It’s not everyday you spot a helicopter buzzing around Los Angeles at eye-level. Dramatic and impressive, the check-in at the sky lobby of InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown is an astounding way to usher in the guest experience at this (almost) one-year-old luxury hotel; reception is placed on the 70th floor, surrounded by enormous floor-to-ceiling glass windows pulling in the jaw-dropping, far-reaching panoramic view that takes in everything from the Hollywood sign and Santa Monica to the San Gabriel Mountains and Beverly Hills. The property, fitted into the 73-storey Wilshire Grand Center Building between the 31st and 73rd floor, dominates the city’s skyline at 1,100 feet and overlooks everything definitive about L.A as it dwarfs nearby skyscrapers and iterates just how invigorating the perfect panorama can be for intrepid spirits in a city as storied as this.
Location is perfect. The 889-room hotel is positioned as an ideal, central access point to the complex urban hub that is Downtown (AKA “DTLA”) and is only around a 25-30 minute drive from LAX. The often misunderstood neighbourhood is teeming with fresh new properties thanks to the swift makeover that has swept Downtown over the past few years, focused in and around the buzzing entertainment district dubbed L.A Live and the many museums – both new and established – spread out nearby, plus essentials like the Staples Center and L.A Convention Center. Music lovers will definitely want to check out the thoughtful Grammy Museum (which hosts surprise performances by big name artists every now and then), and art enthusiasts will find themselves spending hours at The Broad as well as beloved institutions like MOCA and the Chinese American Museum. Foodies are also spoiled with many of Downtown’s trendiest restaurants nearby, plus the famed Grand Central Market. For convenience sake, the hotel is located right across the road from underground plaza FIGat7th, which hosts a number of casual eats like Five Guys and California Pizza Kitchen in addition to a Target, Zara, Gold’s Gym, H&M, and T Mobile.
This is the tallest building west of Chicago, and ambitiously the tallest InterContinental property in all of the Americas. Of course those breathtaking views are going to be used to no end in just about every corner of the hotel, from the lobby bathrooms (the mens has a glass wall urinal, because why not?) and all three premium restaurants, to the breezy guest rooms and the comfy Club InterContinental lounge. But not even these corners can’t quite match up to the proverbial cherry on top: Spire 73, the tallest open-air bar in all of the Western Hemisphere. The hotel’s owners, Korean Air, have obviously decided L.A’s swanky lifestyle needs a more-is-more approach. As such, Spire 73 is a sprawling, exciting space with many areas, outdoor fireplaces, designer seating and tall glass panes to protect guests from the inevitable gusts of wind. It’s no wonder then that this hotel has become a big-ticket destination for ritzy L.A locals, with Spire 73 firmly established as an “it” scene unto itself.
Though Spire is most definitely the hotel’s major playing card when it comes to the local social scene, InterCon’s three restaurants and lobby bar are evidently popular destinations. First you’ve got contemporary American steakhouse with a French twist La Boucherie with its upscale interiors and whopping 1,200-deep wine display, then high-end sushi and omakase experience Sora Sushi, and finally buffet-style all-day restaurant Dekkadance – where the generous breakfast spread can be found every morning, boosted by six cooking stations pumping out everything from fresh pizzas and French toast to pancakes and fancied bagels. Although the guest rooms are so comfortable you will probably want to just round up a loaded eggs benedict and enjoy it from bed.
My Club Suite was a homely and exceptionally clean one-bedroom apartment, opening into a spacious living area, continuing through an even larger bedroom, and ending in a decadent marble bathroom that truly felt like royal treatment, from the sleek marble tub and separate rain shower to the dual sink vanity mirror fixed with a small LED TV of its own. The minimal, functional design is consistent with the chic aesthetic spread through the guest room, and even though the furniture used is comparatively plain and uninspiring, the classic scheme works well as a whole. This is no doubt helped by the floor-to-ceiling windows dancing across the lounge room and bedroom. As mentioned above, those views are used to great effect throughout the hotel; awaking to clear, uninterrupted views scanning the Hollywood Hills and DTLA while natural light pours in is pure joy. When the sun drops, smart ambient lighting can be controlled via a single touchpad either from the entrance or beside the lounge, but the best lights are the ones that come from outside – L.A’s nightscape sure is a stunner at night, and looking down upon all those brightened buildings and scattered helipads is a sight well worth taking your time for.
Room amenities are modern and expected of a five-star hotel, running across essentials like an Espresso machine and premium bath products (Le Labo for Club rooms; Agraria for standard rooms), sitting next to modern technology such as that aforementioned light control panel and non-room details that make the hotel function smoothly, like smart high-speed double-decker elevators so fast (and quiet) they can zip guests from street-level to the 70th floor in about 30-40 seconds.
Take your time to appreciate the smaller details that make the guest room experience what it is. The king size bed may look rather standard but the linens are superb and silky smooth; combine this with what is perhaps the most comfortable hotel robe of all time (at least as far as my experience goes) and you’ll find it very difficult to get out of bed in the morning, even if you’ve got an appointment down at the massive state-of-the-art fitness centre.
The hotel’s frame is filled in with thoughtful details and loving nods towards L.A’s landscape. Not only do you have those stretchy views maximised everywhere you look, but there’s plenty of art and architectural homages to the City of Angels. In the guest rooms one would find stylish contemporary billboard-like headboards of L.A landmarks or defining features, while common areas are decked with odes to the area. In fact, every element of the hotel’s design is said to borrow from architectural historian Reyner Banham and his book “Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies”.
Most notable is the piece above reception, a rope-like chandelier that’s more an art installation, featuring interconnecting strings made up of what looks like large beads mapping out and flipping the point where the 10 and 110 freeways intersect nearby. Translating something so urban into something so abstract is a nice, pointed metaphor for the style of this InterContinental, and contrasts with the more on-the-nose mural down at the porte cochère, that which depicts the silhouette of the local area.
To complete the scene, a 7th floor rooftop pool and intimate al fresco bar, open to the public and officially titled the No Dive Bar, seems a good a place as any to relax without the crowds. It’s not as lavish and ambitious as what’s at the very top of the building, but the spacious pool and separate hot tub is tucked far enough away from the rest of the hotel that it feels like a genuinely relaxing escape. The fashionable scene is best experienced from one of the shady cabanas or rocking in one of the cosy swing chairs.
A quick trawl through the relevant parts of the internet mostly echo the fact that this is one of the best hotels L.A has seen in quite some time. With the ongoing changes around DTLA, it makes sense that InterContinental would want to put one of their best feet forward, and they most certainly have with a hotel that relies on it’s immaculate hospitality and guest experience as much as the enviable views.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The average nightly rate for a room at InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown is AUD $379.
Address: 900 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90017, USA
Contact: +1 213-688-7777
The writer stayed as a guest of IHG Group.
Feature image supplied.