almost looks as if its draped in diamonds when viewed from the right angle. Guests of the Ritz-Carlton have exclusive rights to the 3,400-square foot Club Lounge, rooftop pool and private fitness center.

Ritz-Carlton’s 123 guest rooms and private residences are located on the upper floors of the building but the pièce de résistance of this gem is the 24th floor restaurant, which offers views of Los Angeles from every table. During my tour of the hotel, a private dining area and wine cave were under construction, but will open in time for its first guests on April 2.

The outdoor pool on the 26th floor is also exclusive to Ritz-Carlton guests and comes shaded with cabanas and a rooftop bar and restaurant. If you’ve ever wondered what Los Angeles looks like from above, this is the spot to be.

While it’s likely you’ll be visiting the hotels as a guest, it’s worth noting the building’s gargantuan meeting space. With almost 100,000-square-feet at its disposal, the hotel is primed for conferences and events of all sizes.

The J.W. Marriott is currently open to guests, and the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles will take its first reservations on April 2. Spending time in downtown LA just got a little more exciting.