LA’s New Cara Hotel Brings Cool Medi Style to Thai Town / Los Feliz

If you live in New York or Chicago, or surely if you’re from temperature-challenged cities like Minneapolis or Montreal, even work trips to Los Angeles have always meant enjoying temperate, languid breakfasts by the pool, and business dinners on palm shaded sidewalks (with the occasional Zac Efron or Charlize Theron sighting). Back when we actually had real winters on the East Coast, this was certainly a meaningful thing.

But the new Cara Hotel, perched along N. Western Avenue where Thai Town meets Los Feliz – its address is officially counted in the latter – goes it one further, bringing sultry but relaxed Mediterranean vibes to La La Land. Originally built as a ’50s-era motel (there does seem to be a lot of those in LA, doesn’t there?) at the foothills of Griffith Park, the property’s swish 18-month makeover now finds it looking more like it might have been airlifted from Cannes or St Tropez. Indeed, the breezy minimalism here feels distinctly European, with dramatic ceiling arches, prodigious terra cotta pots, and a distinctly neo-classical looking poolside fountain in the courtyard. (We strongly feel that hotels need more fountains.)

The 60 rooms are clean, modern and very white, but elegant and welcoming rather than just stark and cold – with even a here and there antiquey looking piece to add a refined sort of warmth. Those looking out onto the courtyard come with balconies and palm tree views – which most definitely beats watching the endless LA traffic go by. And just so that guests don’t forget that they’re not actually on the French Riviera, iconic Los Angeles imagery by photographers Natalie Obradovich and Isabelle Aubin artfully adorns the walls in each chamber.

As for the name, well, Cara isn’t actually a person – but the word is instead the Gaelic translation of “friend.” And it carries on over to the eponymous eatery (helmed by Exec Chef Michael Patria, formerly of the Four Seasons Santa Barbara), which operates under a you-can-feel-good-about-eating-here ideology, including the sourcing of ingredients from biodynamic and organic local farmers. The resulting menu feels decidedly Cali, but is also replete with pleasant surprises: Yucatecan Ceviche, White Asparagus Bisque, Grilled Maitake Mushroom Conserva, and Maine Lobster Omelette w/ Taragon. And speaking of the South of France, Cara the restaurant notably features the biodynamic, estate grown wines of Aix-en-Provence’s Château la Coste. (There’s also the Cara Bar & Coffee, which highlights local distilleries in its cocktail offerings.)

Of course, as the NYC/LA travel corridor opens back up, after sixteen months of COVID-imposed restrictions, new hotel and restaurant openings certainly add a dash of excitement to the return of the regular mediarati exchange between the two cities. And considering the anxieties and stresses of the last year-and-a-half, the Cara’s invitingly laid-back cool seems like just what we need right now.

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