The Newest Hotels in Los Angeles Are Redefining Luxury Travel

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Hannah Elliot, Bloomberg
14/5/2018


Los Angeles has many faces.The time and effort required to brave its famously sluggish traffic means that, for many visitors, the place they choose to stay determines the flavor of their experience.

Great hotels abound — and there is no single best way to experience L.A. Right now, one of the most exciting options is to explore the street art and galleries of gritty downtown with the NoMad Hotel as your base. The just-opened venue is a spinoff of the trendy Manhattan namesake, complete with a restaurant from the Eleven Madison Park team.

Still, downtown isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for more of an escape, considering one of these two new urban resorts offering diametrically opposed experiences in the City of Angels. The Nobu Ryokan Malibu — co-owned by the chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Larry Ellison, actor Robert De Niro, and film producer Meir Teper — and Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills are pricey, beautiful, and replete with special treats unique to their respective locations. Each is worth visiting; each will return memorable moments you’d miss by staying elsewhere.

Here’s how they compare.

DESIGN

Nobu Ryokan. The intimate 16-room retreat is built like a traditional Japanese inn, with onsen-style soaking tubs and linen yukata robes in each room. Sliding glass doors form the only barrier between you and Malibu’s Carbon Beach. At night, it’s often warm enough to leave them open to invite the sea breeze — meaning you may also wake up to a view of dolphins frolicking in the morning waves of the Pacific. The entire property is so quiet and serene, you may never see another guest for the duration of your stay.

Waldorf Astoria. Arrival at this glossy, art deco-style hotel is via a circular, Bentley-filled driveway nestled between Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards. The elegant structure makes a grand first impression even before you walk through the imposing lobby, with European-style settees, towering floral arrangements, and a crystal chandelier. Its 170 rooms are incredibly spacious, with commanding views looking over greenery toward Rodeo Drive. They have walk-in closets (yes, multiple) that are practically the size of a New York apartment and walls as thick as a bank vault’s. Everything is heavy and ample to the touch, from the front door to the thick drapes to the plush, velvety bathrobes. Fresh flowers add to the feeling that this, indeed, is a special place.

STAYING THE NIGHT

Nobu Ryokan. It’s easy to miss the driveway when you first arrive at the Ryokan — seclusion is a double-edged sword — but the experience is mostly seamless, otherwise. Check-in is surprisingly informal for such an expensive hotel: Staffers greet guests from behind a simple wooden table and gather room details via iPad. And without a gym, room service, or a spa, the Ryokan relies heavily on the comfort of its rooms. Fortunately, the large, low beds offer immediate respite from the stimuli of daily life. And the jewel of each room, the Jerusalem limestone-clad bathroom, features a skylight and blond-wood Japanese soaking tub fit for two. The wooden pail and artisan salts set nearby are the kind of modest but indulgent details at which the Ryokan excels.

Waldorf Astoria. Every guest at the Waldorf is assigned a personal valet at check-in. They are reachable 24-7 via a dedicated phone number. And unlike butlers at many hotels — who wear smart uniforms but do little in the way of fulfilling personal requests — they will happily run errands of all shapes and sizes. (Need something delivered downtown at last-minute notice? No problem.)

As for the accommodations, the 119 deluxe rooms and 51 suites designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon are glamorous and stately, with floor-to-ceiling windows, expansive decks, and city views that extend for miles. Everything within eyesight looks and feels luxuriant—justifying the hotel’s $200 million price tag.

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