To commemorate pride, 17-years of friendship, and being native Angelenos, my best friend Emily and I booked a short Downtown LA staycation at Hotel Indigo last weekend. When we first met, I was 15-years old, and she was 14; we met playing Water Polo (this is basically it's own punchline on a.) being gay, b.) being from LA), and quickly developed a friendship that was probably mostly based on gaydar, but that we masked as a love for alternative music (but to be fair, there weren't a ton of people in our Jewish prep school who were openly interested in either). In the early days, outside of water polo practice, our friendship mostly lived on AOL Instant Messenger, where I one day logged on, messaged Emily, and said, "dude, I think I like girls." She responded a few minutes later with "that's gross. never talk to me about that again," and then just two weeks later, followed up with, "JK, I think I like girls too." Yes, this is literally our shared coming-out story, (one of many, actually. It’s a common misconception that there’s only one.)
In those years of trying to understand ourselves, our friendship, and our identities, we'd drive around LA taking pictures in different neighborhoods and perching on hilltops to find the best views of our hometown. We'd drive along Sunset as far east as we could, listening and scream-singing to angsty music and doing our best to make sure the other never felt alone. We were too young, then, to go to any of the gay bars all across LA, and instead found home in the aisles of Amoeba Music and the backs of the few seedy concert venues that actually sold all-ages tickets. In the last few years, having both made our way back to LA, it's been fun to revisit some of those old haunts and add new ones to our rotation - all while actually being fully-formed adults in touch with who we are as individuals.
I was having pretty intense FOMO last weekend, what was the official Pride weekend of New York & San Francisco, so it seemed like the perfect time for Emily and I to get together and have a dedicated bestie weekend. I live for staycations (they've brought me a lot of sanity in a year where I've had minimal time or opportunity to take real breaks or vacations), and I loved that Hotel Indigo's new LA location is located in such a historic part of Downtown, right around the corner from The Pantry. It was the perfect backdrop for a weekend of venturing out into the Arts District, Echo Park, and making our way to (newer) gay bars like Mattachine and Precinct, and also staying in for face masks and slumber party vibes with Frankie (since it's also super, super pet-friendly). The rooms are super-spacious, bright, and outfitted with modern & tech friendly touches like USB plug-ins throughout - and the bathroom vanity was perfect to spread out all our toiletries and beauty accoutrement to pamper ourselves. Oh, and yes - there's also a pool.
So one of the things that made this staycation at Hotel Indigo particularly special is that the brand offers a Pride Package, which includes a bottle of champagne, pride merch, and a late 3PM check-out - something that's particularly enticing if you're going to any of their participating locations to celebrate Pride in that city. The Hotel Indigo in Los Angeles even had a series of rooftop pool parties during Pride weekend, which hosted a diverse mix of people from across the community. The package is available through October so you can continue celebrating Pride all summer long!
The vibe throughout the hotel is all about promoting discovery and paying homage to the neighborhood and its location; it felt so cool to see historic images of DTLA reflected throughout Hotel Indigo's modern, open-space with nods to Downtown LA's art-deco and Hollywood regency roots, with high-shine brass and oversized streetscape murals. What better way to interlude into the hotel's immediate surroundings and explore?
FOOD & DRINKS
DTLA has a really vibrant and incredible food scene, from major landmarks like The Pantry, to World-Famous food trucks like Mariscos Jalisco (one of Emily and Jonathan Gold's favorites), to Grand Central Market, to beautifully modern, grand spaces like Bottega Louie. On our first night, we started at a standby favorite of ours in neighboring Echo Park, Winsome. They have cute outdoor seating with string-lights overhead, and a gluten-free/veggie-friendly menu at the foothills of Elysian Park. The following morning, we brunched at Redbird, which is located in the former rectory space of what was one of LA's oldest cathedrals. We spent our afternoons in the Arts District and Little Tokyo (grabbing coffee at Groundworks and ice cream at Salt & Straw), and ended our day with a stroll through Grand Central Market, which has something for everyone and features a taste of LA's cultural diversity.
I grew up shopping in Downtown LA's fashion district (especially the infamous Santee Alley) with my mom as a child, and needless to say, DTLA's shopping landscape has changed a lot since then. It kind of shocked (and delighted?) me to walk around with Emily and see 3.1 Phillip Lim finding a home in the Arts District - among other neighborhood gems like Alchemy Works and Sacred Light (because, really, is there anything more quintessential "LA" in 2018 than a shop that sells ethically sourced crystals and beautifully illustrated Tarot decks?) One of my favorite DTLA destinations is Hauser + Wirth gallery, and while we didn't make it inside to tour the art - I always make a point of stopping into their book store, which has the most incredible curated collection of art, culture, theory, and cooking books.
I feel pretty damn lucky that I have so many long-lasting friendships, and have people in my life who have seen me through so many different life stages and milestones and events. Emily and I experienced so many firsts together -- our first pride, first trips abroad, exchanging stories of our first girlfriends and first loves -- and it felt so special to have time and space to reflect on all of the history we've shared. I know we're going to, literally, be friends for the rest of our lives -- and taking a little weekend to be together and laugh about our 17-years of memories was pretty great. Thank you so much to Hotel Indigo for giving us an excuse to revel in our friendship.