Rocking Out Another COVID Plagued Year at the Dream Hollywood

It feels like a lifetime ago – it’s actually coming up on a very long two years – that we had our last fancy hotel bar drink before “mask mandates,” “anti-vaxers,” and “blah-blah variant” became part of our daily lexicon. We remember it well, March 12th 2020 – we’d left the office with a bag of personal items and the laptop as if we’d been let go, which in a way we had. On the way home we had our final pre-lockdown cocktails at the perpetually trendy Dream Downtown in NYC’s Meatpacking District – there was a lobby art exhibit by Saatchi, a press liaison, and the beverages were on the house. But we could feel what was coming…

The Dream opened all the way back in 2011, and with its extravagant design, as well as rooftop ‘beach’, was an immediate magnet for the late-night party set, a designation that it hasn’t shaken despite our more sober (read: Armageddony) times. New Dream hotels followed after in Miami, Nashville, and Los Angeles. It was thus a little bittersweet to find ourselves recently checking into the latter – the Dream Hollywood debuted in spring of 2017 – to get a firsthand look at how they were facing the challenges of our new safety-conscious era, while still managing to promote an air of that fabulous frivolity that has ever been a part of the brand’s DNA. One new development was named Alfred….we’ll explain later. 

We were in Tinseltown for the debut show of up-and-coming Cali-by-way-of-Mexico rocker Ratinoff at the legendarily decadent Whisky a Go Go, on the storied part of Sunset Blvd that includes the Viper Room and the Rainbow. And while it may be slightly less lawbreaking than it was when Motorhead and G’N’R were gracing its stages, it still offers a good whiff of classic debauchery. So the Dream was really the perfect home base for this outing. 

There’s a lot of je ne sais quoi when it comes to hotel design, each one trying to achieve a certain sort of fantasy effect, to remind you that you are not actually at home with your daily routine. We’re happy to report that the Dream Hollywood nails it all the way. Its compact but soaring lobby is distinguished from the street by a wall of glass, giving the illusion of stepping into a public space – the Cali sun followed us in where, after a quick look at the in-house and quite forward-thinking NFT art exhibition, a friendly receptionist had us in our room in minutes. Interiors hinted at LA midcentury modern, so we did our best Don Draper and got the martinis flowing. 

Having lived on the Lower East Side for years we were familiar with the retro glam of the Tao Group Hospitality‘s impossibly popular Beauty & Essex restaurant, which brought an early dose of fab to grimy Essex Street almost a decade ago. Its LA outpost amps up the spectacle with a cavernous space festooned with chandeliers and candles, creating an Aladdin’s den of elegance and sultry romance. Our dinner of Tuna Poke Wonton Tacos with cilantro, radish and wasabi kewpie, served in 3-bite-sized crispy shells, might have been the most perfect high-end party snack we’ve ever experienced. It was followed by Seared Scallop with sherry glazed smoked shiitake, toasted almond romesco wild rice, with orange caraway chili oil, on a large plate that allowed for custom mixing of the ingredients – giving a sort of ‘90s vibe (think the opening scene of American Psycho) to the presentation. And as we are all suddenly very aware, the ’90s are indeed back.

It should be noted that the hotel’s epicurean offerings don’t end there, with an epic outpost of the original Tao pan-Asian eatery that is pure theater, especially with its prodigious Quan Yin statue looking down over the always stylish crowd.

The following day and night were all about the rock show – and Ratinoff, in full Bono “Fly” mode, accompanied by Vixen’s guitar babe Britt Lightning, genuinely tore it up (BlackBook compared his music to that of U2 in a recent interview). With his brand of new wave spiked rock, the burgeoning star went full anthemic in the relatively intimate Whisky, prowling the stage as Ms. Lightning and drummer Pat Lundy (Rise To Remain) provided the formidable backing. Standout track ‘Better’ even had a few lighters being held high, a good sign in this time of so much lethargic indie rock. Afterwards we collapsed, a little worse for the wear and tear, into the sumptuous Dream bed overlooking DTLA to the east.

Groggily rising the next morning, a revivifying breakfast and coffee were much needed, and while the Dream’s Café was certainly in easy reach, a delivery was actually on the agenda – and that’s when we met Alfred. We expected the familiar knock of a room service waiter, but a text informed us that Alfred, the Dream’s on-site robot, was in the hall, breakfast in hand. It was our first interaction with a next level drone/Roomba, and he couldn’t have been more polite. And really, what’s not to like about a blinking three-foot-high machine in a metal tux? We could have probably even skipped the hastily thrown on robe, except maybe…cameras.

A post breakfast dip in the Dream’s rooftop pool, which is also the site of its Highlight Room bar and grill, helped put all our pieces back together, and we were soon stepping lively into the Hollywood morning, an as yet named sidewalk star conjuring fleeting, and irrational, fantasies. Not that that’s ever happened in Hollywood. 

(N.B. The Dream Hollywood has launched its extravagant Opulence & Omakase package, which includes a stay in the 1,750 square-foot GuestHouse, a $500 omakase experience prepared in-suite by a Tao LA chef, and a butler-drawn bubble with rose petals.)

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