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The Five Best Hotel Bars in Los Angeles

November 11, 2009 at 4:51 PM | by | ()

Butterflies on the ceiling of Bar Marmont

Cocktail culture is a different breed in Los Angeles. This is a town known for "doing lunch," after all. Aspiring screenwriters and actors usually work during the day and hit clubs late at night, and slick producers hustle deals both during afternoon meetings and after hours. Happy Hour just isn't as popular here as it is in other cities you might visit.

And what makes choosing a bar even more difficult in LA is the rate of trend turnaround; one week some place is the place to be, the next you wouldn't find a Twilight cast member caught dead there.

Recently, the erstwhile travel reporter Jen Leo tweeted @HotelChatter asking us what hotels in Los Angeles would be great for a happy hour. This inspired us to revisit some of the city's most well-known hotel bars to do libation reconnaissance. Below you'll find the results of our liquored social experiment. More after the jump...

1. Hotel Palomar Westwood: The location is nothing sexy as it's in the Wilshire Corridor near UCLA and the 405 where traffic can get backed up at rush hour. But the hotel's BLVD 16 bar might be the perfect place to wait out the traffic.

While hotel guests can drink for free during the 5pm wine-tasting hour, commuters and hard workers can pop into BLVD 16 for the "Rush Hour" menu from 4 to 7pm. On it are $6 cocktails and wines by the glass as well as a appetizers for $3, $4 and $5. On Mondays, a special Monday Night Football tailgating menu goes into effect at 7pm. This menu is a six pack special where you can get any six drinks and appetizers for from $25 to $30.

But of course, we don't recommend drinking and driving so if you've had a little too much, book a hotel room upstairs. The room rate will be far, far, cheaper than any DUI bust. And a lot safer too.

2. Viceroy Santa Monica: The Viceroy is a known party hotel and while that may have taken its toll on the rooms (they're due for a renovation soon), there's always something going on here courtesy of the hotel's Whist restaurant and Cameo bar. Just recently, the Cameo Bar announced their take on the old happy hour called, Five to Nine which offers drinks and apps from $5 to $9 from 5 to 9pm. So you can forget about all that happened from 9 to 5.

If you want to make a night out of it, visit on Thursday when the Cameo Bar keeps the happy hour pricing in effect until closing. Just watch out for the tiny pools that divide the cabanas from the rest of the outdoor area. We have not yet seen someone fall in but it could so easily happen.

3. Bar Marmont at Chateau Marmont: The Chateau Marmont is the stuff of Hollywood legends. You've no doubt heard numerous stories about starlets of Lindsay Lohan's ilk shacking up here, and Bar Marmont remains a virtually no-fail spot for a celebrity sighting. So, we don't blame you for wanting to hit up the sexy Sunset Strip bar with the hope that you'll emerge with your own story to tell.

We can't boast of TMZ-worthy run-ins on our recent trips to Marmont, but we can attest that their drinks live up to standards of their glitterati clientele, specifically our stand-up Manhattan and our partner's potent concoction that incorporated crushed grapes, a Caipiruva. Single ladies take note: it may not be the best place to fly solo in search of libations. One of our contributors had a drink there but departed quickly after a few skeezy men started talking to her. Weeknights are a different story, however; stop by early—around 7:00 or so—and you won't have to contend with crowds, plus you'll get even more attention from their thoughtful wait staff.

Yet we can't deny that the scene is often quintessentially West Hollywood, as our friend who once loaned Kirsten Dunst some cash for valet well knows. Speaking of parking, the Sunset Strip is a notorious pain-in-the-ass in this regard, but if you drive just past the Chateau, there are $7 and $10 lots to be found, and even a $5 lot just off of Harper; just keep your eyes peeled for them and not KiKi.

4. The London West Hollywood: First thing's first: The London is breathtakingly beautiful, with white-on-white fabrics, mirrored accents, crystal light fixtures, and other touchstones of stellar design adorning the hotel. Plus there are killer views of Los Angeles to admire as well. Yet the opulent surroundings are a tell-tale sign that drinks will set you back a pretty penny—hell, you might as well pay in British pounds.

When we hit up The London on a recent Saturday night, the restaurant (which bears Gordon Ramsay's name) was bustling, yet the tiny middle bar area only saw a small crowd milling around. We opted for wine, and our friend a Lychee Passion cocktail which set her back a whopping $16 dollars. So make sure you bring your best richest friend to drink with you here. If he or she's really in the mood to splurge, get a cabana at the rooftop pool.

4. Thompson Beverly Hills: While the point of happy hour is to get drunk and gripe about work kick back with your coworkers and celebrate the end of the work day, people also like to drink and eat for less. Over at Thompson Beverly Hills, you can get yummy appetizers from the BondST sushi bar for $7 as well as specialty drinks for the same price. But whenever you go, weekday or weekend, you will always be able to rub shoulders with the beautiful people (and their agents/managers, too.)

5. Shangri-La Hotel Santa Monica: The Shangri-La has been closed for what seems like ever but finally, after a two-year renovation the Art Deco-style hotel has flung open its doors to welcome folks back in. Even better, there are three bar options at the hotel. One is the main bar and restaurant just off the lobby, a second option is the courtyard out back and where guests can also drink by the pool and the third is the rooftop bar which has both indoor and outdoor seating. (Should you brave the outdoor seating, the hotel will give you blankets to keep you warm.)

Yet, if you want the most picturesque place to drown away your workday sorrows, we say grab a table in front of the windows at the main bar where you can watch the sun set. Indeed the hotel's $5 Sunset Menu offers well cocktails, bottled beers and wines by the glass for just $5. Same goes for the small bites like flatbreads, grilled artichokes, croquettes, goat cheese stuffed dates and mixed olives.

What are your favorite hotel bars in LaLa Land? Do you have a gripe about an overpriced cocktail? Comment below or find us on Twitter (@HotelChatter) and let us know!

Juliana Shallcross also contributed to this report.

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