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Los Angeles: The Sassy Mama City Guide

TravelPost Category - TravelTravel
Describe LA in 3 words
Relaxed, sprawling and entertaining.
Best hotel in LA when travelling with kids?

We spend part of our annual California summer trip staying at the Chateau Marmont, and while it’s probably not a traditional bastion for travellers with kids, my family loves it. Most of the hotel staff,  including the fantastic General Manager Phil Pavel, have been there forever and welcome us back us each year with such warmth that it really feels like our home away from home. I have so many great memories wrapped up in the place from single girl business trips and staying during my honeymoon, to late evenings with friends to making black and white 8mm iphone movies with my sons. The best parts? Vintage style kitchens in the suites, personalised stationary on your desk, ping pong by the fabulously old school pool and according to my sons the best spaghetti bolognaise in the world! Worst part?Having to check out, our stay is never long enough!

Your favourite place to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? Why?
Breakfast: If I’m not enjoying the Chateau Marmont’s delicious huevous rancheros in the quiet lobby lounge, then i’ll head to Huckleberry for their stylish ‘green eggs and ham’ or Square One for bacon-enriched caramel sauce drizzled on pancakes.

Lunch: While the chopped salad at The Ivy on Robertson is as famous as the gimlets are strong, its the people watching that make this perennial LA hotspot so fun. If you can find a member to take you to Soho House go, as the garden terrace and views over the city are breathtaking. For casual dining, I can’t get enough of the yummy Mexican food at Loteria Grill especially the cactus salad and shrimp tacos.

Dinner: The garden of the Chateau Marmont with its gothic arches, candlelight and great atmosphere is our regular spot for drinking and dining. Roy Choi’s A Frame in Culver City with its communal dining and beer can chicken has some of the most innovative cooking, while La Poubelle with the lovely Françoise presiding over it, is one of the most fun places to dine in LA – make sure you order the crispy truffle Brussels leaves.

What is your favourite thing to do with your kids in LA?
BBQ’s at a friends place. Our dear friend, PR extraordinaire Marilyn Heston, who despite her own house having flooded, threw a really fun one at her rental in the Hollywood Hills for friends from Canada, Australia and France. It was the perfect combination of great food, amazing views and fun people.

Kid friendly museum?The Getty Museum. Kids love the train ride up to the grounds and the family art programmes that vary depending on the time, are great to do together. LACMA is also great with older kids.

Best places to eat with kids?
My kids love In-N-Out Burger for a quick take away fix (act like a local and ask for animal fries) but if you are going to sit and eat, it’s Umami Burger all the way. The Farm of Beverly Hills gets my kid’s vote for breakfast, while tracking down the Kogi Truck (Korean BBQ to go) for US$2 short rib tacos, Pacman burgers and Kogi Kimchi Quesadillas is another favourite for dinner. If you are out in Malibu, either book at table at The Malibu Cafe at Calamigos Ranch in the Malibu mountains. The kids can paddleboat on the lake and play pool in the open… while the adults enjoy the Californian cuisine. If you are enjoying Malibu’s Lumberyard and Country Mart shopping, then book a table on the patio of Tra Da Noi which overlooks the Country Mart play area so once the kids are done eating they can play while you enjoy a glass of wine! The Brentwood Country Marthas fantastic fried chicken and while they eat you can shop!Best outdoor activity? We love hiking Runyon Canyon with friends early in the morning, going on pony rides in Griffith park and hanging out at Paradise Cove in Malibu.

Favourite spa?
Natura Korean Spain the basement of the old I. Magnin building on Wilshire, for scrubs, Shiatsu-style massage, oil massage, minifacial  and hair wash plus steam rooms and cold baths. Stay in your robe after for bibimbap or freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juice. Anastasia Beverly Hills on North Bedford Drive is the place for eyebrow waxing. Ask for Alexandra.I get my hair done at… Sally Hershberger. Guy Riggio for cut (clients include Michele Williams and Jessica Biel) while Lisa Oliver is the colour expert (clients include Ellen Pompeo, Marcia Cross and Michelle Pfeiffer).

The three shops I can’t live without are… Trader Joes, Wholefoods and Book Soup.

Who I have on my speed dial and why… The Concierge team at the Chateau Marmontwho make sure the family and I are always taken care of. No request is ever a hassle… from restaurant bookings to finding obscure kids activities – they are always on it.

Best Nanny Service?
Heather Rash at Westside Nanniesis fantastic at finding the right nanny for visiting families, whether you just want evening babysitting or something more full time, they are the gold standard in nanny placement.

Best place for Ice Cream: Milk, despite its late night queues is a must. From banana dulce deleche almond ice cream cakes to sundaes, floats and frozen cookies… this ice cream parlour and bakeshop have taken dessert to another level.

Cupcakes: Joan’s on Third do the most amazing Snickers cupcakes, while Frosted Cupcakery has crazy flavours including honey-sweet bacon cornbread alongside the regular chocolate, red velvet and vanilla offerings.
Doughnuts: People drive to Glendora especially for the Donut Man’s delicious doughnuts, oozing with ripe strawberries or apple. But best of all is the Tiger Tail, a glazed chocolate and vanilla braid.

Your favourite souvenirs?
Lakers or Dodgers baseball caps! But for souvenirs with a more fashion slant Kitson has everything gift related – the cushions by Catstudio make a fun memento.

An unforgettable moment?
Being taken to watch a Dodgers Game by our great friends, the Leddel family. Seeing my boys all dressed in Dodgers t-shirts, with Dodgers logos painted on their faces, eating garlic fries and Dodger dogs with the Leddel kids. Cheering for Matt Kemp and ducking to avoid the kiss cam was brilliant.

Can’t live without… The Leddels! My girl Tom Tom, who along with her husband Eric are such fun to hang out with and will always be my inside track to LA.

Don’t miss… Taking the kids to Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Centre and to the La Brea Tar Pits. If your kids are older check out the Watts Towers.

Favourite time of year in LA, why and what do you love to do?
I love the summer with its endless blue skies and days spent lazing by the pool while the kids eat snowcones.

What advice would you give families visiting?
Book as much online and in advance, especially if you are planning to do the amusement parks. Don’t be put off by driving, LA is an easy city to navigate and most places have a valet service. Try and remember LA is more than just Hollywood and Beverly Hills so plan to see other places.

Of all the tourist spots LA has on offer which would you try not to miss?
The Hollywood sign, its so iconic and you get a perfect view near Lake Hollywood Park.

Tell us one thing about we don’t know about LA?
Los Angeles is the birthplace of these iconic objects: the hula hoop, the Barbie doll (no surprise there), the chaise long and the Fender Stratocaster. Capitol Records Tower was the world’s first circular office building.

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