An Insider’s Guide To LA

Alyssa Julya Smith is an American TV host, actress, model and entrepreneur. She’s lived in Los Angeles for 17 years – and knows exactly where to go, stay and eat in the city. From luxe hotels to cool shops and great restaurants, these are the places at the top of her list.
By Sherri Andrew
Photographer: Dara Danenberg


Hotel Bel Air

This is the ultimate exclusive hideaway for those who appreciate low-key glamour. The bungalows are nestled in lush gardens and there's even a swan lake upon arrival with, you guessed it, actual swans. With an amazing restaurant and a luxurious spa, this upscale canyon retreat is the perfect place to indulge in some rest and relaxation.


The Maybourne Beverly Hills

A beautiful hotel from the group behind Claridge’s and The Berkeley, The Maybourne has feminine interiors that feel fresh and modern. Set around beautiful gardens in the centre of LA, there’s an impressive rooftop pool with views over Rodeo Drive, and a picturesque patio and courtyard for dinning in the heart of Beverly Hills. 


Sunset Tower

The historic art-deco hotel of your dreams is right on Sunset Strip, offering breath-taking city views. It’s the perfect spot for a glamorous stay in the city. In my opinion, it's the sexiest hotel in Los Angeles. If you're interested in Old Hollywood, you'll be excited to know it's been home to many stars, including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra.


Hotel Bel Air

The Beverly Hills Hotel

You’ve seen the iconic sign, and pink and green signature colours, on your social media feed and in magazines. With a red carpet that often welcomes guests and Hollywood royalty, the ‘Pink Palace’ has luxurious bungalows, tropical gardens and a pool you won't want to leave. 


Chateau Marmont

Chateau Marmont is renowned for its exclusivity. Its garden restaurant has one of the most charming patios in the area, but keep your phone tucked away because photos aren’t allowed. It's a popular spot for Hollywood's elite to retreat and take meetings. For the full experience, you'll want to stay in one of the cottages or bungalows. Despite its privacy, the property is conveniently located on the Sunset Strip, so you'll still be close to plenty of the action.


Proper Hotel

With its prime Santa Monica location, stylish design and laid-back atmosphere, the Proper Hotel is one of my top recommendations. With impeccable design by Kelly Wrestler, it is luxurious, visually stunning and an Instagram-worthy destination.


The Beverly Hills Hotel


Nobu Malibu

Nobu Malibu is a high-end Japanese restaurant with breath-taking ocean views. It’s one of the few restaurants right on the water, where you can watch the sun set over the ocean. The sushi is incredible, and it's one of the more upscale restaurants on the beach. Nobu Malibu is definitely a scene, especially at the weekends in the summer. It’s worth the hype for a martini and some sashimi.


Great White Café

This all-day cafe is known for its Instagram-worthy aesthetic and coastal California vibe. It offers a trendy and laid-back dining experience where you can sit outside and enjoy the beautiful LA weather. Their breakfast burrito is the best in town! The café has three locations spread across the city, making it a convenient choice no matter where you're staying.

Visit GreatWhite.Cafe


Erewhon might be one of the trendiest spots in town, but it's actually a high-end grocery store. The hot food bar is a staple in my life because they are committed to organic, healthy non-GMO ingredients. Plus, the buffalo cauliflower and ‘Hailey Bieber’ smoothie might change your life, they’re that good.


Gjelina & Gjusta

Gjelina is a popular restaurant in Venice Beach known for its rustic décor and cosy ambience. This hotspot serves locally sourced farm-to-table cuisine and is famous for its wood-fired pizzas. Gjusta is a bakery and deli by the same team that is more laid-back. It’s a great spot for brunch or lunch, and I highly recommend their sandwiches and homemade bread. They also have out-of-this-world gluten-free bread that is made fresh every day. Both of these spots are buzzy celebrity favourites.


Gjelina & Gjusta
Great White Café


Craig's is a high-end restaurant in West Hollywood with big round booths and a lively bar. This dark and moody spot is perfect before a night out on the town. I recommend the honey truffle chicken, but make your reservation now because it’s always booked up. Oh, and be prepared to get snapped by the paparazzi on your way in and out.

Visit Craigs.LA

Felix Trattoria

Felix Trattoria is a high-end Italian restaurant in Venice Beach. It’s known for its modern rustic décor and incredible handmade pasta. Oh, and the focaccia bread is truly a dream! Perfect for a date night or a night out with a small group of friends. My tip? Go early and sit at the bar for dinner – there are no reservations required.


Jon & Vinny’s

Jon & Vinny’s is a popular Italian-American spot with a modern twist. Imagine eating incredible pizzas and plates of pasta while listening to 90s rap music. Jon & Vinny's is known for its cosy yet stylish ambience and is a hotspot for foodies. My favourites include the little gem salad, meatballs, and the ‘LA Woman’ pizza. They also do a great breakfast.



Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel

Within the glamorous Sunset Tower Hotel, built in 1929, this dark and sexy bar is the perfect place to enjoy a late-night espresso martini and an ice cream sundae while basking in the Old Hollywood atmosphere. With stunning views of the city and live piano music, the bar has an intimate and romantic feel to it that makes it a great spot for dates and special occasions. 


Harriet’s Rooftop at 1 Hotel

There are only so many bars with views of the city, and this is one of the best. Harriet’s Rooftop at the 1 Hotel is on the iconic Sunset Boulevard. The chic décor, craft cocktails and panoramic views make it an easy place to hang for a sunset toast. 


Hotel Bel Air
Sunset Tower Hotel

Bar & Lounge at The Bel Air Hotel

In the upscale neighbourhood of Bel Air, this cosy bar is a chic spot for a cocktail or a glass of wine. There’s usually some type of live music being played and a lit fire during the evenings. Please order my favourite cocktail when you go: the ‘Pepino’s Revenge’ – but make it spicy. I even named my dog after this drink! 


Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel

The Polo Lounge is inside the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel and has been a favourite spot among Hollywood's elite for more than 100 years. Drinking in the art deco garden of the Polo Lounge is one of my favourite summertime pastimes. It's a ‘who's who’ of the entertainment industry, so people-watching is a must. However, even though this city is typically casual, there's a no-jeans rule here, so make sure you dress up. 



Wally's is the perfect spot for wine enthusiasts. With a global wine selection, including vintage options, this bar and shop impresses with its lively atmosphere. You can sample top wines and take-home big bottles for your collection, making it a popular choice for casual gatherings and special occasions.



Maxfield LA

Maxfield LA is a luxury fashion boutique on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. The store itself is designed to feel like a gallery, with a minimalist aesthetic and rotating art installations. Maxfield has also collaborated with celebrities and designers on exclusive capsule collections, and has a reputation for being a go-to spot for fashion insiders.


Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive is one of the most iconic retail destinations in the world. This luxurious shopping district is home to high-end fashion boutiques and designer shops. Plus, it’s in the heart of Beverly Hills with its beautiful palm-lined streets and nearby parks.


Pickwick Vintage Fair

The Pickwick Vintage Show is a popular event for vintage clothing collectors and antique enthusiasts. Held once a month, the fair is an opportunity to shop unique vintage pieces, from designer clothing and accessories to furniture and décor.


Melrose Place

Melrose Place and Melrose High Street are home to trendy boutiques, high-end designer stores and popular eateries. This walkable area is known for its upscale vibe and is a popular spot for celebrity sightings. The charming outdoor atmosphere and beautiful storefronts make it a great place for a leisurely afternoon of shopping and dining.

Malibu Country Mart

The Malibu Country Mart is a popular outdoor shopping destination in the heart of Malibu. This charming shopping centre features high-end retailers, trendy boutiques and excellent dining options all in one location. With a relaxed atmosphere, it's the perfect place to shop, dine and enjoy the LA sunshine.




Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery is not just a resting place for legends. It’s also a unique venue for outdoor movie nights and concerts. Imagine watching classic movies or enjoying live music while picnicking under the stars in this iconic cemetery. It's a one-of-a-kind experience that blends entertainment and history in a truly unforgettable way.


Hiking Trails

If you want to take in the breath-taking views of the city from the hills, consider exploring one of the many hiking trails LA has to offer. Some of my favourites include Griffith Park, Runyon Canyon, Temescal Canyon and Los Liones Canyon.

Hollywood Bowl Concert

The Hollywood Bowl is an iconic outdoor concert venue known for its exceptional acoustics and legendary history of hosting top-tier artists. Just imagine watching Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga perform under the stars on a warm summer night.

The Comedy Store

Come see some of the funniest people in the States at the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. This historic venue has hosted the likes of Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams and Dave Chappelle, but it also showcases up-and-coming talents. If you're lucky, you may even get a surprise appearance by one of your favourite comedians.


Huntington Botanical Gardens

The Huntington Botanical Gardens span more than 120 acres. They feature diverse plant collections and themed gardens such as the Rose Garden, Palm Garden, Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden and Desert Garden.

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