48 Hours in Los Angeles


By Sanjiv Bhattacharya

Photography by Getty.

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November 2017

Stopping over in LA for a few days and looking for what to see, eat and do? British expat Sanjiv Bhattacharya shares his guide for spending 48 hours in the city.

Day One

13:00 – Make yourself at home

Upon landing at LAX for 48 hours in Los Angeles, your immediate choice is, city or beach. For a day trip, it’s one or the other, because travel between them is to spend eons in inchworm traffic. (There’s a reason that beach-dwelling Westsiders don’t meet up with city friends in Silverlake very often, and it’s the drive). If it’s beach vibes you’re after, then head for Santa Monica, to the Palihouse West Hollywood Hotel on the Beach. Grab a late lunch at Cassia’s and head for the thrill of the hissing tide and sand between your toes.

Find our cheapest flights to Los Angeles

  • Hit the shops at the famous Rodeo Drive © Getty.

    Pretty women

    The filming location of Julia Robert’s famous shopkeeper exchange in Pretty Woman, Rodeo Drive is home to the world’s most expensive shop, Bijan, where you’ll need an appointment just to get in.£856 pp

    Stay at The Beverly Hilton
  • Feast on beautiful dishes such as fettucine at Otium © Sierra Prescott.

    Downtown dining

    Otium is a Latin abstract term describing leisure and quiet, joyful contemplation, which is exactly what restaurateur Bill Chait and head chef Tim Hollingsworth envisioned for this social dining space.£462 return

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  • Bed down in style at Palihouse West Hollywood.

    The sleep walk of fame

    To make the most of this boutique hotel and the surrounding attractions, download their ‘Palifornia’ app and unlock the hotel’s savvy LA guide.£1146 pp

    Book a stay at Palihouse West Hollywood

15:00 – Downtown vibes

To be up to your waist in the Pacific, barely a couple of hours after deplaning, as the Americans call it, is a beautiful thing. And as the sun sets, the sight of Ferris wheel on the pier is as cheesy and wonderful as you might expect.

LA’s beating heart has migrated east over the last decade, away from West Hollywood to Silverlake and Highland Park, but most of all, to Downtown LA, where a once noir-feeling, ghost town is now a centre of revival in art, culture and food. A cocktail at the rooftop bar of the Ace, a dip in the pool, and then a wander through the streets to roam The Last Bookstore all the way up to the historic Biltmore Hotel to gawp at the incredible ceilings.

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is like a mini-festival every Saturday night, though you could drive past without the faintest idea of what was going on behind those gates

19:00 – Time for a nightcap

Try The Misfit for cocktails and then Melisse for dinner, where menus offer delights such as veal cheek ravioli, aubergine "ratatouille", and red pepper sauce.

  • Pull up a seat at the Hollywood Bowl by night.

    Bowling them away

    The ‘Pool Circle’ at the very front of the amphitheatre used to be a swimming pool separating the audience from the performer, but once scrapped to make room for more space, became home to the Bowl’s most expensive and exclusive seats.

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Day Two

09:00 – Breakfast time

The beach set will be out on the sand first thing, of course, filling their lungs with sea air. Get a swim in, a stroll along the tideline to watch the early surfers, perhaps rent a bike from Santa Monica Beach Bike Rentals, or rollerblades from Sea Mist Rentals. Then head to Venice, Santa Monica’s hipper cousin just down the street, with its famous boardwalk and Abbott Kinney, once dubbed the coolest street in America. Have brunch at Salt – try the Breakfast In Bread with ‘over-easy’ eggs, smoked bacon, and tomato jam.

If you’re based further in the city, head to Grand Central Market for breakfast and book ahead for one of the LA Conservancy Walking Tours of Downtown. There’s no better way to get your bearings in this vibrant district. The Art Deco tour is fantastic for architecture lovers, as is the tour of Historic Downtown. Peel off at the end to explore some of the gallery scene. The Broad is a must-visit (so book in advance) and Moca is equally essential. Try Little Tokyo for lunch, where the incomparable Sushi Gen offers arguably the best sushi for the price in the city (just expect to wait).

13:00 – Get active

Westsiders should take a drive down the PCH for a few miles with the music blaring. Bring water, sunscreen and some decent boots and you can go for a brief hike up the Paseo Miramar trail into the canyons. You’ll see stunning coastline views before rewarding yourself with a cocktail and oysters at Geoffrey’s. If all that sounds too strenuous, try the Getty Museum, where a little shuttle train climbs the hill to Richard Meier’s gleaming icon of minimalist architecture.

With the sun high in the sky, city folk can squeeze in some pool time this afternoon and maybe a little shopping too; Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills if you’re feeling flush or the boutiques of Silverlake for the hipper set such as Dream Collective. You can then get your hiking gear on for a trek up to the Hollywood sign. Head for Beechwood canyon and follow the trail. Arguably the best hike of all though, is to the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Feliz. You can head to the peak from here, watch the late afternoon sun sink into the horizon, and see exactly why John Fante called LA, “you pretty town”.

18:00 – Wine and dine

If you’re staying near the beach, you could do far worse than dinner at Gjelina or the Tasting Room. Downtowners have an embarrassment of riches, from the nouveau Mexican bustle of Bar Ama, or Otium and the glorious clatter of Bottega Louie’s .

But the smart traveller will build their night around an event. Try the legendary classic rock venues on the Sunset Strip such as The Viper Room, and The Roxy or comedy at The Laugh Factory. Perhaps best of all are the events under the stars. Take in a concert at the Hollywood Bowl or a movie night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the final resting place of Rudolf Valentino and Judy Garland. Hundreds of people show up with picnics and blankets, enjoy an outdoor DJ set and watch a classic movie. It’s like a mini-festival every Saturday night throughout the summer, though you could drive past without the faintest idea of what was going on behind those gates.

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