Friday, June 21, 2013

Field Trip LA! - The Georgian Hotel

series of posts from visiting interesting little (and large) cafes, food-related establishments and other places of inspiration.

This month we visited Los Angeles, a first for me. It's always invigorating being away from home and noticing things freshly as only visitors tend to do. I'm planning to write a couple of posts based on things I came across during the trip including a wonderful farmers market, two or three bakeriescafes and some musings from visiting a couple of special spaces - which is where we'll start.

When not staying with friends in Riverside, our base was in Santa Monica. We chose to stay at The Georgian Hotel, uniquely done up in aquamarine paint and deck-chair striped awnings and just across the road from the beach. I couldn't quite be sure from photographs online whether it would work or be gaudily hideous but the effect was quite elegant in real life.

I loved even the more kitschy flourishes like the saber-tooth tiger head mouldings above the entrance, with gold teeth. I later read that the said beasts roamed the plains of what became Southern California 10,000-40,000 years ago and enjoyed the decorations more.

Check out those gnashers!
The Georgian is a short walk from a big shopping street called 3rd Street Promenade, which we wandered along on our first evening somewhat dazed from the long flight just as it was in full Saturday night swing with buskers every few metres. Wednesday and Saturday mornings an amazing farmers market opens also nearby, and it's also a short walk to the pier with its rides and restaurants.

The hotel was built in the 1930's before Santa Monica was very developed and served as a bit of a hideaway from Hollywood attracting the likes of Clark Gable and Carol Lombard. According to the notice near the lift, the property was refurbished in the 1960's as a set of upscale long-term apartments, and more recently returned to life as a hotel in 2000.

Not that the notice near the lift or the hotel information book (which I devour eagerly upon closing the door for the first time and flopping onto the bed at any hotel I stay, I'm not very classy) tells you, but there is a real prohibition-era speakeasy under the hotel! Well, it's not an operational bar any more, but it still looks the part with all the leather booths and someone can take you down to see it if you ask nicely.

AND, as if that isn't enough, the speakeasy is "haunted." :) We didn't witness any visitations during our quick peek, but the dim lights and slightly damp smell juxtaposed with a somewhat of a threadbare boardroom vibe made for an unusual atmosphere. :) I wonder what it would be like with music and people down there for a party?

Away from the speakeasy, through the low basement corridor and back upstairs then you're at the lobby and the entrance-way which is surrounded by a veranda restaurant where you can look across to the sea and enjoy the sunset with a cocktail (they have a prohibition cocktail menu - I liked the French 75). Nice place to be.

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