In partnership with West Hollywood
We travel for the local experience; we crave authenticity. In a city like Los Angeles, where it can be tricky to delineate between what's real or ringer, it helps to have a native's eye. West Hollywood is one such place, known as the heart of LA. Scratch beneath the film of glamour and you'll uncover grit yes, but a storied history, community, and an unmatched capacity for reinvention. It's what the tourist brochures promise but can never quite deliver. To aid you for your next trip, we spoke to three celebrated West Hollywood locals and asked them to share their own special haunts. From interior design havens to the best French fries, Mary Ta, Timothy White, and John Terzian weigh in.
Interior Designer and Entrepreneur
A leading light and tastemaker in design internationally with her showrooms Minotti and MASS Beverly, Mary Ta's aesthetic is fuelled by her West Hollywood surroundings; think classic cars, Californian sunshine, and melting pot of energies that is constantly being renewed. “The city of West Hollywood is a birthplace of unconventional freedom," Ta tells RUSSH. “We’re not an urban jungle. We’re actually quite a good balance between a city and a community and a neighborhood. And I think that sense of neighborhood – living with trees, living with businesses, living with people, so it’s a real city in the futuristic sense where we balance the people, we balance the businesses, we balance the fun.
Visit Minotti and MASS Beverly. “We wanted to introduce Los Angeles to Italian design, and we chose West Hollywood because we wanted to be in a community. We actually wanted to grow that impact of design and use the community as a source of education.”
A self-professed "hotel guy", Timothy White is also an accomplished music photographer, shooting everyone from Guns N' Roses and Miley Cyrus to Audrey Hepburn and Brad Pitt. While White cut his teeth in New York City, he began travelling to LA in the 80s and has since accrued an intimate knowledge of the city. Like many before him, he's enamoured by West Hollywood's front-and-centre position in pop culture, its neon lights, and is not deterred by the grit beneath the glamour. "West Hollywood, even way back, always had a little bit of a wild side to it,” he points out. “It's this enclave of creativity and freedom and beauty. There’s an openness, a sense of freedom, that’s a little bit different.”
"I love the hotels. I’m a hotel guy. I always have been. I like the feeling of them. They’re all so unique and they all have such personality. In the 1930s and 40s, the Sunset Strip had all of these nightclubs, the upper-class of Hollywood and the stars. And then youth culture happened in the mid-60s; the Whisky a Go Go opened, the Roxy, all of these rock ‘n’ roll clubs, and all of these bands emerged from that.
The Sunset Marquis is just off the Strip, yet it’s an oasis. This hotel is about rock ‘n’ roll. It’s about that history. It’s about something that is really unique to this area of town and to the United States – I think you could stop at any light on the Sunset Strip or on Santa Monica Boulevard and look over next to you and there’s somebody in a car who is a movie star or somebody that you know.”
"There are amazing restaurants in this town, we’re known for it. On any given night I’m at Craig’s, or I’m at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills. Whatever the vibe, there’s something going on every single night somewhere, so that’s exciting. I always take people up to the Hollywood Hills to some of the special places. Vito’s Pizza on La Cienega, or the special restaurants and parks.”
On French fries...
"I just did a french fry tour of West Hollywood. I got together with somebody on a Saturday and I took them to five different places for french fries. For those who don’t know, The Belmont on La Cienega has the best french fries ever."
A born-and-bred Angeleno, John Terzian is galvanised by West Hollywood's history and ability to reinvent itself. The hospitality veteran started his company H. Wood Group over 12 years ago, with an intention to harness and participate in the creative energy and cultural scene West Hollywood is renown for. “Since West Hollywood’s formation, it has cultivated and attracted the type of people that have paved the way with food and fashion and arts and hospitality," Terzian says.
“Sunset Tower is one of my favorite restaurants and hotels.”
"Dan Tana’s is a legendary restaurant that I love. It is true Rat Pack – you know, kind of old school. One of my favorite sushi places in the world is Sushi Park, which is in West Hollywood and it's incredible.”
It would be remiss not to mention Terzian's venues as the founder of H.Wood Group. Nightclubs like Delilah, Bootsy Bellows, Harriet’s and The Nice Guy are local institutions with a global reputation. They evoke the supper club era of West Hollywood, a time when people dressed for dinner, the Rat Pack could be found at the table next to you, and "the piano was the centre of the party".