Why you don't need a car in West Hollywood

Credit to Author: Dave Pottinger| Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2020 19:58:24 +0000

When you think of L.A., walkable isn’t a characteristic that immediately springs to mind. But West Hollywood is aiming to change that.

Consistently rated the most walkable city in California since 2011 by Walk Score (a private firm indexing communities by ease of walkability), West Hollywood is the place in L.A. where you can easily ditch the car and don your sneakers.

Here you can stroll the 3 km of restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, shops and galleries that make up the area, including the design-forward mecca that is the Design District.

The epi centre of high-caliber design, art, fashion and dining, the Design District has transformed the streets between Melrose Ave., Beverly Blvd. and N. Robertson Blvd., into a mix of trendsetting flagship stores, local boutiques, chic eateries, art galleries, creative studios, interior design and furniture showrooms, all concentrated in an easily-walkable few blocks.

Anchoring the area on Melrose at the corner of San Vicente Boulevard is the behemoth Pacific Design Centre (PDC to locals), known as the Blue Whale. The multi-use commercial art and design space boasts the largest concentration of furniture showrooms on the West Coast, housing around 100 boutiques dedicated to interior design.

Here’s a walking guide of the area. Other recommended walks and maps can be found on the WeHo to Go guidebook at visitwesthollywood.com.


Grab a java at Verve Coffee Roasters, the Melrose outpost of the hip Santa Cruz coffee house, then head out to the galleries and shops.


Coffee at Verve Coffee Roasters on Melrose is a great place to kick off a tour of West Hollywood’s Design District. Vanessa Pinniger

Celebrity fave designer Jenni Kayne’s first store is located just off Melrose on North Almont. Her, pared-down design esthetic, using natural materials and monochromatic palette, is quintessential California cool. Pick up a copy of her latest book Pacific Natural for ideas on laidback entertaining and living well.

The super avantgarde Maxfield concept boutique on Melrose is worth a visit for its one-of-a-kind vintage and luxury fashion. The store was founded by Tommy Perse, father of James whose own shop sits just across the street.

The first U.S. outpost of French interior design store LeClaireur on N. Robertson is a showroom spread over three floors of what feels like a très chic Parisian townhouse, complete with private event space on top.

Objets d’art on display at LeClaireur. Vanessa Pinniger

Back on Melrose, you’ll pass the scene-y CATCH LA and venerable Cecconi’s – two celebrity hot spots, with paparazzi often camped out in front, waiting for a star sighting.

Have a bite on the patio at French-inspired bistro Zinqué. The menu reads like a Parisienne café but the dish to try is ‘Le Bowl’ with Ahi Tuna or grilled salmon. Call it Cali-fresh French fare.

You’ll need to make an appointment to visit the Robert Kuo Gallery at the corner of Melrose and San Vicente Blvd. but it is worth the effort. The airy showroom features beautiful decorative Chinese lacquer and bronze pieces, cloisonné and Peking glass, all designed by Kuo and inspired by his travels.

Kuo sits in one of the Chinese lacquer chairs designed by her father at the Robert Kuo Gallery. Vanessa Pinniger

Don’t miss the flagship RH West Hollywood on Melrose, a 40,000-square-foot gallery of the store’s timeless classic furnishings. The third-floor rooftop garden is actually a public space, with olive trees, fire pits, fountains and cushy outdoor furniture, which the City of West Hollywood asked for in exchange for the zoning rights of the property, formerly an office space. A lovely respite.

Chic local boutiques, like Emily Current and Meritt Elliott’s latest iteration The Great, sit alongside sought-after retailers, innovative concept stores and high-end resale on Melrose Ave., making this a unique shopping destination, with something for every budget and taste.

Locally designed and made clothing are the latest iteration from the team behind Current Elliot at The Great on Melrose Avenue. Vanessa Pinniger

Just off Melrose on Norwich Drive is RetroSpecs’ & Co., an optical store specializing in an edited line of handcrafted eyewear and collection of restored vintage frames from the early and late modern 20thcentury.

Next door is Soolip, Wanda Wen’s curated paper arts studio, filled with unique handcrafted cards, handmade paper and fine stationery.

For high-end designer shops, cross La Ceneiga, just beyond the Design District, for a stroll along the exclusive enclave of Melrose Place.

A white gate and brick garden path grace the entrance to Oscar de la Renta on tony Melrose Place. Vanessa Pinniger

With its posh designer boutiques (Marni, Chloe, Oscar de la Renta, Isabel Marant) tucked behind garden gates with climbing vines and lush gardens along two leafy blocks, and the only West Coast location of Santa Maria Novella, the 400-year-old Florentine pharmacy, the quiet little street packs a big fashion punch.

Stop at Moon Juice (popularized on Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP website) for a sampling of some of the brand’s unique ‘dusts’ – potent vitamin and antioxidants in powder form.

Take afternoon tea at the quaint Alfred Tea Room, one of three locations in the area of local caffeinator Alfred Coffee, who coined the tagline “But first, coffee” (the others are Alfred on Melrose Place and Alfred in the Alley). Sip a cup of loose-leaf tea and nibble a yummy pastry in the perfectly pink space – a staple on Instagram since opening in 2016.

At the Michelin-recommended vegan eatery Gracias Madre, Mexican cuisine is taken to a new level by chef Chandra Gilbert’s use of purely plant-based, locally grown, organic ingredients. Tacos are transformed with barbequed jackfruit and traditional cheese dishes reimagined with cashew crema. The chef’s tasting menu makes it easy to try a little of everything but be forewarned the portions are generous. Request a table on the patio, settle in with one of their killer margs and enjoy people watching at its best.


The swish Kimpton La Peer Hotel is just the right blend of designer chic and understated elegance, reflecting the refined yet relaxed style of West Hollywood,

Tucked between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue on tiny La Peer Drive in the heart of the Design District, the 105-room upscale boutique property reflects the neighbourhood’s emphasis on art, architecture, design and fashion and attracts a design-savvy, fashionable crowd.

Just steps from the buzzy action, this intimate hideaway is an urban oasis – a lovely place to return to at the end of the day. Plush sectionals and inviting spaces in the relaxed lobby “living room,” where a complimentary wine hour takes place daily, make this feel like a relaxed California home. Just off the lobby is chef Casey Lane’s Viale dei Romani restaurant, serving Italian-meets-Moroccan fare for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Happy hour cocktails at the pool bar from 5 to 6 p.m. are the perfect way to unwind, as is the huge spa-inspired soaker tub in the room. lapeerhotel.com

The writer travelled as a guest of West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board, who neither reviewed nor approved this article before publication.