Openings: The Downtown LA Proper Hotel
For the longest time – actually, during most of the last twenty years of Downtown Los Angeles trying, and sometime failing, to build a new identity for itself – the Standard on Flower Street was pretty much the only hotel for the kool kats to stay in. Fast forward to, well, now, and you can’t swing a dead palm tree without hitting a hipster hospitality brand down here. Indeed, the Ace opened in the old California Petroleum Corporation Building in 2014, and was quickly followed by the NoMad, the Freehand and the Indigo, all within several city blocks of one another.
Now comes the Downtown LA Proper Hotel (opening later this summer), part of a new-ish mini-chain that belongs to the Kor Group, with properties already in Austin, San Francisco, and Santa Monica; it’s also a member of the curated booking site Tablet Hotels. It’s particularly notable for benefitting from the aesthetic magical touch of none other than Kelly Wearstler, who arguably helped set off this new generation of design wars when the Viceroy Santa Monica opened in 2000 (it’s now undergoing a $21 million renovation). The debut of the Proper was unsurprisingly delayed by conditions of the pandemic.
The new hotel also happens to be located in a landmarked structure, a red-brick, Renaissance Revival stunner dating to 1926, designed by the prolific Curlett & Beelman – which was originally a private club, and most recently a YMCA. But Wearstler’s signature lux-eclecticism is eschewed here for something a bit more Western rustic. As ever, she brings patterns and prints together to sometimes startling effect; but the interiors feel more antique-y than contemporary, and slightly more masculine than feminine.
The 148 rooms epitomize the stylistic mission, with a vintagey vibe, muted tones, marble tables, custom furnishings, Moroccan-inspired tiled baths, and yet some surprising juxtapositions; to wit, seemingly clashing prints on rugs and bed coverings that ultimately harmonize in unexpected ways. Generous windows frame the historic Downtown skyline. Fascinatingly, both an old basketball court and a former indoor pool have been re-imagined as signature suites (and yes, said pool is integrated into the design of the latter.)
But the hotel will also surely be a galvanizer for scenesters and epicures. As to the latter, in-house modern-Medi restaurant Caldo Verde (offering veggie-driven market fare with Spanish, Moorish, Corsican and Portuguese influences) will be eminently helmed by James Beard Award-winning restaurateurs Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin, co-founders of the venerable Lucques Group. And the poolside Cara Cara Rooftop Restaurant-Bar & Lounge will spread out over a full 5000 square feet, complete with fire pit, an all-day SoCal menu, and unobstructed views in every direction.
Obviously, the 15-months of almost total shutdown of the LA – NYC flight corridor has left the mediarati eager for a return to serious face-to-face schmoozing and socializing. And, well, expect quite a bit of it to be going on at the Proper this summer.