If you plan on visiting L.A.’s Westside and need an unpretentious place to hang your hat for the night, there’s a relatively new hotel in Westwood that should hit the spot. It’s the Hotel Palomar, a Kimpton Hotel, in the heart of the Wilshire Corridor.
The Palomar features 264 rooms and 26 suites, including a Spa Suite complete with a Fuji soaking tub. Just a word of caution though: that one will set you back around $600 a night! The others: ranging from a more reasonable $189 to $275 depending on the size and season.
The décor, both in the lobby and in each room, is an artistic blend of modern and Asian with Chinese red and black lacquer combined with a mix of fine leather and exotic materials. The lobby isn’t just one large room as in so many hotels…it’s broken up into sections, so you can sit and chat with a friend in a little alcove or listen to music by the fireplace in one of the larger sectors.
Guest Services Manager Larry Marshall is usually on hand to answer any questions or to show you around the facility.
When you enter the hotel, though, let me warn you, the herringbone pattern of the wood floor can make you a little dizzy. It appears to be undulating when, in fact, it’s perfectly flat. I can’t imagine how you’d feel after a cocktail or two! Speaking of which, every evening from 5-6 complimentary wine is served in the lobby, and we’re not talking Two Buck Chuck. Every month there’s a new selection, and they’re very drinkable.
But if it’s something a bit more serious you’re wanting to imbibe, the BLVD 16 bar is right next door with some pretty exotic offerings, such as “Not Far From the Tree” ($11) featuring Wild Turkey bourbon, Calvados, Chinese bitters and fresh apple juice. Or how about a Carbon Negative ($9) with Tru organic gin, Grand Poppy liqueur, Bundaberg ginger beer, Bar Keep apple bitters and fresh lime. But if those are too exotic for your palate, the bartender has the usual suspects on hand.
The rooms at the Palomar are well appointed, and depending on how high up you’re residing, the views can be spectacular….with endless vistas of Los Angeles.
The décor: A surprising mix of materials from faux snakeskin bureau drawers to faux fur bed covers. They even provide animal print robes featuring different animal patterns depending on your size. They even have a giraffe robe for those over 6 feet! This one obviously was a bit large for me!
The bath is also beautifully decorated with adjustable lighting so you can find it at night without a bright light shining into your room.
There are all the necessities: hair dryer, bath products, wireless internet, flat screen TV, as well as a yoga mat and umbrella! The yoga mat is for those who’d like to tune in on the TV to a guided practice for yoga or meditation.
You can get a more intense workout in the 6th floor gym, complete with treadmills, bicycles and free weights. And it’s open 24/7!
The outdoor pool is heated to 82, and while it doesn’t have a Jacuzzi, if you get chilly, there’s a gas fireplace where you can warm up and enjoy a glass of wine or even lunch or a snack. It’s open from 7am to 10pm.
Speaking of a snack, the BLVD 16 is a terrific spot to dine. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you can either have your meal in the dining room or in the lounge…or, again, at the pool or in your room. Same wonderful food.
And that’s attributable to chef Richard Hodge who hails from the Bay Area, so he really knows his cuisine, which, by the way, is eclectic. He says he loves being able to create anything he wants at any time. In fact every day he features what he calls his Daily Whim, which could include Corn Salad with Pea Tendrils and Paprika Spiced Popcorn. Every Saturday Richard meets with JC Romero, his sous chef, and they decide what interesting concoctions they can create for the week.
The traditional menu consists of a variety of small and large plates, and they’re all tasty. For vegetarians there’s Baby Beets ($10) in a beet vinaigrette with goat cheese, mache and pistachios or Quinoa ($8) served chilled with cucumber, oven roasted tomato, feta cheese, olives and a mint pesto.
There are also several flatbread selections including the Caprese ($10) composed of black kale, fresh mozzarella, oven roasted tomato, basil and sea salt. Great combination of a crispy flatbread and gooey cheese!
If you’re a pescatarian there’s the Crudo ($10), a seasonal fish served raw with avocado mousse, chili vinaigrette and a ginger aioli…melts in your mouth!
Meat eaters will enjoy the chef’s favorite: a Pork Chop ($24) served with roasted potatoes, peach chutney and torpedo onions (a small heirloom variety from Italy).
I had the Linguini ($21), fresh lemon pasta with English peas, olive oil tomatoes, kale, and a ricotta salata (salted and dried). It’s served al dente and stayed amazingly hot after being served, which pasta rarely does.
Each course can be matched with a specially selected wine. Just ask sommelier, Blaine Brown, or as she calls herself, THE Blaine Brown since she now has her Silver Pin! They pride themselves on serving mostly Southern California varietals, which is also the case for their beer….quite a few from local breweries.
And lest we forget BLVD 16 creates all its own desserts including a decadent Valrhona Warm Chocolate Cake ($8) with strawberry clotted cream. If you’re not familiar with it, Valrhona is a French luxury chocolate, and it just oozes sumptuously as soon as your fork pierces the cake. Need I say more?
Another specialty: the Banana Mille-Feuille ($8), layers of light cinnamon-sugared filo dough with a banana pastry cream and topped with banana brulee. I could go on, but let’s leave the others as a surprise, shall we?
You don’t have to stay at the hotel to enjoy BLVD 16. It’s a popular spot with Westwood locals, but if you’re looking for a weekend getaway or even a weekday getaway, the PaloMAR is MARvelous! (I just had to…..)
The Hotel Palomar and BLVD 16
10740 Wilshire Blvd.
L.A. CA 90024