Arrival Experience: Radiated by downtown Los Angeles, LAX Airport, nearby universities, and the hub of film industry and production, the Culver Hotel (named after real estate mogul Harry Culver) brings back Hollywood’s old sophistication and charm to in-the-know travelers. It is only 15 minutes from the airport, and a new metro line stops just a block from the hotel rushing guests into various parts of town. The unassuming entrance of this historical building is a nice change from the massive lobbies of downtown hotels. Spiffy staffmembers handle check-in with a smile and point guests to the elevator just behind. Stepping into the lift, guests step into a time machine with the walls covered in a panoramic photograph of the neighborhood before its total rebirth as a shopping and dining mecca today. The property was once owned by John Wayne and Charlie Chaplain and has since hosted several notable guests including the cast of iconic movies like The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, both of which were produced nearby. Not only are guests the stars here, but the building itself (a national historic landmark), which has been featured in many films thanks to its appearance that can mimic a variety of settings. Ronald Reagan and Greta Garbo were among the celebrities that once lived here.
Dining: This entire neighborhood has several dozen restaurants that attract hungry visitors regularly, but a hidden secret (well, slowly becoming less of a secret), is the Culver’s lobby lounge. With its high ceilings and contemporary furnishings, this mix of new and old draws guests in for a cocktail or two. Live jazz bands play nightly adding to the flair. This is the kind of place where mustachioed hipsters in suspenders rub elbows with svelte models and their dapper boyfriends or managers. Hollywood elite regularly hold events here, and weddings and receptions are de rigueur if you can book early enough. Continental breakfast is served daily in the lobby for guests, and a separate menu of sweet and savory items to order is fairly priced. High tea is a popular activity, and lunch and dinner are also served inside or on the terrace. Climb the stairway at the back of the lobby to discover a traditional speakeasy with plenty of seating nooks for private tetes a tetes. Antique furnishings and modern décor create a uniquely stylish space that is in no way pretentious, yet uber chic. This space can be used for receptions thanks to plenty of downstairs seating in a separate chandelier-illuminated dining room.
Rooms: This hotel, with its historic flat iron architecture and built in 1924, is designed to be cozy and compact with only a few rooms per floor. Small sitting areas and historic photographs are found in hallways. Guest rooms continue the look with soft carpeting, padded bedframes with thick duvets and pillows luring guests to sound slumber. Work desks feature a host of convenient power outlets while flat-screen cable TVs face the beds. Free wireless Internet and coffeemakers are great perks, and the minibar, stocked in an old-fashioned suitcase, draws attention. Each room contains antique furnishings that were part of the original hotel. Designers opted to keep these eclectic pieces for character, and each room has a different armoire ranging in size and shape. Bathrooms feature subway tiling, strong water pressure in showers (many with windows to the outside), Gilchrist & Soames toiletry products, and soft robes and towels. Due to the building’s shape, rooms vary in size and exposure, but all are quite spacious and ideal for couples or individual travelers (families can book into one of the suites if they need added space).
Amenities: Valets park cars, which is helpful in this bustling neighborhood. The second floor features plentiful meeting space in fully restored rooms. Harry Culver’s former office is one of the most popular for small functions. The ceiling and much of the woodwork is still in place. Be sure to take a peek into the former safe, where all of his loot was stored, which now functions as a bar for special events. On this same level is a 24-hour fitness room open to guests with their room key. This hotel is packed with local character and a penchant for recalling a glamorous era that seems to have passed so many other hotels by these days. Its convenient location and friendly service make this a gem no matter where your travels take you in the L.A. area.