When trying to choose a place to stay in LA, deciding on location based on the local rooftop bars is not silly…
In the name of research I spent three days (and nights) holed up like a celebrity in the London Hotel West Hollywood to check out the best bars within staggering distance in between slumming it with a cocktail on the roof with scantily-clad young things fluttering about.
But step outside the London’s back entrance and walk up to Sunset Boulevard and you’ll walk right past the very nondescript black door of the Viper Room, famous for being the spot where River Phoenix died of a drug overdose. I haven’t included the Viper Room on this list because it’s by no means fancy and in fact looks so dodgy I didn’t even poke my head in the door.
But I have visited these three rooftop pool bars in West Hollywood (or WeHo, if you’re hip)
1. The London. Of course this is at the top of the list because this is where I’m dossing and therefore got to frequent said rooftop several times, day and night. It’s often used for private events, so it would pay to call ahead before you plan your entire evening around eating or drinking here. The restaurant at the London (on the ground floor) is Gordon Ramsay’s (read my review of our 5-course meal here) and while the potty-mouth chef was not in residence when I was here, I did enjoy his menu.
But back on the roof, a giant pool is the centre feature edged in palm trees with cabanas around the perimeter. In the evenings there are tables with umbrellas and heaters to sit under and watch the twinkling lights of the city sprawling out into the distance.
If you’re not a house guest, you’ll need to book a table. But if you are, just waltz on up, they’ll bend over backwards to accommodate you. Oh and Gordon does the food up here too.
2. The Standard. Not to be confused with the Standard in Downtown LA (in your face Wikipedia, you’re wrong!) where Leo di Caprio and Cameron Diaz were part owners. This one on Sunset Boulevard looks positively cheap and motel-like from the outside and unless you already knew how cool the Standard brand is (it’s so cool the name is printed upside down) you’d hardly glance at it.
But lo, go inside through the lobby full of hip young things, onto the blue astro-turf pool deck with views of the city of Los Angeles and find yourself a sun lounger or a space on a green astro-turfed “stage” and watch some ping pong and flirting.
The pool girl (or guy) will bounce over with a menu and the sliders do the trick nicely for lunch or a wee bite with a beer in the sun. Everyone is very hip, very slim/buffed and very into revealing themselves poolside.
It may not be the literal rooftop, but because it hangs over the canyon the views stretch to eternity. But don’t stay here if noise is not your thing. With all the rooms opening on to the pool area it’s busy. Oh and at night a DJ comes in, the lights change and it’s even crazier. This is the place to come to be seen if you’re of a certain ilk (read: age and excitement level).
3. Andaz. This is a Hyatt Hotel. Formerly the Hyatt Sunset Boulevard nicknamed the Riot House in the 70s thanks to the bands who played and stayed here. Andaz is their new brand now and means “personal style” in Hindi.
There’s no reception as you would expect one to look like. Instead you are greeted on entry by the smiley staff and taken to a tech desk, offered a glass of wine, and they will check you in. This place is now uber chic both in the lobby where art exhibitions give a nod to its rock star past (photos of the Rolling Stones and Robert Plant when they stayed here) on the ground and mezzanine floors, and on the rooftop where you’ll need to be a house guest to secure yourself a seat with a window onto the world. Unless you have ‘connections’ that is!
But the Sundeck is what I’m here for so I blagged a “viewing” and promised not to take photos of any of the actual people lest I get sued. This place is great and if I wasn’t ensconced at the London, I’d totally want to stay here.
Update: I returned a couple of years later and stayed here. Love this place!
You may ask why the SkyBar at the Mondrian isn’t included and that’s because it was still undergoing refurbishment when I popped in for a look. Please leave a comment if you think SkyBar should be on the list!
Jump here for my post on 5 great hotels to stay at in West Hollywood here >>