‘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]

New Los Angeles hotel, Mr. C., opens in April

The Cipriani Family, most famous for running New York’s established Rainbow Room since 1999, just announced it will open a new luxury Los Angeles hotel called simply, Mr. C.

Slated to open in the spring of this year, Mr. C will be a 138-room boutique hotel with 12 suites, all ranging from 365-800 square feet. Each room comes with a private balcony and many have panoramic views of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. The hard wood flooring, burgundy and grey color palettes combined with dark wood accents add a bit of mystique to the stylish interior of the hotel. Vintage black and white film photography lines the walls and rooms, playing on Los Angeles’ iconic and historical moments.

los angeles hotel

The hotel will also have five multi-level, residential-sized bungalows averaging approximately 3,000 square feet, each with a private garden, gourmet kitchen, plunge pool and views of Beverly Hills. Each bungalow will feature all the Mr. C amenities, including spa treatments, housekeeping, and room service from the signature Mr. C restaurant.

The hotel restaurant, under the same name, will feature classic dishes from Cipriani alongside grilled specialties and pizzas. The restaurant will offer indoor and outdoor seating, a separate entrance for non-hotel guests, and two private rooms for more intimate occasions. Mr. C will also feature an outdoor pool for hotel guests only and indoor/outdoor private event space boasting 360-degree panoramic city views from the 12th floor of the hotel, with a private exterior glass elevator.

Our prediction: Mr. C. might just be the new see-and-be-seen locale in L.A. for 2011.

Body parts found in backpack in Los Angeles hotel

los angeles hotelWhat was a typical day for a housekeeper in a Los Angeles hotel turned into a real life nightmare. During a routine cleaning of a room at the Continental Hotel in Los Angeles, a housekeeper picked up a backpack left behind in a guest room and found body parts.

The Los Angeles Times reports the body of 49-year-old Herbert White was found on Nov. 29 and was “cut up into five different parts – basically his limbs were removed.” According to the paper, a Pennsylvania couple have been charged with heinous crime. The Los Angeles district attorney issued a warrant for the couple’s arrest, charging them with capital murder involving torture.

The hotel is located in LA’s ‘skid row’ neighborhood. A security guard was called the night of presumed murder because of “commotion in the room.” When the guard went to the room, the couple promised they’d keep quiet.

Additional body parts were found wrapped in blankets underneath the bed, and a knife was found in the hotel room, the paper says. Continental Hotel representatives declined to comment.

[via USA Today]

Daily Pampering: Stylecations at the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles

Aly ScottThe Ritz-Carlton has enlisted StyleChic‘s Aly Scott (pictured) to bring you a truly “Hollywood” getaway experience complete with a personal style consultation, exclusive shopping privileges and plenty of champagne.

According to a rep from the hotel, “Where do I shop?” is one of the most commonly asked questions at the front desk. Aly can certainly help with that, and help you hone your own style — whether you’re preparing for a special event or just looking for a great girlfriends or mother-daughter getwaway.

The custom packages from the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles are the “Red Carpet Getaway” and the “Stylecation”:

Red Carpet Getaway (from $3,000 double occupancy or $2,500 single occupancy)

  • Guaranteed early check-in and late check-out
  • Two nights deluxe overnight accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles
  • Club Lounge access; enjoy complimentary beverages and continuous culinary offerings throughout your stay
  • Dinner for two at chef Wolfgang Puck’s award-winning WP24 Restaurant & Lounge
  • Pre-arrival consultation with Aly Scott, founder of StyleChic
  • Six hour customized StyleChic experience with Aly Scott
  • Choice of $100 Spa Credit or 60 minute personal training session
  • Personalized welcome amenity hand-selected by StyleChic

Stylecation (from $1,800 double occupancy or $1,200 single occupancy)

  • Guaranteed early check-in and late check-out
  • Overnight deluxe overnight accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles
  • Dinner for two at chef Wolfgang Puck’s WP24 Restaurant & Lounge
  • Three hour personalized StyleChic experience with Aly Scott
  • Choice of $100 Spa Credit or 60 minute personal training session
  • Personalized welcome amenity hand-selected by StyleChic

Both packages include a custom StyleChic itinerary tailored to you. Need some ideas? How about a champagne welcome in the newly opened VIP terrace lounge at Tods on Rodeo Drive? A private, white glove atelier service appointment with a high fashion fine jeweler known for his work with Beyonce, Rihanna and Zoe Saldana? You can also visit a custom couture atelier, have lunch at The Ivy, meet up and coming designers, hit the back room of an appointment-only vintage boutique and more, all chauffeured around in a private town car, of course.

We love these packages because they are designed to make you feel like a star — after all, who would want to fly to LA for a quick night or two to shop? Celebrities. They’re just like us.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Garden Court Hotel’s $9 million renovation reforms the ‘staycation’ concept

The Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto is hoping more Californians stay local.

Now that the $9 million renovation is complete, the Garden Court Hotel is hosting a special ‘staycation’ package. Reserve a King Deluxe Suite as part of the “Hometown Tourist Package” for $299 and get the following free amenities:

  • Champagne and Shokolaat Welcome Amenity
  • $50.00 gift certificate for dining at Il Fornaio (choice of dinner or breakfast to only be used during this stay)
  • Valet overnight parking
  • Complimentary wireless Internet connection

In addition, the hotel is offering free upgrades to locals who show their ID at check-in.

As part of the Garden Court Hotel‘s renovation, all the guestrooms have been newly redesigned by Spanish interior designer Pablo Paniagua. The bathrooms were redesigned with white-grey marble that compliments the silver fixtures and dark wood, with deep soaking tubs and rain showers. What’s a new bathroom without some new products? Indulge in Molton Brown luxury bath products and fresh gardenias. In addition, each room features HDTV screens, iDesign Cube Clock Radios for iPods and complimentary wireless Internet access.

The majority of the guestrooms include French doors and private patios that look out onto the open-air tiled floor courtyard and fountains of the hotel. Guestrooms vary in amenities but many feature a separate aerated spa-tub, fireplace and breakfast nook. The penthouse suite offers guests deluxe king accommodations, a bathroom with separate aerated spa-tub, luxurious marble rain shower, an airy living room with private bar, fireplace, fresh flowers and two private landscaped patio gardens with fountain.

Not bad for a night away from home.