Hulking above Hollywood and Vine, the historic centre of the movie business, is the W Hollywood, a layer cake of a building - not that anyone eats cake in this town. While tomorrow’s aspiring starlets posture in the lobby, the leading ladies of yesterday (Lana, Audrey, etc.), are memorialized just outside on the Walk of Fame, which turns 50 this year. A red carpet connects the Boulevard to the hotel, beckoning guests and curious tourists to slip inside the lobby for a cup of rose-petal-infused water and hopefully a glimpse of someone worth texting home about.
The W Hollywood lobby
W’s reputation as a design pioneer was earned by bringing the downtown glamour of “boutique hotels” to the masses and the formula hasn’t changed much. The lobby - the Living Room in W-speak - is decorated handsomely with a modern black-leather take on the classic chesterfield, egregiously oversized chandelier, faux-python pillows and fashionable coffee-table books. Heartfelt it’s not, but it ticks off enough boxes to pass for cool with the clientele. Unlike many hotels, the rooms score far better than the public spaces, offering thoughtful layouts and touches that make travelling feel less taxing.
The W Hollywood pool — worth looking longingly at
The in-room guest guide offers a translation page for W lingo. SWEAT is the gym, WET is the pool, Bliss is the spa and so on. The latter is a well-earned favourite in every W market - book early - but the in-room Bliss toiletries are a nice consolation and worth clearing your dopp kit for. The rooftop pool, WET, is one of most alluring in town and unfortunately for guests, the word is out. On weekends, the spot is taken over by a pool party thrown by Drai’s, a famed nightlife entrepreneur that runs 20,000 square feet of the hotel’s upper floors. It’s bottle-service only (starting at $500 each) and I was informed I’d have to rent a cabana ($500 day) to enjoy a sip. Drai’s also operates the cabanas on weekdays. I was asked to scoot at 9 a.m. on a Monday despite only three guests at the pool. The business centre was outfitted with Macs and PCs, but seemed a 10-minute commute from the rooms. The printer was down on Monday morning, though the lobby staff offered to print documents in the meantime. A reservation may not buy you pool time or a pseudo-office, but it can get you “on the list.” The DJ duo Groove Armada played a long set in the courtyard, a bonus when viewed from a third-floor window seat like mine.
Rooms and suites go by pseudonyms: The suites are Fantastic, Marvelous, Wow and E-Wow; and the standard rooms are Wonderful, Spectacular and Fabulous. The rooms are nearly identical in size (around 350 square feet) and style. My room (Spectacular, from $250) was as chic as a nightclub, with a mod pendant lamp, white leather mid-century desk chair, slick lacquer desk, a curvaceous lounge chair and a very low platform bed. And the aesthetics only added to the comfort. Case in point: a gun-metal metallic leather daybed with ample pillows made use of the window space and was a great perch for watching the action in the courtyard and outdoor bar, Station Hollywood. The room offered ample space for working, ironing and prepping. A gadget-charging station and myriad options for mood lighting were unexpected delights. Most crucial: The bed was downright dreamy. One oddity was the marketing swag, such as the figurine of an Acura advertising the hotel’s partnership with the car maker (it offers guests complimentary rides along with questionnaires to rate the experience). And then there was the merchandising - the exposed mini-bar bottles and large water bottle were all tagged with prices - $9 for the latter.
The staff was friendly and a laid-back; acceptable for pleasure-seeking guests, but not what you would want on your team during the workweek. A request to the concierge for an area map was denied (I was given a sponsored map of L.A. shopping streets) and countered with, “What are you looking for? There’s not that much around here.” (There’s lots. Plus the hotel sits atop a subway station that drops you downtown in 15 minutes.) A more competent staffer delivered me a hot cup of coffee minutes after I alerted the front desk that the lobby carafes were empty.
Food and drink
Proximity to Delphine, the onsite French-Mediterranean brasserie, was worth the stay. The East Coast - and Europe - have these casual, everything-to-everyone restaurants in spades, but they’re new here. This one sets a stellar example with terrific seafood, like whole grilled fish (chef Sascha Lyon helmed some of New York’s definitive brasseries) and a gorgeous room designed by Mark Zeff, with a seaside palette and swaths of tile and cerused oak that are a welcome break from the aggressively designed lobby. Having Delphine in-house means local friends or clients will come to you for dinner, and solo travellers can enjoy a 7 a.m. breakfast of Delphine granola with berries and Greek yogurt ($10). That’s on the room service menu, too, but, with taxes and fees, it’s $18.
Hit and miss. There are bright spots for those who can overlook spotty service. Better bet: Forgo the surprises and enjoy the hotel à la carte with lobby cocktails, Delphine dinner - and a pool party if you can afford it.
6250 Hollywood Blvd.; (323) 798-1300; 305 rooms, starting at $249
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