There is something for everyone in Los Angeles, from historic hotels and retro diners to Santa Monica's buzzing beach life and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hollywood studios
Los Angeles is such a wonderful place to visit, and you can’t help but get caught up in all the excitement. Whether it’s to do with the shopping, the food, the beaches, or just the aura surrounding the relaxed Californian lifestyle, LA is certain to provide an unforgettable holiday experience.
Los Angeles is home to the movie industry of Hollywood - and that is exactly where we started our family road trip. We were staying in the historic Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, where, in 1929, Marilyn Monroe shot her first advert by the pool. My first impressions were that it seems surprisingly modern considering its history. It feels very hip and edgy, and seems to attract a variety of different ages. The rooms are spacious and also have a modern feel to them; they have cream walls with a dark brown wall behind the bed to break up the dynamic of the room. The beds are queen size with extremely comfortable cream bedspreads and, continuing with the modern chic feel, there's a stylised black-and-white image of a man lying on the bonnet of a car hanging on the wall behind the bed. The room comes with a mini bar stocked with many delights such as cookies, fizzy drinks, alcohol, and a few rather bizarre additions like purple crisps. There's also a big flat screen TV and a CD player.
The only time I visited the hotel restaurant was for breakfast but the food was wonderful and fairly priced. The breakfast menu includes things like banana, walnut and maple syrup waffles (which I highly recommend) and huevos rancheros, a Mexican dish with beans and eggs. The pool has a blue squiggle design at the bottom of it by the artist David Hockney and looks so inviting when you are standing out in the heat. A standard room with either a deluxe king bed or two queen beds costs around $289 per night.
I love shopping, and I especially like vintage clothes, so when I was told about Melrose Avenue I just had to visit. I can guarantee that if you are into vintage clothing, you will not be disappointed. I went in a shop called Wasteland (7428 Melrose Ave; 323-653 3028; www.wastelandclothing.com), which is huge and full of weird and wonderful things. I bought a pair of silver leather cowboy boots for $45, which works out at roughly £25, which is way more than reasonable. I also bought a tasselled leather jacket for $16 (roughly £10) from Slow (7474 Melrose Ave; 323-655-3725; www.slow7474.com), another cool shop to check out. One tip when walking around Melrose Ave is to take bottles of water with you, because it gets hot very quickly.
Mel's Diner in Hollywood (1660 North Highland Ave; 323-465-2111; www.melsdrive-in.com) is an awesome place to visit, especially if you have children. It is the original Hollywood diner, with the original booths and jukebox with records. It is like stepping back in time or on to the set of Grease. The walls are covered in photos of how it used to look when it was packed years ago, with old-fashioned cars parked outside. It is wonderful. The food is cheap (top price is $17) and the menu includes salads, burgers and sandwiches; there's also a separate breakfast menu. For drinks, I recommend the freshly squeezed orange juice - it is so tasty.
Santa Monica buzz
Santa Monica is an amazing place. It has so much life and such a fantastic energy. The beach is stunning, with its golden sands running into the sea, and it is buzzing with people rollerblading, skateboarding, surfing or cycling. The energetic atmosphere continues down Santa Monica Pier, where, at the end, you'll find the most amazing Mexican restaurant called Mariasol Cocina Mexicana (401 Santa Monica Pier; 310-917-5050; www.mariasol.com). It is literally the last thing on the pier and as you sit eating, you are looking out onto the big blue ocean - a wonderful way to start an evening. The food is fairly priced (expect to pay $11-$20 for a meal) but it gets very busy so I suggest you get there in plenty of time. They start off your meal with chips and an absolutely amazing home-made salsa; I also recommend the burritos and fajitas.
If you get a chance, I suggest going on a tour of Universal Studios (www.universalstudioshollywood.com) - it was fantastic. You get to see the street and the exterior of the house in Bruce Almighty with Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston, the Wisteria Lane set of Desperate Housewives, and Bates Motel from the original Psycho movie. One of my favourites was getting to see Whooville from The Grinch; it is just so adorable, and takes you out of this world. The price for general admission is $69 per person, which is rather pricey - but it's well worth it for the experience.
If you and your family like busy, energetic city-break holidays with the added bonus of a stunning coastline just a taxi ride away, then Los Angeles is an amazing place to visit. There is so much going on, and it is the perfect destination for the whole family to enjoy, especially if you have teenagers. In LA, there is something for everyone.