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Hollywood Bohème

Hotelier Stefan Ashkenazy's Guide to L.A.
  • Petit Ermitage

    Petit Ermitage

  • Lucha VaVOOM

    Lucha VaVOOM

  • Saddle Peak Lodge

    Saddle Peak Lodge

  • Petit Ermitage

    Petit Ermitage

  • Typhoon Restaurant

    Typhoon Restaurant

  • Jumbo's Clown Room

    Jumbo’s Clown Room

  • Petit Ermitage

    Petit Ermitage

  • West Hollywood by Night

    West Hollywood by Night

CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

The greater L.A. area spans some 500 square miles on the Pacific Coast of Southern California.

WHY GO

Though it’s a mind-bogglingly varied place, you’re bound to see a bit of the L.A. of the popular imagination — show business, beautiful people, legendary nightlife, bank-busting shopping, perfect weather and all.

HOW

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the major air hub on North America’s West Coast, with direct domestic and international flights aplenty.

TABLET TIP

Once in town, you’ll need to get comfy with car culture. L.A.’s public transportation system exists somewhere between unhelpful and altogether unknown.

It’s one part hotel, one part private museum. At West Hollywood’s Petit Ermitage, a distinctly Angeleno tribute to Catherine the Great’s slightly less petit Hermitage in St. Petersburg, owner Stefan Ashkenazy’s truly impressive private art collection is tucked discreetly away on the building’s upper floors. Visiting feels a bit like being given the key to a secret, grown-up toy chest, with works by the likes of Rauschenberg, De Kooning, Miró and Dalí as the contents. It’s not your typical hospitality experience, to say the least. Nor is Ashkenazy your typical master of the house. He’s a man with some rather eclectic interests and tastes, and during a recent chat, he spilled a few of his secrets on how to do Los Angeles right.

En plein air:
“To properly attack the day, start by surfing at County Line, on the border between Los Angeles and Ventura counties, before a lunch of fish tacos, crab claws and beer at Neptune’s Net, a Pacific Coast Highway institution. Afterwards, take to the skies and learn to fly a helicopter with Orbic Air — or, from the passenger’s seat, take in a bird’s-eye view of the city and the coast at sundown. Land at Santa Monica Airport and make the obligatory stop at Typhoon, right on the tarmac, to taste the house specialties: toasted scorpions and fried crickets. Skip the ants.”

Dining out:
“Three radically different options for a good night out. First, there’s Totoraku, chef Kaz Oyama’s basement grill on West Pico Boulevard. It’s invitation-only, but if you like meat, this is where you need to go. Next, there’s Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, a no-reservations ramen house with especially good broth. Or hop on a motorcycle and ride over to Saddle Peak Lodge, via Malibu Canyon, where you’ll find one of the best buffalo burgers in the world.”

The circus is always in town:
“Two fantastic circuses: Lucha VaVOOM and Cirque Berzerk. The first cheerfully mixes stand-up comedy, burlesque and Mexican wrestling; the second, born in the dust of Burning Man, puts clown punks, fire-eaters and crazy acrobats on display in a delicious chaos. For a drink with some of the city’s most colorfully shady characters, head for Jumbo’s Clown Room, the legendary strip club on Hollywood Boulevard. And finally, take a moment to thank the local authorities for having re-opened the doors (and the dance floor) of M Bar, the retro cabaret hidden in a mini-mall on Vine Street.”

Occult shopping:
“For sundries, from bizarre gadgets to costume jewelry, go to Wacko / Soap Plant, at the corner of Hollywood and Vermont. If you’ve got magic skills, check out the oldest occult shop in the United States, Panpipes Magickal Marketplace, on North Cahuenga. And to prepare your potions, or cure cases of possession, the in-the-know witches and wizards do their shopping at Farmacia y Botánica Million Dollar, in Downtown L.A.”

Wellness and the walking cure:
“If you find that your purchases from Panpipes or Farmacia y Botánica haven’t quite done the trick, take the time for a quick acupuncture session followed by a mineral shot at Sweat Shop L.A.’s Tonic Bar. And to fully reconnect with the city, nothing beats the view of the L.A. lights from Griffith Park, on a sundown walk with Night Hikes.”

Interview by Dante Nolleau

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CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

The greater L.A. area spans some 500 square miles on the Pacific Coast of Southern California.

WHY GO

Though it’s a mind-bogglingly varied place, you’re bound to see a bit of the L.A. of the popular imagination — show business, beautiful people, legendary nightlife, bank-busting shopping, perfect weather and all.

HOW

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the major air hub on North America’s West Coast, with direct domestic and international flights aplenty.

TABLET TIP

Once in town, you’ll need to get comfy with car culture. L.A.’s public transportation system exists somewhere between unhelpful and altogether unknown.

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