I remember several years ago (in the before times/pre-pandemic), I had a work trip where we stayed in downtown LA. I didn’t properly explore it (besides going to The Last Bookstore which might be the coolest bookstore I’ve ever been to) and came back home feeling mostly underwhelmed, saying I wouldn’t stay downtown again. Since dating my boyfriend, that has changed! He’s shown me how much there is to explore here (especially all the museums, but also the proximity to Little Tokyo which is just the greatest). I have come to really, really like downtown LA and think my younger self was a bit of an idiot. There is also so much history and good stuff to explore.
Downtown LA Staycation
Downtown is a bit of a hike from my his place, so we usually only go there for daytime things (museums, mostly!) as it’s such a long drive back. I was very excited when The Ace invited us in for a staycation. We thought it would be the perfect chance to spend even more time downtown. Back to Little Tokyo (truly, it’s the BEST sushi ever), all of the museum-ing, and probably the best part: he surprised me with tickets to the philharmonic!
(Also, in the spirit of transparency, my friend from high school works for The Ace and offered us an amazing room at their discounted “friends” rate.) We stayed in one of the corner loft rooms, which I would highly recommend… you can see more of it on my Instagram (I have an LA highlight and a reel from this trip!) Like all Ace Hotels, we had a great experience. Our room was spacious and modern, the rooftop is especially lovely, and we loved the coffee shop downstairs.
The rooftop of The Ace is perfection – like an enchanted garden!
One of the most fun parts of downtown LA is all the history.
The old theaters, the ornate building facades… places like The Biltmore (above: we got drinks there and then wandered the halls, my favorite is all the old, glamorous photos from past Academy Awards as back in the old days, that’s where they were hosted!).
On our first night, we went to the coolest little speakeasy, The Varnish. The drinks were just beyond. (I recommend The Bramble, I swapped bourbon for tequila.) You walk in through an old Irish pub, there is live piano music… it’s just a fun, sexy little vibe.
We had such a fun little date night on Saturday.
We started at Otium for dinner (we chose it as it’s such a quick walk from Walt Disney Hall but the food was exquisite). The highlight of our meal was probably the salmon tartare which is served lettuce wrap style with shiso leaves (beyond!). Then we walked over to Walt Disney Hall (an incredible building, designed by Frank Gehry) for the performance.
The next day, we went out to our friend’s ranch but in the afternoon, we went to The Broad (probably my favorite LA art museum!).
And then it was time for my favorite thing ever – sushi in Little Tokyo. Our go-to spot Sushi Gen was closed, but we had heard great things about Sushi Komasa and it did not disappoint. I honestly think that the sushi in Little Tokyo is better than Nobu, at a fraction of the price. Most of these spots don’t take reservations so get there 30-40 minutes before you want to eat, put your name in, and have a drink nearby!
The last thing we did (before my flight!) was drive to Pasadena to the Huntington Gardens.
So, so beautiful. I loved exploring but my favorite parts were definitely the Japanese and Chinese Gardens. You could easily spend all day here exploring, I wish we had more time.