3 brand new Los Angeles hotels (& 3 facelifts)

Ahh. Hotel windows that open at Kimpton's Hotel Wilshire in LA (Chris McGinnis)

Ahh. Hotel windows that open at Kimpton’s Hotel Wilshire in LA (Chris McGinnis)

At TravelSkills, we love new hotels. They smell better, work better, feel better, and are usually bigger, brighter and hipper than others. But new can also have its downside: Construction noise, service issues, and/or locations in sketchy or “upcoming” neighborhoods. Some are so new that TripAdvisor reviews are scant compared to more established hotels. In an ongoing feature, TravelSkills reports on the newest hotels in the world’s most important cities. When we say “newest” we have certain criteria around that: The hotels have to be brand new or deeply renovated within the last few years, 3+ stars and appropriate venues for business travel.

On a recent quick buzz through LA for the Global Business Travel Association Convention, I stayed overnight at the Kimpton Hotel Wilshire near The Grove and LACMA on a somewhat lifeless stretch of Wilshire Boulevard. While the Hotel Wilshire is not brand new (opened in 2011), it sure felt like it. Clean as a whistle, a super cool rooftop pool/bar/restaurant (see my Instagram!), decent rates and windows that actually open. (Hermetically sealed hotel rooms are a pet peeve!) But I digress. I promised 3 brand new hotels, so here ya go…

Here are three newbies worth a look:

Cement walls and big views from the new Line Hotel in LA (Photo: The Line)

Cement walls and big views from the new Line Hotel in LA (Photo: The Line)

K-POP IS HOT. Now that all things Korean are hot (thanks in part to Psy’s Gangnam Style), so is LA’s Koreatown, a densely populated, 24-hour neighborhood between Hollywood and downtown. Smack in the middle of that (on Wilshire Blvd) is the brand new 388-room The Line hotel, which opened in January 2014. The hotel comes with plenty of hip pedigrees—for example it is owned by the same group that created the hip NoMad and Ace hotels in NYC and the Saguaro in Palm Springs; Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ Trucks fame is running the kitchen at the popular Pot restaurant (yes, they serve kim chi, but it’s the spicy pork bbq that’s most popular). The hotel is housed in a 12-story building that previously housed the Radisson Wilshire Plaza hotel, but there’s nothing remotely Radisson about The Line. Rooms are minimalist chic with exposed concrete walls, modern furnishings, pops of color, and expansive LA Basin views thru big floor- to-ceiling windows. Sadly, this is one of those hotels with windows that don’t open. Nice: There’s a metro stop across the street from the hotel, which makes it easy to go car-less if you have meetings downtown. Rates for late September are in the $200 per night range. There are also free wi-fi and free bikes for tooling around the neighborhood.

The ACE hotel is easy to spot due to this sign on its roof (Photo: Lauren Coleman)

The ACE hotel is easy to spot due to this sign on its roof (Photo: Lauren Coleman)

HIPSTER HEAVEN. The 182-room Ace Hotel Los Angeles opened in the downtown historic district in January 2014. It’s housed in the old United Artists Theatre building and attracts a hip and trendy crowd to its rooftop pool, bar and lounge. Rooms are industrial chic (exposed concrete, metal, marble). Bathrooms are (regrettably) the type that are open to the room—not the greatest set up for couples, but okay for single travelers. Thankfully, room windows open slightly. Wi-fi is free and fast for everyone—not just hotel guests. Enjoy curated mini-bar snacks (including local craft brews) and room service from the hotel restaurant LA Chapter (Most popular item is the Five Leaves Burger- grass fed beef patty, thin slices of beet and pineapple, topped with a fried egg. Try it you’ll like it!). The location is great if you are attending an event at the nearly LA Convention Center, Staples Center or LA Live. Lowest rates for late September are in the low $200 range. Having trouble finding it? Just look for the iconic (and ironic) JESUS SAVES beacon on the roof.

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Grab n go meals in the lobby of the combined Courtyard & Residence Inn at LA Live (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Grab n go meals in the lobby of the combined Courtyard & Residence Inn at LA Live (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

MORE MARRIOTT. Marriott has a huge presence in the fast growing (but still a bit gritty) area around LA Live. First, there’s a huge JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton that dominate the entertainment zone. Across the street Marriott just opened a massive and modern Residence Inn (218 rooms) and Courtyard (174 rooms) in the same building last month.The $172-million, 23-story high-rise hotel project is new-from-the-ground up which means there’s still that “new hotel smell” and modern amenities like fast, free wi-fi and windows that open to the great outdoors. There’s a complimentary breakfast buffet for Residence Inn guests; Courtyard guests get coffee only. Beware: Valet parking is $38 per day plus tip. (Advice: Self park in one of the many lots nearby.) Marriott’s not done with the area yet: A brand new Renaissance hotel will soon rise from a parking lot next to the hotel.

In LA, facelifts are popular so it’s important to mention these notable, recent lift and pull jobs! :)

Poolside at the recently revamped Sunset Marquis Hotel (Photo: Sara Emry)

Poolside at the recently revamped Sunset Marquis Hotel (Photo: Sara Emry)

>The popular Sunset Marquis hotel nestled into a quiet corner of West Hollywood has just opened the doors on a full renovation of its popular, big suites (averaging 529 square feet) with outside balconies or roomy patios. 

>Hyatt wants in on the action in downtown LA, too, so it has spent $25 million to update an this 420-room, ex-Marriott hotel and list it on the Hyatt website under the name The LA Hotel Downtown. The jury is still out on TripAdvisor on whether the hotel has reached Hyatt Regency standards.

>Last year Loews Hotels hung its name on the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel (next to the Dolby Theatre of Academy Award fame), renaming it The Loews Hollywood Hotel and has spent $26 million renovating the its 628 rooms– with windows that DO NOT open to the outside. 

What’s your favorite hotel in Los Angeles? Why? Please leave your recommendations below! 

–Chris McGinnis

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  • Hajime Sano

    Hi Chris, thanks for the new hotel update. Here is an update on the formerly Radisson LAX.

    I often stay at the Radisson LAX if I have a morning flight. It is better than driving cross-town from home during morning rush hour traffic. I booked that hotel through the Club Carlson web site a few weeks ago, in anticipation of my Tuesday morning flight this week. Upon arrival Monday night, the hotel looked different. I found out that the previous week, ownership had changed at it was now The Concourse Hotel at Los Angeles Airport.

    To say that it was going through transition pains is charitable. What used to be a nice, serviceable hotel was utter chaos. I hope the new ownership group gets things under control soon, as the poor employees were doing their best under confusing circumstances.

    Long waits to park and check-in. No baggage carts available. The room smelled of mildew and mold. Two soap dispensers in the shower that were both empty. Two sleep number beds with controls that didn’t work- one super hard, one super soft. An alarm clock that was either broken (no power) or plugged into a power outlet that didn’t work. A towel rack that was coming off the wall. Also, no complimentary elite upgrade and probably no credit towards elite status, with no warning or notice from the hotel.