[We threw this together for visiting foreigners when we were getting married.]
WELCOME TO LOS ANGELES
Los Angeles is very big. We are getting married in Eagle Rock, a neighbourhood in north-eastern LA. (It’s named after a rock that allegedly looks like an eagle.) Neighbourhoods and cities nearby include Pasadena, Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Glendale, Alhambra (C’s home town) and Burbank.
The beach (Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, etc) is waaaaaay over on the other side of town. If you stay there, you’ll be a long way from the wedding. But if you stay near the wedding, you’ll be a long way from the beach. Choose carefully.
The nearest international airport is Los Angeles International (LAX). There are daily direct flights from London Heathrow (LHR) and just about everywhere else. We generally fly Virgin Atlantic because you get tons of films and TV programmes to choose from, and they give you Love Hearts to eat before landing. They have two direct flights from Heathrow to LAX each day. (Look out for the red blankets they give you in economy on some flights. They cover your clothes in little red bobbly bits. I bet there’s a lint remover in first class. [I have just been reliably informed that they actually give you a proper duvet in first class. Thanks, Michelle.])
The nearest domestic airport is Burbank (BUR). I’ve never flown out of there but I’m sure it’s lovely.
Getting to and from the airport is sometimes cheapest if you take the Super Shuttle — it’s a shared-ride van, so you usually have to wait for and drop off other passengers, but it’s a flat-rate fee per person. Just find the blue-jacketed attendant on the curb outside LAX when you arrive, and when you’re going home book a pick-up through their website. Taxis are more expensive if you’re alone, but can work out cheaper if there are a few of you.
R made it through almost eight years in Los Angeles without learning to drive (for short distances, buses and trains are entirely feasible as long and very cheap). Normal people, however, drive everywhere. Renting a car (with GPS) might be a good idea if you want to explore; R’s parents have used Avis and Thrifty. Traffic is generally horrible. Sorry.
Fancy hotels that aren’t too far away include the Langham Huntington in Pasadena, The Standard Downtown, Chateau Marmont (where famous people stay), the Millennium Biltmore (where R once had birthday afternoon tea), The Charlie in West Hollywood (with which R is a bit in love), The Standard West Hollywood and Petit Ermitage (where R & C celebrated their engagement).
R’s parents’ favourite nearby hotel is the Best Western Pasadena Royale.
THINGS TO DO IN LOS ANGELES
Some of our favourite restaurants are El Compadre (who have the most fantastically bad website ever), Masa, Two Boots (pizza!), Madame Matisse (really good brunch), Allston Yacht Club and the Arizas taco truck outside the Walgreen’s car park on Sunset. Los Angeles is full of really delicious food. If you need recommendations, ask us.
The main beach neighbourhoods are Santa Monica (the city all English seaside towns aspire to be), Venice Beach (crazy weird hippie street-performer wonderland and home of Muscle Beach) and Malibu (fancy houses, movie people and a fantastic beach called El Matador). It won’t be hot — it’ll be January, when the average is 20°) — but if you’re English you might just think it’s warm enough for a beach day.
Despite everyone driving everywhere, walking in LA is really nice. Hiking in Griffith Park is a favourite weekend pastime, and in January it’ll be sort of cool enough that you probably won’t overheat, fall down a canyon and never be seen again. Griffith Park is in the Hollywood hills — bring your camera for views that stretch all the way across the city to the Pacific (as long as it’s not too smoggy), shots of the recently restored Giffith Observatory and glimpses of the Hollywood sign. If you want a less tourist-ridden and more adventurous hike, head to the Angeles National Forest. It’s lovely out there.
ROAD TRIPS FROM LOS ANGELES
For the most gorgeous (and terrifying) coastal drive you’ve ever taken, head north up Highway 1 to Big Sur. Stay overnight halfway in a little town like San Luis Obispo if you want more time to explore the wooded north. Keep going and you’ll end up in San Francisco. In Big Sur, find Fernwood and drink a bloody mary. Take a coat; it gets chilly up there.
If you’re English and have never seen a desert, go inland to Joshua Tree or Palm Springs. We got engaged in Palm Springs at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club — the food and cocktails at the hotel’s restaurant, King’s Highway, are brilliant. We spent our last morning as non-engaged people in Joshua Tree, having brunch at Crossroads Café (the Crossroads Classic is R’s favourite smoothie ever) and drinking insanely spicy bloody marys at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown (they also have great food and a very fun motel).
If the LA coast isn’t enough seasidey goodness for you, go south about two hours and you’ll get to San Diego. It’s quite nice.
You can drive to Las Vegas from Los Angeles; it takes about four and a half hours. If the wedding plans all go wrong, we’ll drag you out there and get married by an Elvis impersonator, which is the only thing R’s dad told her not to do when she moved to America (the only thing R’s mum told her not to do was get a tattoo… oops.) Anyone heard saying the phrase: “Vegas, baby!” will be driven out to the middle of the desert and abandoned. If you’re looking for somewhere nice to stay in Las Vegas, we can recommend Palms Place Hotel & Spa (it’s connected to The Palms, but it’s far, far better, so don’t accidentally book the wrong one.)