On my first trip to Los Angeles my friends and I stayed in a hotel that didn’t really make an impression. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you which hotel it was, but what I do remember from that trip is going for a drink at the Sky Bar in The Mondrian and wishing I was staying there.
Flash forward more than ten years and I’m giving a little squeal of excitement as I put my bags down in the entrance hall to my room and find that wish coming true. As I step into the room and start to explore I find myself falling more in love everywhere I look.
I love the chandelier that glints a welcome as you enter, I love the lounge area with its gorgeous day bed that’s just begging for a back to mine hotel party, I love the kooky hand on the mirrored tray, I love the big beckoning bed, I love the kitchen area and mini bar packed with booze and chocolatey goodness, I love the shape of the bathroom mirror, the waterfall shower that I just know is going to feel amazing, and the Malin + Goetz bath products, I love the floor to ceiling windows looking out onto Sunset Boulevard and beyond. And I’m oh so in love with the Magic Mirror style TV that I’m trying to decide if I can recreate it at home. Yes, if you can’t tell by now, I love it.
A West Hollywood institution, the Mondrian is famous for being a playground for the famous, as well as those on their way up and down that slippery slope. The night I stayed I know of at least one Hollywood star who was also under the same roof. I shan’t name names but let’s just say he is a heartthrob who had a new release and was making headlines, and yes, I did hope that he got in the same lift with me so that I could embellish my story (he did not).
This Hollywood star also happens to live close by. But when you’re talking about the Mondrian it doesn’t matter if you’ve flown in from Sydney or driven up the road, people just want to stay here.
Having a room upstairs certainly makes life easier when you’re hanging by the Sky Bar. Firstly, if you’re not someone whose face has adorned one of the billboards on Sunset Boulevard you don’t have to worry about knowing the right people, having the right look or being on the list to be able to walk right in. This is the sort of bar where some people may get a room just to guarantee the chance to sit by this pool and watch the LA lights twinkle at sunset.
Even if you are the sort of person who could waltz right in, knowing there’s a gorgeous room upstairs means no need to worry about how you’re going to get home as you enjoy cocktails and people watching by the pool. Home is but an elevator ride away so you can kick back and relax.
And relax people do. The pool isn’t the biggest around but it sure is pretty to look at, and for those brave enough to strip down to their swimwear in front of this crowd, it also has underwater speakers so you don’t miss a beat when you put your head underwater.
It was Philippe Starck’s designs that first dazzled people when the Mondrian opened its thirty-foot high mahogany doors in 1996, and it was this version of the hotel that I first fell in love with.
In 2008 The Morgans Hotel Group commissioned Benjamin Noriega Oritz to breathe new life into the Mondrian, and as much as I hated the idea of anyone messing with what Starck created, I have to admit I was wrong. Noriega Oritz is a genius.
As Noriega Oritz said at the time, “The design of the hotel is so adored in the industry that I’ve heard the word Mondrian used as an adjective. I didn’t want to eradicate Philippe Starck’s original vision, I wanted to build on it; I wanted to enhance it.”
And that he did. The only extra touch I could add to this hotel is a simple thing that so many American hotels don’t have and in my opinion all need. It wasn’t until the next morning that I found myself in the grip of a first world problem. My stunning hotel room didn’t have a kettle or mugs for tea.
It had one of the best stocked mini bars I’ve ever seen, with extras from adaptors to shaving products, even pop tarts (though no toaster to pop them in, I soon realised… is there a Hollywood pop tart trick that I’m missing?).
I’m told Americans like to go out for coffee. That may be so, but I love to start the day with a cup of tea in bed. When I called the reception asking if there was a kettle hidden somewhere (as hairdryers can so often be) they explained that they didn’t have one in the room but they’d send one up right away. Within minutes I had a kettle, and was happily sipping a cup of tea in bed looking out over a new day in Los Angeles and my world was set to rights.
And then I realised I had a much bigger problem. I had to check out that day, and leave my Mondrian bubble behind.
I won’t lie. It was one of the harder hotels to check out of but it’s okay. I made a wish in the magic TV mirror and I have a feeling I’ll be back one day, and this time it will be for a much longer stay.
Visit my Falling in Love with Los Angeles story for more LA travel tips.