Designing restaurants and playpens for industryites poses a unique problem: Everyone in Hollywood insists on the best seat in the house.“No one wants to settle for a second-class seat,” says architect-interior designer David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, who designed the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas hotel. His latest creation — the 181-room Nobu Hotel in the gambling mecca that opens Dec. 21 inside the Caesars Palace Centurion tower along with with the largest Nobu restaurant to-date — was conceived with industryites in mind. For example, the restaurant boasts semi-private dining pods — “rooms within rooms,” as Rockwell describes them — because the Hollywood crowd “loves booths.” And to attract bizzers, the rooms in the hotel balance practicality with a personal touch: chef and restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa picked out the room art and the minibar items. Some room furniture, such as the rough-edged wood coffee tables, look hand-made; nothing looks mass-produced. While designing bars, clubs, eateries and hotels for showbizzers is a refined architectural practice, a prime location, as with all real estate, is essential too. Execs at Innovative Dining Group (IDG), known for Katana, Boa and Sushi Roku, spent years searching for a viable downtown L.A. restaurant location. This year, they leased the former Zucca restaurant space just blocks from the Staples Center and Nokia Theater, transforming it into Soleto, an event-friendly space with a large outdoor portion and adjacent courtyard. The cocktail area boasts a see-and-be-seen oval-shaped bar. “Each (space) has a different vibe,” says IDG’s Lee Maen, a former commercial real estate broker. Nightlife impresario Brent Bolthouse collaborated with design firm Studio Collective (also Soleto’s designers) to create a cozy cocktail lounge on the grounds of Santa Monica’s Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. The indoor/outdoor bar is a complete remodel of the hotel’s front entrance-adjacent meeting spaces. Its decor has a timeless aspect per Bolthouse. Classic materials like French tile flooring and upmarket flea market finds combine inside the lounge, which has ocean and sunset views. With two decks, cobblestone pathways and a grassy yard, “it feel like you’re at a house party,” Bolthouse says.
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