By Ron Bernthal
I have always liked the Kimpton brand when it comes to urban boutique hotels, and the new Kimpton La Peer Los Angeles property, opened in 2018 in West Hollywood’s Design District, did not disappoint.
For this property Kimpton partnered with award-winning, Icelandic-born interior designer Gulla Jónsdóttir as lead creative designer. Jónsdóttir studied architecture in Los Angeles and runs a noted design studio in the city. She said about her work at La Peer, “With this project, we’re taking design cues from our neighbors in West Hollywood, from fashion people to high-end furniture designers, artists and poets.” This is a design-centric hotel that evokes the trendiness of the neighborhood (on La Peer Street, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue) as well the Art Deco style of 1930’s LA. The hotel offers 105 guest rooms, a 4,000 square-foot rooftop terrace, indoor meeting and event facilities, a poolside fitness center and indoor and outdoor dining and lounge spaces.
My room, with its Mies van der Rohe’s “less is more” décor, colored in charcoal greys, beige and black, did not have a great view, but the wood desk, framed wide-screen TV, plush bedding and large glass-enclosed shower made up for the non-view. On a shower shelf were large plastic bottles of toiletries from Atelier Bloem, including oolong tea shampoo, geranium conditioner, and a mandarin & citrus body wash with eucalyptus, lemon, white flower and sandalwood, fragrances inspired by the floral mosaic of Amsterdam’s floating flower market the Bloemenmarkt.
The hotel’s small pool, accented by lush landscaping and handcrafted lanterns, is outside under the warm California sun, and like many outdoor spaces in LA, it merges easily with the indoor environment of the lobby lounge and bar. Custom designs are evident in the lobby with curved brass ceiling details, a leather cocoon wall, and six-foot round light sconces that emit a cozy glow in the lounge. The patio bar and pool lounge are quiet, and exude a casual European atmosphere, a nice vertical garden wall is adjacent to the pool.
Although there a few works of art in the guest rooms, a gold Jeff Koons balloon rabbit sits on every bedside table, site-specific works by Los Angeles artists Tanya Aguiniga, Guerin Swing, Elena Manferdini and Retna are scattered throughout the property and are evocative of the city.
Within walking distance (yes, walking in LA!) is a collection of interesting boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, bars, outdoor cafes, and movie studios. Newer venues in the area, a 10-15 drive from the hotel, include the LA outpost of the bar/restaurant Employees Only, often voted one of the best bars in the world; the speakeasy Bathtub Gin, tucked away behind a coffee bar; and a branch of the acclaimed Milk Bar, the award winning bakery from chef/owner Christina Tosi, soon to be located on Melrose. The La Peer is presently the only upscale hotel in the Design District, and despite its somewhat pricy room rates and museum quality artwork, the staff is friendly and casual, and the ambiance is definitely unpretentious
Adding to the mix of eclectic art and design in the public areas the hotel’s dining venue, a trattoria called Viale dei Romani, is where noted chef Casey Lane overseas the breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Although a delicious continental buffet breakfast is mainly for hotel guests, locals will come by for the chef’s wood fired seafood and house-made pastas offered at lunch and dinner. And, like at all Kimpton properties, the La Peer offers guests complimentary wine during cocktail hour