I attended a wedding at the Ritz –Carlton Marina 20 years ago and I remember thinking to myself back then, this place would really be cool if it were a little younger. Well, I got older and it finally got younger. They’ve moved away from their exclusive – country club vibe – to a younger, professional crowd. It’s not quite hipster young, but you get the feeling it very well could be if hipsters were a little older. The hotel sits on the rim of the man made marina, tucked in on Admiralty Way.
The Lobby Lounge has been reborn. The décor is much more Restoration Hardware with lots of cherry red and mahogany. Classic art still adorn the walls and the gift shop is not really a place for real gifts. The staff still expects you to look and behave in a high-end kinda way. No sloppy drunks or sports bar volume type of conversations. No one’s going to regulate you; the atmosphere forces you to police yourself.
The appetizer menu covers all the bases – from scallops to mini burgers and then some. Need a nice spot to write your plan on how to change the world or – maybe, a place to wait while the world changes? The lobby fireplace is the spot to loosen your tie or meet for a cocktail on a weeknight.
Keep in mind – they still cater to the Louis XIII cognac crowd so don’t be fooled – when you visit, makes sure your wallet is very healthy.
Nightlife in Los Angeles offers plenty of options depending upon your mood. There are hundreds of establishments willing to make you wait in line because nothing attracts a crowd better than – seeing a crowd. It’s the Macintosh Apple store approach to marketing; create buzz by offering limited exclusivity. Yes, it still works but no, it no longer works on me. I’ll take a Sex and The City rerun or a Los Angeles Clipper victory over an artificial line any evening. Yup – I’m too old to stand in line.
I say all that because, there’s a spot worth waiting for even though they have no lines. The Hudson Bar in West Hollywood may be one of the best happy hour spots in town. Located on a small corner lot on Crescent Heights Blvd and Santa Monica – it is a grown up experience. A restaurant disguised as a bar is the best way to envision the experience. They offer a full bar along with reserved seating if you’d like to dine.
Happy hour is a can not miss, but this place really shines in the evening. The crowd on this night was young, hip and progressive with plenty of lively conversation throughout. Now, when I say lively conversation – I mean to say, loud. If you’re looking for an intimate discussion, this isn’t the choice you want to make. The menu is broad and appealing with perfect portions sizes. Nothing is too much or overly offensive; the food won’t spill off your plate. Everything
is priced just right. I vouch for BBQ burger.
The décor is sleek with two enormous trees running through the dinning area. Yes, restaurants grow around trees. Parking offers two options: valet or finding a spot in the surrounding neighborhood. There’s also two hour meters, but you’ll be there longer than 2 hours – trust me.
As a child of the MTV generation, I can appreciate the motivation of the youth movement and the frenzied nightlife that caters to them. The Hudson feels more like VH1 – a bit more refined with a focus on a mature mid tempo rhythm. This place manages to be cool without trying to be cool.
No gimmicks. Walk in. Order a drink. Have a meal. Have a great time.