Mr C Hotel, Beverly Hills
Firstly, our flight. It's long. Like, really long. If you're heading that way, try and get a flight on the way out which lands around late afternoon, sleep a teeny bit and then on the way back get an overnight flight that lands early afternoon (and then you sleep a little on the flight, stay awake until proper bedtime in the UK and you're done). We flew with Virgin and although the seats on the return were comparable to a baby seat, the staff were lovely and the flight times were by far the better ones available which when you're going for a week or so (like us) is very important - have a look at the best ones here.
Prancing around with Hugh / Driving around Beverly Hills
We stayed in a relatively new hotel called Mr C in Beverly Hills, and loved it. Big white rooms, big pool and big cakes (Cipriani is inside the hotel, as is their infamous Lemon Baked Alaska Cake) - we couldn't complain. Location wise it was perfect, pretty much everywhere we wanted to go in that part of town was 15 mins away by cab (use Uber, all journeys were around $10). On the first night we had dinner at Soho House West Hollywood which for the benefit of any members is very similar to Shoreditch House bar a very cool outside rood area.
Terrible attempt at a selfie with the Hollywood sign (can you see it? Me neither) / Road trippin' with Olivia
On the next day we were complete tourists, taking a trip down Sunset Strip and then walking down the Hollywood Walk of Fame which I would compare to Leicester Square in London, i.e: I doubt a local has been there for quite some time but "when in Rome" you kind of have to do it. We watched with slight confusion as a crowd outside the Dolby Theatre went NUTS as Mel B walked passed during America's Got Talent - swiftly followed by an emaciated looking Heidi Klum... We went on to do a Homes Of The Stars trip, which although was cool to see the different residential parts of LA (and the Hollywood sign) I wouldn't recommend for anyone looking to actually see star's homes (they're pretty clever with trees and hills to make sure noone can see them at all). Saying that, our driver (Hank) was pretty amusing... and I suspect stoned.
The Beverly Hills Hotel pool, where I ate a salad bigger than Texas
To get over our hectic morning we had lunch at The Beverly Hills hotel, which just had to be done. It feels like you've walked into a 1970s movie. Sitting by the pool eating the biggest salad I've ever seen, I had one of those "I can't believe I'm here" moments. I had another one of those moments at 1am that night whilst watching hilarious karaoke on one side of the room, watching Olivia and Chloe mount a bucking bronco on the other (with a cocktail the size of my head and eating an endless supply of candy floss)... I'd definitely recommend paying the Saddle Ranch Chop House a visit.
Taking a ride down to Venice
The next day was Olivia's birthday, so we kicked it off with a cake and chocolate breakfast (organised by Lucy) in our bedrooms before surprising her with car to ride down to Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney Boulevard which was my favourite part of the whole trip. We ate at Gjelinas, and I'd eat there every day if I could. The food is Lebanese-come-Italian-come-French, so lots of small salad dishes, salt and pepper fries and pizzas. Oh, and the salted caramel mousse for pudding was literally one of the best things I've ever, ever tasted. Abbot Kinney itself is a gorgeous array of white-washed boutiques and home stores - a stark contrast to Venice Beach which is slightly more tacky (although you must go just to see the 80 year old in his Air Max and gold thong parading himself around Muscle Beach. It's a sight).
Amazing food at Gjelina's, Abbot Kinney
Having taken a drive home through Malibu (as you'd expect: a lot of beautiful beach homes) we got home to quickly change before dinner at Chateau Marmont. Annoyingly you can't take pictures inside; a massive shame as the garden area we ate in was beautiful. We toasted to the birthday girl (complete with tiara) once again and dived into another plate of steak, chips and (followed by) birthday cake. After 3 days of constant get-up-and-go, I've never slept as soundly as I did that night. The morning afterwards, we head to Vegas (more on that later).
Interesting houses around Venice Beach
A few days later we returned to LA for a final night, and all I needed was rest. Thankfully, JW Marriott put us up in their LA Live hotel. I was hesitant about staying Downtown, but to be honest it was perfect. and great to get the comparison between the leafy West Hollywood side. The hotel was beautiful; the room was gorgeous and the (unexpected) rooftop pool was exactly where I wanted to spend my final hours before heading home (bar two hours at The Grove frantically shopping for everything I needed).
Mucking around in the pool at JW Marriott LA Live in my Triangl bikini
In summary, if you go to LA - make sure you do the following:
. Stay downtown and uptown to get the contrast, our hotels were great examples
. Go to Chateau Marmont for dinner - reserve way ahead
. Visit The Beverly Hills hotel for lunch, and have their Club Salad
. Hire a car and drive to Venice Beach, and buy me a little beach hut on Abbot Kinney
. Eat at Gjelinas - again make sure you reserve
. Visit Rodeo Drive, but don't buy anything - then visit The Grove and buy lots
. Take a coat, it's chilly in the evenings
. Visit the Hollywood sign, which takes longer than you think as it's teeny
Many thanks to Mr C, JW Marriott and Virgin Atlantic!