Walk on the Wild Side on a West Hollywood Vacation
by Debbie Stock
West Hollywood, Calif.―Don't be too hard on yourself for not
knowing about West Hollywood, Hollywood's little brother commonly
known as "Boys Town". West Hollywood, the 1.9-square-mile city surrounded by
Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Los Angeles, is where The Sunset Strip begins
and ends with clubs such as Rage, The Roxy, Troubador, House of Blues,
Whiskey a Go-Go and Viper Room. West Hollywood rocks or walks to a different
beat with creative energy. Artists, entertainers, writers, producers and
alternative lifestyles (one-third of the population is gay), are all
welcomed in this "other" Hollywood.
Trendy designer shops, outrageous nightlife with top acts,
and the world's largest Halloween street party, West Hollywood Halloween
Carnaval held each year, are a few things this "walk on the wild side"
destination touts. During the Oscars you may get a close and personal
glimpse at celebrities attending the Studio Oscar parties held in West
Hollywood. And if you miss that special day, some of West Hollywood's famous
residents and business owners, Robert De Niro, Faye Dunaway, Johnny Depp,
Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin, frequent this area where they live, work and
play, making your opportunities for a celebrity sighting even greater.
While one or two road signs help you distinguish West
Hollywood from Hollywood, the best way to get close and personal is to stay
at a West Hollywood hotel. Our introduction to the city first came through
friends and acquaintances who spoke about the place. A spark, a light or a
smile appeared as each person spun some fascinating tale.
Compelled to check it out, we booked a hotel room for a
one-night stay and drove there to explore. Though its buildings span decades
of history and are themselves, architecturally noteworthy, West Hollywood
seems less defined by its buildings than stories that surround them. Brought
to life by characters whose only boundaries are the imagination, we spoke to
a savvy bellman at Le Montrose Hotel who's publishing a poetry book and is
more knowledgeable about copyright than you'd ever hope to be. To him, West
Hollywood is a land of opportunity providing more access to publishers,
producers and celebrities than any place on earth. Next we spoke with the
waiter at Valadon Hotel, who fondly remembers the punk rock movement but now
delves into esoteric topics as freely as the glasses of water he pours
customers. West Hollywood is filled with people who embrace the
arts, and who function especially well outside the box.
At our West Hollywood hotel tucked away in a residential area
filled with apartments and condos, the staff and guests were from everywhere―UK, Germany, Scotland, South Africa and Italy, to name a few countries.
Whether on vacation or on location contracted for filming assignments,
visitors are an eclectic mix who prefer West Hollywood's choice of hotels
and night life. The centrally located accommodations range from modest to
upscale, offering tourists on vacation the perfect home base for walking and
We began our search for the heartbeat of West Hollywood near
the Pacific Design Center at Melrose Ave., home to the Avenue of Art and
Design. Fine art galleries, home decor, Avedon boutique, and a unique
Heritage Book Shop (located in a former funeral parlor) fill this commercial
region where you can purchase designer products. Bring lots of cash or your
credit card to continue your shopping spree at the huge Hustler store on The
When you get hungry, one-of-a-kind restaurants such as Le Pain Quotidien,
feature pastries, sandwiches and coffee drinks or herbal tea blends. The
vast array of fresh baked breads are gorgeous to look at and yummy to eat.
With indoor tables and casual outdoor deck seating, you'll enjoy a relaxing atmosphere
and superb foods.
Hollywood is the perfect spot for people watching (or celebrity star gazing)
and there's no better way to do it than alfresco
dining at over a dozen restaurants on North Robertson and
Santa Monica Blvd. Best enjoyed with a cocktail, you can eat
outdoors all year long thanks to mild temperatures and over 100 restaurants throughout the city.
the largest gay and lesbian community in Southern California, expect a
lively atmosphere in most everything you see and explore in this sophisticated, fun-loving city.
Dinner is just an appetizer for the evening ahead in West Hollywood. Those
who love musical entertainment will be hard pressed to find the
caliber and quality of acts featured in some of the top night clubs in the
U.S. along The Sunset Strip. The night is alive with beating, pulsating
rhythms in venues that have helped catapult groups into stardom (and continue
to do so). The Doors, Mamas and Papas, The Byrds, Frank Zappa's Mothers of
Invention, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen, Motley Crue,
Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, The Who and countless
musicians and acts have played the clubs along The Strip. And though
British rock band, The Who, made
their headlining U.S. performance at Whisky A Go-Go, “This Song (and story) is Over.”