Our annual trip to California (yes, it has been 10 years since this annual pilgrimage started) is one of my favourite trips each year. I love this place and I always come back for more. A lot more.
This year, after stops in San Diego (I adored staying at Rancho Valencia) and Palm Springs, and a little over a week of bliss with Mr. O, we decided to mix things up a bit and ‘meet the girls’ in Los Angeles, for an action-packed weekend – if you are going to do it, do it properly, is all I have to say.
The girls, as you know by know, are Lauren di Marco and Mary Anne Been – we are starting an exciting project soon, whereby the three of us go places and invite a fourth guest to join us. And on this trip, we had the fab Maxine Tatlonghari, aka Vanity Girl Hollywood as our guest and host.
Things started well, as I checked in the fab Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Very well indeed. After a lazy lunch, it was time to get my LA hair. I am making a bit deal of my LA hair because only there I do let my hair get carried away. I found this great place, called the Dry Bar and was delighted with the results (and good value too at $40).
Back at the hotel, it was time to get things started – and I was delighted that the Four Seasons team organised a little party for yours truly and friends. We feasted on wonderful nibbles from Culina, its signature restaurant, paired obviously with bubbles and cocktails.
From there, we headed to Nic’s Beverly Hills for dinner, which was quite interesting. The food was fine, but I have to say I enjoyed getting up dressed in fur coats to do a little vodka tasting in the ice bar. We do look strange bearing in mind the temperature outside was in the high 20s (Celsius!).
We intended to party the night away, but we are not 20 anymore. So after saying goodnight to the girls, I took my boy for a nightcap back at the hotel, fully intending to be in bed before midnight – well, that did not happen. The Windows Lounge at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills was so busy and fun, that we ended up staying until the bar closed. Oh well.. you only live once!
After a very lazy morning and a lazy breakfast in bed, it was time to leave our hotel and head to another fabulous hotel: the Beverly Wilshire. Yes, the “Pretty Woman” hotel. We checked-in to our suite, which was huge and had the best views in town: oh yes, give me Rodeo Drive any day of the week.
No rest for the wicked, and before we knew it, it was time for someone to make me pretty again. Maxine had organised an afternoon of fashion and beauty for us – what is not to like?
We were to spend the rest of our day in West Hollywood, which is just around the corner from Beverly Hills. The team at Fragola, an appointment-only showroom which sells mostly Italian designer fashions, couldn’t have done anything more for us.
First things first, I needed to hide the lack of sleep from the previous night and maintain my fab LA hair. I needn’t have worried as the fab Lyric Cross, did a great job on me and the girls. I have to confess I did enjoy the attention – a lot!
With the help of our über cool stylist, I tried a variety of wardrobe choices, but there was something about Nina Ricci’s dress collection – all the ones I wanted were hers, so I took it as a sign.
That paired with a fab pair of Sergio Rossi’s (which I later bought as I really liked them and were a bargain at under $100) and ‘those’ diamond earrings, and I was good to go. Those earrings, courtesy of Gerald David Bauman, were amazing. I usually only wear very small earrings but was glad to be challenged to try something different – and was quite pleased with the result.
After we were all ready, it was time to begin the photo shoot – and I can tell you, I can totally get used to this! Before we knew it, it was time to wrap. We spent 5 hours trying on great clothes and shoes and being made up whilst sipping champagne and eating strawberries – I can’t tell you how much fun it was.
As I had skipped lunch, I was a bit peckish and we still had some time before dinner, so Maxine suggested we went to Tortilla Republic, which I have to say was a fab idea.
We decided to be brave and try the jalapeno margaritas – oh my God. They really had a kick – and let’s say it purified my body – and were delicious. I did spend most of the time in tears while I was there – but they were happy ones. You could play ‘spot the European’, as it was that obvious. I also really enjoyed the ‘salsa tasting’ with the tortilla chips – very different from the usual. The place looked fab and so did the crowd.
Maxine did a great job of picking this place, especially as it was next door to SUR, where we were to have dinner. Here, we were met by Alison, the LA Flytographer, who was to keep us company for the night and capture some of our best moments, without us posing or noticing. You will see that this is the second time I have worked with Flytographer and really really like this new company and concept.
Dinner was fun and again, we intended to go party the night away, but we were a little bit tired. But I couldn’t go to bed and back to the hotel before hitting one of my favourite places in the area – the bar at the SLS Beverly Hills who does something amazing, so amazing, there are almost no words: it is called the ‘Ultimate Gin & Tonic’. Mr. O and I went with Lauren and we decided to be brave and just order gins we wouldn’t normally have – it was so interesting! But after one drink we did go back to our respective hotels…
I can’t tell you much I was looking forward to Sunday… why? I hear you ask.. well, because we were going to the beach. What was so special about it? Despite having been and stayed in Santa Monica over 10 times, I had never been to the beach. Why? I know what you are going to say.. but I only like going to the beach with sunloungers… and for some bizarre reason, they don’t exist in California (you will see them on every beach in Europe and in Florida, for example, so I don’t understand).
The City of Santa Monica wanted me to change my perception and organised a day at the beach with our own beach butler. The concept is a little far-fetched (we do have all this in Europe, except we don’t call the people who help out butlers) but it worked. For 50$ at Perry’s Cafe, you get 2 sun beds (I wouldn’t call them loungers as they are not quite it, but they were absolutely fine), an umbrella, unlimited water and lunch. Yes, lunch (from a menu, excluding alcohol). Basically as you want things, you use your walkie-talkie and call the butler and ask away.
From there, it was time to shower and change. We did so at the Exhale Spa at the Fairmont Hotel, where we spent the rest of the afternoon. This beachfront hotel has a great garden and outdoor seating area, and we simply stayed and sipped some wine. I will never forget the amazing sunset… which made me sad: our girls’ weekend was coming to an end, and even worse, so was my California trip.
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. This time around, we went to Border Grill, where we had some great Mexican food in a very casual setting. It was lovely.
On Monday, I had my Pretty Woman day at the Beverly Wilshire. We woke up reasonably early, had an amazing breakfast and I headed to the spa, whilst Mr. O headed to the pool – it wasn’t a bad compromise. I then joined him in our cabana where we made the day last as long as possible – but LA time goes quickly, it always does when you are having fun.
After a quick turnaround, it was time to say goodbye to the Beverly Wilshire, where we spent an amazing weekend (and worry not, I shall review it shortly, as well as its amazing spa on a new series I am starting soon).
I hate leaving California, but it is always a bittersweet feeling: because I always know that in less than a year, I will come back for more. I always do.
Disclaimer: a huge thank you to everyone who made this weekend perfect, especially the cities of West Hollywood and Santa Monica. I rested my head at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills and at the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel. I indulged at Fragola, Tortilla Republic, SUR, Perry’s Cafe, Exhale Spa and the Border Grill. And I loved being photographed by Charles Hopkins and Flytographer.