Los Angeles, Hawaii & San Francisco Multi Centre
I’m a bit greedy when it comes to travelling. I’m always trying to see as much as humanly possible on every single trip. If I can go on holiday and cram in an out-of-town excursion here or a day trip there, then I will do. That’s why when the chance to visit three US hotspots in one 2-week trip came up, I couldn’t resist. So here’s my low-down and why you should try it, too.
It began with a London to Los Angeles flight on United Airlines. A route that should be -- more than any other -- stuffed with cashmere-clad cougars, off-duty models and shaggy-haired rockers. Well erm, no. Not in Economy at least. I didn’t get to turn left into the velvet-curtained sumptuousness of first class. I was sat next to a nuclear unit with 2.4 children and matching Disney hand luggage.
On arrival at LAX, I was met by a melting pot of tourists: Travellers heading inland for Palm Springs; northeast for the retro quirks of Santa Monica pier; or straight to the car hire depot to begin a Mustang-led Route 66 roadtrip. I was heading to North Hollywood, which is actually a different place to Hollywood altogether.
I checked into The Beverly Garland hotel, close to Universal Studios. The hotel -- with a palette of terracotta, red, cream and oak -- was classy, clean and modish. There’s a lounger-fringed pool, tennis courts, a Mediterranean-Californian fusion restaurant and a bar serving cocktails (in true LA fashion, there’s even a section highlighting which ones are under 100 calories). It’s a 10-minute walk from the Universal City Metro stop -- from here you can get to Hollywood Boulevard and Downtown LA. It’s always preferable to have a car in LA, but for those who can’t/won’t drive, I’d recommend this hotel for ease of getting around.
Having visited Los Angeles before, I’d already done the celeb-home tour and the ride up Mulholland, chasing the white, 9-letter sign. This time I wanted to see a bit more, but firstly, I wanted to eat. I wanted to eat somewhere glitzy, glam and grandiose. Where better than Chateau Marmont? With its suitably plush décor and notorious reputation, you can’t get much more Hollywood. The food was tasty, with a European influence (croque madame, aged manchego, Serrano ham), and I washed it down nicely with a G&T.
After another two days of ticking off bars and restaurants (The Ivy, Nobu, Mel’s Drive In) it was time to leave La La land and head west, across the Pacific, to Hawaii. Being a huge “Hawaii Five-0” fan and happy to wear a flower in my hair at any time, I was pretty giddy about touchdown in Honolulu. After a short transfer to Waikiki, we arrived at the Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki. This brightly coloured surf-and-palm-themed tower was walking distance from the beach, offered a quiet pool and served show-cooked pancakes every morning for breakfast -- what more could you need?
Although we used Waikiki as a base we explored some more of Oahu. History hounds can spend hours at Pearl Harbour, pawing over war artifacts and taking the shuttle boat to the memorial. We hopped on a bus up to the North Shore, which for anyone who surfs (I don’t, sadly) is a very important sun-baked, wave-bashed hotspot. Even without the surfboards, it ain’t half bad: powder-fine sand, blue sea and shrimp shacks aplenty.