Gary Fong, Los Angeles, Stay — April 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm



The Biltmore Hotel


LOS ANGELES – When it comes to Downtown hotels, there’s no better choice for us than the old Los Angeles Biltmore.  Built overlooking Pershing Square in the 1920’s, when Downtown was the center of the city, the Biltmore is one of LA’s last grand dame hotels – classic, opulent, glamorous, from a bygone era.  It’s primarily known as the site where some of the early Academy Award ceremonies were held (check out amazing photographs of the ceremonies line that the hotel’s hallways) and – to a lesser extent – as the spot where JFK accepted the Democratic party’s nomination for President and where the Beatles apparently stayed during their first US concert.


To us, what really sets the Biltmore apart from other hotels is its design and décor, a mix of European revival styles – think Renaissance, Mediterranean, Moorish with a bit of Beaux Arts tossed in.  It’s truly a lovely hotel.  The frescos in the main Galleria are a must see as is the Rendezvous Court, where the Moorish style comes in.  The rooms are done up in a similar old school motif but recent renovations make them feel new again.  Each room tends to be fairly large, easily accommodating a group of friends after a night out (versus the typical smallish hotel room size of modern structures).  A room for the night without an advance reservation ran us a fairly reasonable $250, to which we became more amenable as we sipped our last round of drinks in the Biltmore’s Gallery Bar and realized that a soft bed was only an elevator ride away.

Biltmore Decor

Biltmore Murals

Biltmore’s Gallery Bar









If, for some reason, the Biltmore isn’t your thing and you’re not looking for that classic hotel experience, then there is certainly a range of alternative hotel options in the area for you to choose from.  If you’re into, say, Japanese style spas there’s the Miyako Hotel in Little Tokyo.  Or, for those on a very tight budget, the attractively dive-y (and somewhat scary) American Hotel in heart of the arts district.  Others include the very chain-y and shine-y Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott in the LA Live complex, the Standard Hotel (the one with the rooftop bar that’s got the great views), and the iconic cylindrical glass and steel Westin Bonaventure (yep, they’ve got those awesome Heavenly Beds).


Oscar photo at the Biltmore

The little things that make Downtown hotels worthwhile:  Sipping a martini at the Biltmore’s Gallery Bar while supposed non-professional singers karaoke a spot-on version of Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s The Closer I Get to You; the Biltmore’s gorgeous Rendezvous Court; and perusing their Academy Award ceremony photos from long ago.




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Images:  Gary Fong, Oscar photograph © The Biltmore Hotel

Author:  Gary Fong

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