Where other boutique hotels have failed, the Standard, Downtown L.A. succeeds with its sharply curated, vibrant public spaces (a German beer garden and a rooftop pool), around-the-clock diner, and spacious, minimal rooms. As the tagline for the largest suite proclaims: “If you’re hurting for space, you might be doing it wrong.”
When it opened in 2002, the effortlessly cool Standard Downtown proved divisive on many fronts: some felt it skewed too young, others couldn’t get past the peekaboo showers in the rooms and the fact that paying guests had to wait just as long as regular folks to access the rooftop bar. No matter how you slice it, this 207-room hotel, which occupies a stunning marble-clad former office tower, certainly gave people something to talk about. Speaking of that rooftop bar: it’s one of the largest in East LA, and manages to fit not just a pool and cabanas, but also several waterbeds, a fireplace, and a separate German-style biergarten (similar to the brand’s location in NYC) for fresh-baked pretzels. Needless to say, the upbeat vibe attracts all sorts of characters, from desert hippies to jetsetting directors and literary types. When you need a break from all the visual and auditory stimuli—and you will—the larger-than-average rooms offer a serene contrast, with their 70s-inspired design set against a stark, gray and white palette. All the parts—platform bed, desk, cube-like tiled bathrooms—fit together like blocks in a lego set. There’s a pleasing uniformity to all the tricks and novelties of this peppy hotel, which even 15 years later, still feels fresh. That’s aided in part by a superb, efficient staff and staunch amenities like bluetooth speakers and a 24-hour gym.
Location: The Standard, Downtown L.A. sits on South Flower Street in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. The 7th Street/Metro Center station is two blocks away, providing easy connections to Union Station and Hollywood, and there are innumerable bars, restaurants and shopping centers to choose from.
Grand Central Market: Come hungry to this buzzing food hall, which is a 13-minute walk from the hotel. The crowds are worth braving, when you consider the rewards: a glorious breakfast sandwich from the iconic Eggslut, say, or a plate of Hainan chicken from Sticky Rice.
The Broad: Half a mile up the street from the hotel, L.A.’s newest contemporary art museum is the public home for Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of 2,000 post-war works. What really makes the museum a must-see is the caliber of its exhibits, which has featured the likes of Jasper Johns, Keith Haring, and Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room.”
Whole Foods: America’s favorite organic grocery chain has an outpost 4 blocks from the hotel, with a full buffet of hot and cold food, a restaurant, a poke bar, and kombucha on tap. In a pinch, it certainly does the trick.
Staples Center: Less than a mile from the hotel, this Downtown sports shrine is best known as home turf for the Lakers basketball team (as well as the Clippers basketball team, and the Kings hockey team), but it doubles as a 20,000-capacity arena for musical acts like Kanye West and U2.
Good for: Art scenesters, design lovers, and party animals will take to this hotel for its exhaustive supply of recreational spaces—in all, there are two rooftop bars, a 24-hour diner, a ping pong club, and a busy calendar of events including concerts, film screenings and art exhibits.
Amenities: pool, room service, free Wi-Fi, minibar, restaurant, bar, gym, concierge
Time Out tip: When it comes to late check-out, most hotels tend to grudgingly grant it on a case-by-case basis. But in a fit of unforeseen generosity, Standard Hotels recently rolled out a new program whereby any guest can check out (or in) whenever they like. ‘Standard Time,’ as it’s called, means guests can arrive early, sleep late, and pretty much adhere to their own schedule without repercussions. It comes with a fee, of course—but when it comes to precious extra hours of undisturbed sleep, how do you put a price on that?