WeHo: the other side of Hollywood

by bb264

Small but perfectly formed, with a vibrant nightlife, West Hollywood is every bit as exclusive as its more famous LA neighbours. Here's where to stay, eat, drink and hang out in cosmopolitan WeHo

Nestled between the more familiar Hollywood and Beverly Hills, cosmopolitan WeHo (West Hollywood) is a real gem. Occupying an area of just 1.9 square miles, it is one of the most exclusive places to visit in and around Los Angeles, with an incredible nightlife (a wide choice of bars and clubs), great scenery (mountain views and billboards!), a large gay community (many rainbow flags) and a fair sprinkling of celebrities.

Whatever the time of day, WeHo has a real buzz: by night, it is ablaze with neon lights; at 6am, there are queues outside the fitness centres. WeHo people like to be fit, healthy and positive – and they love walking their dogs. Take a stroll down Santa Monica Boulevard, browsing in the designer-wear shops and checking out the cafés and bars, and you will have a truly enjoyable experience.

In short, West Hollywood may not be the cheapest place to visit – but it is well worth it. If you want to meet friends, experience the nightlife and be an explorer in the daytime, this is the place for you.

Where to stay

The Ramada Plaza (8591 Santa Monica Boulevard) is in the best location, since all the bars, restaurants and coffee shops are right on your doorstep. It is very clean, recently renovated and one of the cheapest hotels in WeHo – plus it has a great swimming pool. Be wary of parking charges, though.

Hotel Le Petit (8822 Cynthia Street) is a five-minute walk from Santa Monica Boulevard and can be expensive. However, the service is excellent and the hotel has an old, French style of décor. The rooftop has amazing views all around WeHo; bonuses include a fireplace, good music and a swimming pool. Personally, I think it was better before it was renovated – but this is still a very good hotel.

The Sofitel Hotel (8555 Beverly Boulevard) is the best celebrity hotel around WeHo. Located right next to the Beverly Centre for amazing shopping, it is the best hotel I have ever stayed in. It's certainly not cheap – but its rooms, amenities, cuisine, gymnasium and pool make it pure luxury, hence its appeal to celebrities.

What to see

There are many interesting places to visit. One great attraction is the Pacific Design Centre. Known as "the blue whale", the building really stands out on the corner of Melrose Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard. Inside there are more than 130 showrooms full of furniture, art and other design products.

For the best views, go up to Runyon Canyon Park. Not many people know about this place, apart from locals who regularly take their dogs there. It's a long hike, but well worth it when you reach the top. I could spend many hours of my life up there, looking at the views of LA and the famous Hollywood sign. Make sure you return before it gets dark; I nearly didn’t, quickly realising there were rattlesnakes around.

Where to eat

Tango Grill (8807 Santa Monica Boulevard) is a great Argentinean restaurant. It does excellent salads, wonderful steak and (not very Argentinean!) teriyaki chicken – and the service is excellent.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (8735 Santa Monica Boulevard) is a good alternative to Starbucks, and a great hangout.

Tonos Tacos (8928 Santa Monica Boulevard) has great fast and cheap Mexican food.

Trader Joe's (8611 Santa Monica Boulevard) is a great supermarket, with an excellent choice of healthy foods including fruit, cereals and juices – and not-so-healthy booze!

IHOP (8461 Santa Monica Boulevard) is a 24-hour breakfast joint that is the best hangover cure! "Do you want some more coffee?"

Panda Express (in the Beverly Centre) has great Chinese gourmet food and is very cheap and cheerful.

Where to go for nightlife

For gay nightlife, there are many bars and clubs to experience:

The Abbey Bar (Robertson Boulevard) is one of the best to visit, with its many rooms, cabanas and patios where guests can sip cocktails.

Club Rage (8911 Santa Monica Boulevard) is full of high-energy music and has a great dance floor.

Fiesta Cantina (8851 Santa Monica Boulevard) is a fun, happening bar with an excellent, positive atmosphere and a great drinks menu.

Sky Bar (8440 West Sunset Boulevard) has the most gorgeous views of the city and is often visited by celebrities.