Interior designer Kelly Wearstler has done it again.
The creative director hit another home run with the recently opened Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel in the city’s South Park District, breathing new life into an abandoned 1920s California Renaissance Revival building with the help of contemporary local artists like Abel Macias, who painted the colorful mural of birds adorning the arched lobby ceiling.
In fact, his folky Mexican modernism creates a festive welcome at check-in that's matched by general manager Stephane Lacroix and his team's warmth and gracious hospitality.
There is a beautiful insouciance to the way Wearstler layers colors and textures throughout the hotel’s public spaces and guestrooms. The vivid visual feast is almost too much, but somehow every detail comes together to transport guests to a carefree fantasy world without feeling excessive. Globally inspired details include elements of Spanish, Portuguese, Mexican and Moroccan design, including hand-painted tiles and vintage furniture and rugs.
One-of-a-Kind Suites and Guestrooms
Sometimes, guestrooms at renovated historic buildings can lack modern comforts, but that’s not the case here. Rooms and suites feel more like a stylish friend’s apartment than a hotel room, with tiled, Moroccan-inspired walk-in showers stocked with full-size Aesop bath amenities, succulents on the window ledge and easily accessible bed-side outlets. The minibar here is the best I’ve seen in Los Angeles (again, leaning on the strength of local L.A. artisans such as Milla Chocolates, Amass gin and Kollo’s cold brew tea to give clients an authentic taste of the city without even leaving their room).
The building, designated as a historic landmark, was originally a private club and later a YWCA in the 1960s. Components of the building’s past make their way into two one-of-a-kind suites: Proper’s basketball court suite is a reimagination of the YWCA’s original court, and includes original 1920s hardwood floors in a 1,430-square-foot, open-plan layout with double height ceilings; the Proper pool suite, meanwhile, is twice as large, with a full-size heated lap pool and ceramic tile mural by local L.A. artist Ben Medansky. (I loved the massive mirror in the bedroom, and how the television rests jauntily on an easel rather than a traditional stand.)
Both specialty suites are available by inquiry only and start at $5,000 and $10,000 per night, respectively. The pool suite, in particular, would be incredible for hosting parties, as it accommodates up to 25 guests.
Dining at Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel
The food at this 147-room property is another highlight. This is the first hotel project for James Beard Award-winning chef Suzanne Goin and restaurateur Caroline Styne, two icons who have been defining the Los Angeles culinary scene for a quarter of a century. Both women are founding members of the Independent Restaurant Coalition that has fought to secure congressional support for independent restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During my stay, my friend and I began our evening by enjoying sunset cocktails and mocktails at the rooftop Cara Cara overlooking the old marquees on Broadway before heading downstairs to Caldo Verde, the lobby-level restaurant and bar where the namesake caldo verde and charred chanterelles over pillowy polenta are must-orders.
I was surprised to see Goin in the kitchen on a slow Tuesday evening, but her work ethic and passion are unwavering, and she touched every table that night. Although Caldo Verde is Portuguese-inspired, Goin gives each dish a California twist, like adding local rock crab from Santa Barbara to her caldo verde along with the traditional grilled linguica (Portuguese smoke-cured pork sausage). I was also pleased to find that Goin's famous rustic boule from A.O.C. (her second restaurant in L.A.) makes an appearance on the menu and serves as a handy apparatus for sopping up extra broth and sauce.
Later this year, a third lobby-level bar will open, too. Dalia will have just 20 seats and showcase small-batch spirits in refined presentations with bar bites by Goin.
I'm just glad it gives me another excuse to come back.
Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel