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Stylish stays – California edition

Right, it’s time for the next stop on my fantasty Stylish Stays tour, and this time I’m heading to the cultural city centres of California! Well, it is just a short hop, skip and a jump from the desert vacation homes I was drooling over before…

California is one of those places that feels ‘familiar’ to me even though I’ve never visited before. Whenever I picture myself there I’m transported to the bustling Beverly Hills shopping malls and palatial-style mansions of Clueless, the downtown L.A. of 500 Days of Summer, the sweeping San Franciscan waterfront of Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, surrealist sights of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, and the technicolour musical vista of La La Land. And let’s not forget about the long sandy beaches and leafy hillside homes of The O.C.! So much of the popular media we consume these days is set against the backdrop of sunny Pacific coastline, it’s impossible not to have developed romanticised daydream-like notions of what a vacation there might look like.

So, whilst the notion of physical travel feels like just such a daydream right now, here are five of the most stylish Californian hotels I’m fantasising about laying my head one day… fingers crossed, eh?!

Santa Monica Proper

Santa Monica, CA

I’m not one for the traditional American take on a ‘luxury hotel’, but I am definitely drawn to the “looser kind of luxury” on offer at Santa Monica Proper. Finding inspiration in the organic tones and textures of the local coastline, interior designer Kelly Wearstler has imbued the decor with plenty of natural wood, organic textures and handwoven textiles. I love the variety of sandy neutrals at play in the hotel at large, and the incredible number of different tones and hues that bring each area to life with it’s own unique style. There’s not an angular corner in sight, with soft flowing curves the order of the day everywhere from the headboards, sofas and cabinetry in the bedrooms, to the towering archways and array of bulbous, mismatched, seating options in it’s jaw-droppingly stylish restaurant, Onda, which looks like an achingly-cool place to hang out…

California decor style to steal: the abundance of curves has me coveting rounded edges everywhere, while that dramatic arc-shaped padded headboard has me scratching my head figuring out how to recreate one for my own bedroom with my limited DIY skills! I’m also considering painting our skirting and door frames in a sunny tangerine hue, and love the idea of wallpapering just the bottom half  (or three-quarters) of a room – a particularly good idea since our apartment has double-height ceilings…

hotel Joaquin 

Laguna Beach, CA

Nestled above Shaw’s Cove in Laguna Beach, Hotel Joaquin describes itself as “a gem hidden in plain sight along the Pacific’s rich coastline, marrying the breezy spirit of a faraway island escape with the pioneering soul of California.” I love the clean simplicity of their neutral-hued suites, which have been individually styled with one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, customised furniture and curated artwork. I’m especially drawn to the luxurious feel of the spacious bathrooms, which each feature monolithic stone fixtures and  hand-cut tiling, which pays homage the timeless work of coastal craftsmen. In the bar downstairs I love the smooth wooden ceiling beams and chunky Pierre Jeanneret dining chairs with rattan detailing, and the eclectic mix of artwork, vinyl and books on display. It’s a warm, sunny space that feels inviting and cosy, where you can sit for hours soaking up the atmosphere – and that view! – with a cocktail in hand.

California decor style to steal: more warm, sun-drenched neutral hues throughout; a soft layering of tactile creamy woven cushions; wardrobes with inlaid rattan panelling (so chic!); bathroom tiles in the same soft pastel hue but contrasting shapes (oblong vs square) on the floor and walls; vinyl covers and spines of books displayed as decorative pieces of art.

Silver Lake Pool & Inn

Silverlake, CA

Silver Lake is touted as one of the most exciting neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles, with an active art and music scene and an abundance of indie shops, galleries and cafés, making it just the kind of place I love to explore! Silver Lake Pool & Inn, an outdated 1980’s motel recently reborn as a stylish boutique hotel by Palisociety, looks to be to be the perfect place to base myself. I’m definitely seduced by that elevated pool deck with glorious riviera-style parasols and views as far as the eye can see, and the assortment of vintage furnishings and curios – many from local artisans – that Venice-based design studio Electric Bowery have curated to infuse the space with a Mexican modernist meets SoCal vibe. I’m also totally sold on the Marco Polo trattoria and bar serving up all-day Aperol spritz and coastal Italian cuisine with a California spin – sounds delicious! 

California decor style to steal: I love the terrazzo nightstands and vanities by Concrete Collaborative, the boxy low-slung Spanish armchairs by Børge Mogensen, and the stunning ochre-hued mosaic tiling that adorns the bedroom window sills and inlaid feature wall by the pool. I’m also always a fan of cacti and houseplants displayed in raffia baskets, and love a stylish long bolster pillow atop a freshly-made bed!

Hotel Covell

Los Feliz, CA

Hotel Covell is an intimate hideaway set above a bustling wine bar in the Los Feliz neighbourhood, offering nine unique suites that are styled more like home-from-home apartments than classic hotel rooms. The quirky interior, styled by Sally Breer of Etc.etera, has been themed to depict a chapter in the life a globe-trotting fictional character named George Covell. For example, Chapter One is inspired by the rustic charm and earthy warmth of the American Midwest, while Chapter Two is reminiscent of the New York bachelor apartment Covell supposedly lived in during the 1950’s. The soft textures and bright bohemian decor of Chapter 3 are styled to mimic  a 1960’s Parisian apartment, while the decor of Chapter 5 is inspired by a combination of French charm and New York aesthetics, mixed with the playful vibe of the 1970’s. Sophisticated and bold, Chapter 8 would probably be my suite of choice; a refined turn-of-the-century style space that oozes laid-back glamour and looks light, fresh and airy.

California decor style to steal: I love all the bold swathes of navy blue, especially in the kitchen – it will always be one of my favourite interior decor accent hues – and I’m definitely lusting after a statement headboard now! I particularly adore that padded pastel pink number.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs

Palm Springs, CA

The last stop on my California tour sees us head back out into the desert, this time to Palm Springs – because there is absolutely no way I could leave a trip to this mid-century modern resort city off our road trip agenda! Ace Hotel & Swim Club, a 173-room hotel housed in a former Westward Ho motel and Denny’s diner, may be a obvious accomodation choice, but for good reason. Designed by Los Angeles based design firm Commune, the interior steers clear of overtly vintage-style 1950’s decor from Palm Springs’ so-called heyday, and instead weaves elegant mid-century touches through a predominantly neutral canvas of whitewashed Mesozoic stonewalls and polished concrete.

California decor style to steal: tactile textured walls – everything from whitewashed wooden slats to asymetric breeze blocks to canvassed cladding; herringbone upholstery; handcrafted woven wall hangings; and more statement headboards, this time padded with hardworking American-blue denim.


All imagery © respective hotels

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