“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
It’s hard to argue that California isn’t the most blissfully relaxing state in our union. With so much to see and do, but at a slower pace than say the East Coast, it’s no wonder people who visit constantly rave about it. In September, I had the pleasure of seeing it all for myself. It doesn’t seem to matter how often I visit, there’s always something new and inspirational to see; something that stays with me and inspires my work. And I do love to bring my work home with me.
Home to the stars, Beverly Hills is known worldwide for its grand mansions and chic shops along Rodeo Drive. The city of Beverly Hills, however, has much more to offer, with a wealth of famous art galleries, museums, fine restaurants, and an exciting nightlife. I would have loved to have taken part in a little of everything, but this was another working trip; prioritizing was essential.
Nevertheless, Beverly Hills had a lot in store for me! That is where I was granted my obligatory Hollywood celebrity sighting. No one wants to go to California and come back saying they didn’t see a single celebrity, right? And did I luck out! If you were to make a list of the hottest stars on television today, I think who I spotted would be at the top of that list. There I was minding my business when I realized that Sophia Vergara stood next to me on Rodeo Drive taking with a friend of hers. The topic? She’d made a visit to the Gucci Store where she tried on some amazing knee high boots. She’s even more beautiful in real life. Seriously, how lucky am I?
I lodged part of the time at the ever magnificent Beverly Hills Hotel which sits on 12 acres of lush tropical gardens on world-famous Sunset Boulevard. The hotel is very close to Rodeo Drive making my celebrity sighting maybe not as hard to come by as it could be in other parts of the city. The Beverly Hills Hotel's famed Polo Lounge, pool and cabanas have been a favorite spot for numerous stars and Hollywood deal-makers making it a real treat for me to experience.
Did I mention that our bungalow was once occupied for several years by famed business magnate, Howard Hughes? Does that count as a second celebrity sighting? Maybe just a half sighting, huh?
If you’re looking for a uniquely high class casual setting with a feel of the 50s, you should try The Fountain Coffee Room. They serve old fashioned fountain drinks, all natural ice cream, and more, in addition to today’s best gourmet coffees. It’s bound to become your favorite place if you’re a coffee junkie.
For a little more star gazing, you can’t go wrong with Il Pastaio on North Canon Drive. A little taste of heaven, it's no wonder this friendly neighborhood establishment has been a favorite meeting place, satisfying locals with its mouthwatering pasta since they opened in 1994.
Would you look at this table setting? This was my view when having dinner at a friend’s place in Beverly Hills. The food and atmosphere were great but what made it really special was spending time with friends.
The next place I rested my head was at the sophisticated Peninsula Hotel on South Santa Monica Boulevard. With its mix of classic renaissance features and old Hollywood glamour, it almost feels like you’re stepping back in time.
I received an unexpected surprise when I walked into the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel and saw the lobby boutique was 100% Capri! I fell in love with this store when I visited Capri, Italy. Inspired by traditional living of Capri, this boutique recalls the charming and timeless tradition of the island I came to love. I was so excited to see one in Beverly Hills.
What’s better than sunbathing by a stunningly beautiful pool? How about having a luxurious mani-pedi pool side?! The Peninsula’s manicure cabana offers the absolute best manicure- pedicures ever. Truly.
Next on my list was a visit to trend setting West Hollywood. There are so many things to love about WeHo, but I especially love the historic areas with houses and trees that almost make you forget you’re in Los Angeles. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that one of my favorite things was the food. Family owned Madeo Ristorante serves mouthwatering Italian and Laurel Hardware is perfect for drinks with friends. I loved them both but the truth is, I can’t make a visit to West Hollywood without having lunch at Cecconi’s. At the corner of Melrose Avenue and Robertson Boulevard, Cecconi’s features Venetian influenced food and drink. Chef Andrea Cavaliere hails from Turin in northern Italy. His ability to blend northern Italian comfort food with fresh, healthy Californian fare keeps me coming back for more.
The final stop on my trip was to pop into Fred Segal on acclaimed Melrose Avenue for a bit of shopping. Fred Segal is the epitome of what’s great about L.A. boutiques. They have a great selection of up-and-coming avant-garde designers as well as some tried and true veterans. I don’t know how anyone could walk out not having seen something they just can’t live without.
The same can be said about the entire state of California. It has something for everyone and it’s a great destination to get a pulse on what savvy shoppers are spending their hard-earned dollars on. Like most visitors to California, I came away truly inspired.