The Hollywood Connection – A Stylish Insider’s Top Tips
Top 10 Hollywood Travel Tips
If you have ever flown into Los Angeles airport you’ll know the approach into LAX is possibly one of the ugliest visuals from the air and when you exit the John Bradley International terminal it doesn’t get much better, loud, sticky, dirty, poor air quality and that’s not just the airport. The City of Angels paradoxically is actually vast, difficult to negotiate, cut throat and has more homeless unsheltered people, approx 60,000 according to the LA times than any other US City. So expecting to know how to network in Hollywood in one visit is unrealistic. Finding out where celebrities hang out or the best place to spot a celebrity is not easy unless you have the better contacts than the twins of Tribeca. The image portrayed in the media and the truth are poles apart, A listers are exclusive and illusive so before you subscribe to Variety and book a Hollywood Virgin flight get real. If you are in search of the bright lights, private reservations, glamour, Rodeo Drive and the elusive celebrity, getting to know the ropes and some of the genuine movers and shakers in Hollywood is a must.
Swimming with sharks is tricky when you’re a guppy (if you've read my book Looking For Harvey Weinstein you'll know I am an expert) and looking for a luxury lifestyle on a budget impossible, even for the best networkers on the planet, without the right connections. Everyone knows these days Hollywood, like the mafia, is run by only a handful of people so having the right Rolodex (we’re old) is vital for navigating the city of Angels successfully. If you only have a short time in LA you don’t want to spend it and your whole budget in the main lane with everyone else on the terrible see nothing “Hollywood Tour” - you’ll be broke before you blink so we’ve put together our list of people and places to know, to have the very best stylish Hollywood experience for less. Top 10 Hollywood Travel Tips Where to stay in LA
There are literally thousands of where to stay options many either completely over priced like the Pennisula Beverley Hills or scary on a budget, move over Bates Motel. Our Number 1. choice for affordable luxury accommodation that checks all the boxes is The London West Hollywood N. San Vicente off La Cienega and just off Sunset. This is a smaller privately owned chain frequented by hoteliers from around the world, hoteliers only stay at the best and recognise excellent value for what’s on offer. It is the only hotel in Hollywood with a screening room and because of its tucked away but central location it attracts massive name celebrities looking for a home away from home where they can enjoy privacy and anonymity. This hotel has a real family feel and you can guarantee nothing will be too much trouble (they’ll bring you complimentary ginger ale for a tummy upset and even nip out to the pharmacy for you ) but don’t approach J Lo at breakfast and ask for her autograph, as you may find the next time you try to book in there’s no availability for you.
If you want a few days at the beach, the masses head to Santa Monica or Venice where you can expect to pay a premium even for accommodation blocks always from the beach. Try the beach cities of Playa Del Rey, Manhattan and Hermosa Beach where you can get a room right on the beach at the Sea Sprite and enjoy breakfast at the Local Yolk or Uncle Bills where we’ve spotted loads of celebrities enjoying their famous Jalepeno Hash for a fraction of the price. How to get around Hollywood In LA the only way to get around is by car. The traffic is bad and the city is spread out so even though the bus network is efficient and cheap you’ll find yourself literally spending hours trying to get from place to place. Don’t rent a car at the airport, returning will be a nightmare. Instead take a cab to your hotel and have a rental car delivered on the days you need it as overnight parking is expensive and like the London West Hollywood , many hotels have a courtesy limo at your disposal for local trips to the mall or out for ice cream.
The best car rental in Hollywood we've found, Enterprise on Santa Monica Boulevard, they offer exceptional service and are extremely competitive. Stand out with a small air conditioned vehicle (make sure you ask as a car without air con in LA will make you very miserable) An economy car is cheap to rent, cheap for gas, easy to park and super stylish and fun to drive if you pick something like the iconic Fiat 500 designed by Italian billionaire playboy Lapo Elkann.
Meeting The Right People in Los Angeles In LA like any big City you can have anything if you are rich but if you are not then you need to know people to find the best for less. The most powerful people in LA are actually the concierges, the people who can open doors at the best restaurants, find seats for sold out shows and sporting events. They have access and valuable relationships so be nice and tip big. Sarah Dandashy (on instagram @askaconcierge) is the best person to connect with and she'll always respond and be delighted to help. When she is not jet setting around the globe on official concierge business or making content for her heavily subscribed TV channel you’ll find her unassuming friendly exuberant self behind her desk in the hotel lobby at the London West Hollywood hotel. (Image credits - Sarah Dandashy)
Nigel Shanley (on instagram @nigelatcaboknows ) now retired and based in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico’s playground for Angelinos looking for a quick breakaway is more accessible these days. Best friends with Steven Tyler and Sharon Stone his days in Los Angeles were so well connected his website marketing challenged visitors to find him. With membership into his personal concierge services costing upwards of $20K with a reputation of being able to make ANYTHING happen, he was once so exclusive his website offered no way to contact him. These days you can secure his help planning something incredible for a fraction of the fee. (Image credits - Nigel Shanley) To find a Celebrity Hairdresser Beverly Hills you definitely need a recommendation, the best get to choose their clients. I would always recommend my hairdresser Piny (on instagram @pinybevhills ) but don’t expect something for nothing here, there’s a reason he is the choice for many of Hollywood’s elite, including Kim Kardashian. One thing you can expect is exceptional service. As a loyal client, returning to LA after months away with hair in a mess and something really important to do, within 24 hours I was in the chair, getting the VIP treatment as if I’d never been away.
And if you really want the Hollywood experience you need to hook up with a stylist. (That’s a fashion stylist) Finding the right person, someone you can trust is the most difficult part but having good connections will actually save you time and money in the end. Stylists like Pamela Emmanuel (on instagram @pamelaiemmanuel ) with their own brand (she co founded Daughters of Nonyelem) are great to work with as they have greater access to more clothes and are in a better position to loan you something than a stylist who has to buy everything retail. Where To Shop Hollywood On A Budget The first thing to remember when you land in LA on a serious budget are three little words, Ross, Marshalls and TJ Maxx (the US equivalent of our very own TK Maxx only bigger) These are the places to find the best for less for anyone on the hunt for affordable luxury. These stores are immense and can be overwhelming but if you give yourself time and are prepared to rummage and dig major bargains can be found. Times are a changing and nowhere have people been more vocal about the threat of climate change than in Hollywood so it was only a matter of time before we saw a glamourous emporium full to the brim of designer clobber pop up in Beverly Hills quite apaptly named Adore The Couture @adorethecouture Beverly Hills. It’s true there is still a little snobbery around shopping secondhand (unless you're an ethical fashionista) but when money’s tight celebrities aren’t exempt from using their expensive designer purchases for a little quick liquidity meaning mere mortals like us get to enjoy some designer luxury on a budget. Designer outlet stores are a US concept where you can save money by heading out North to Oxnard between LA and Santa Barbara Camarillo Outlets or staying closer to LA heading east of the City to Citadel Outlets, Commerce CA. The last time we were in town we saw Off Saks Fifth Ave at the Beverly Center selling pre loved designer luxury handbags like the Hermes Birken secondhand, a first and on a budget shopping in LA wouldn’t be complete without jumping on the 405 south and heading to Orange County, Costa Mesa where you’ll find Nordstrom Rack - UK girls, think Selfridges always on sale.
Where to spot a celebrity - it’s true many people visit LA hoping to spy a celebrity and if you can afford to hang out at the Ivy on Robertson, the Polo Lounge at Bev Hills Hotel (get your reservation on the patio) or the Penninsula Beverley Hills it is likely you will eventually run into someone famous. I've bumped into a whole host of A listers at all three venues. However in places like this if you attempt to take a photograph or speak to the celebrity in question be prepared to get thrown out, no questions asked. The best places to catch celebs is in their natural habitat, they choose dive joints and hole in the wall places where they have a better chance of being left alone. Head to Pavillions grocery store or Starbucks in Malibu, The Local Yolk in Manhattan Beach or hang out in the Pacific Palisades, you can no longer grab a table at Morts, made famous by Seinfeld creator Larry David (I did meet Julia Louis Dreyfus there) but on the right day you’ll see more famous faces than not, just out and about doing the same things we all do like grabbing coffee or picking the kids up from school.
Photo by: Sterling Davis