Hollywood events are on reset as the new normal plays out. Although it’s another year without an in-person American Film Market, the setback is not holding back Los Angeles restaurants and hotels from showcasing their ample options for holidays and the upcoming event season, which features a first-time Super Bowl on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium. Event planners, catering pros and hotel entertainment sales execs are prepping for another odd end-of-year, one with evolving public health protocols (required vaccination status checks at the door) to accommodating up-to-the-moment bookings.
Whether inside, al fresco or a hybrid, there’s still a hesitancy to book larger gatherings; most in-demand are spaces that can hold 20 to 30 for seated dinners.
“So far, the phone is not ringing with holiday party calls the way it would have pre-COVID,” says Matt Duggan, outgoing general manager at AOC. Brentwood. “And many of the calls that do come through seem less committed, more speculative. They’re playing with the idea only,” he adds of large-scale corporate socializing.
When it does become time to commit, here are some new or newly polished Los Angeles venues that cater to entertainment biz clientele.
Updated Classic: Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
The 100-year-old Fairmont Miramar energized its breezy entrance lobby with a chic lounge; there’s more than enough room for socializing on the cushy green banquettes. No longer an afterthought, the lounge is a clubby spot. Also newly added and another remake of an underutilized space, the indoor/outdoor glass-walled Library and Ocean Terrace has floor-to-ceiling dra-pes ensuring total privacy and opens to its own secluded terrace with ocean views. The latest addition to the bustling lobby is Soko, an eight-seat sushi bar where master chef Masa Shimakawa is behind the blond-wood counter doling out fresh-from-the-sea delicacies. Due to demand, Soko’s hand-crafted sushi, sashimi and rolls are also available in the lobby lounge.
Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
Santa Monica’s Newest Hotel: Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites (pictured)
After a two-year makeover and tech upgrade, the former Double-Tree Suites (just north of the Lowes’ AFM headquarters at 4th Street) was converted into the 286-room contemporary-styled Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites. (The room count breaks down as 211 suites and 76 rooms). There’s ample area for casual business meet-ups in the living room-like lobby under the soaring eight-story atrium complete with greenery, floating sculptures and an Instagram-ready set piece. The restaurant patio doubles as a gathering space and can accommodate 80 seated or 130 standing during events. Altogether, the Hilton has 7,773- sq.-ft. of meeting space at this freeway- and Metro station-close property.
Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites
1707 4th St., Santa Monica
Meet & Eat: Viceroy Santa Monica
Business meetings kept the Viceroy Santa Monica humming all summer as SoCal-based companies opted for off-site get-togethers as a break from work-from-home endeavors. Key to the Viceroy’s appeal is the first-floor meeting rooms with plentiful natural light and easy access to the outdoors. The vintage Merryvale boardroom, which holds up to 10 people, directly off the lobby features a roll-up garage door that opens fully to the fresh seaside air. Sugar Palm Ocean Avenue is the hotel’s recently re-launched restaurant with executive chef Jason Francisco (formerly of Pasadena’s The Raymond 1886) at the helm.
Viceroy Santa Monica
1819 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica
WESTSIDE LOS ANGELES
Small Plates Specialist: AOC in Brentwood
In June, chef-author Suzanne Goin and restaurateur Caroline Styne transformed their former Tavern L.A. into AOC in Brentwood with their signature Mediterranean-influenced small plates, shareable menu complemented by a sophisticated wine and cocktail program. Design firm Nickey Kehoe reworked the airy setting: now the restaurant’s three richly hued spaces are set off by vibrant patterned wallpaper, bespoke lighting and cushy upholstered banquettes. The private dining room can seat up to 40 and the pair continues to offer off-site catering.
AOC in Brentwood
11648 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles
The Latest in Cuisine: Katsuya Brentwood
The trend-setting Japanese eatery Katsuya Brentwood remains as popular as ever: there are lushly planted patios and the mirror-filled Dragon Room is now home to a high-end, eight-seat Omakase bar. The customized 10-course menu and showy presentation is reward in itself and a real treat for valued team members or celebratory nights out. Hollywood mainstay Katsuya Hollywood re-opened in September for those missing Katsuya’s patented blend of Japanese and Californian cuisine and see-and-be-seen vibe.
11777 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles
Landmark Setting: Lumiere at the Fairmont Century Plaza
Parisian antiques and accouterments fill Lumiere Brasserie at the re-opened mid-century modern Fairmont Century Plaza. Even the restaurant’s vintage oak doors and floor tiles were imported. While the space has held numerous concepts over the years, the present iteration is designed to feel like a day — or night — in Paris. The menu highlights French cuisine (steak frites!) and there’s a wide selection of Gallic aperitifs and Champagne. Lumiere operates independently under seasoned restaurateur Paul Quinn (lately of Quince in San Francisco); it occupies its own corner of the 400-room landmark hotel. The remodel features a garden area with bistro seating and a private dining room called the Writer’s Den (14 seated) set apart with its own climate control, flat-screen TV and sound system.
Lumiere at the Fairmont Century Plaza
2025 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Cinematic Backdrop: NeueHouse Bradbury
Downtown Los Angeles’ Bradbury Building is the location for the iconic “Blade Runner” fight scene in which man (Harrison Ford) battles replicant (Rutger Hauer). NeueHouse recently expanded its private collaborative workspace concept to the 1893-built building recognized for its intricate one-of-a-kind ironwork and historic interior. Now available for private events, the picturesque atrium can host up to 300; the Wyman Bar — complete with a state-of-the-art sound system — allows up to 80 standing. Four conference rooms, a wired boardroom and gallery are also on tap for lectures, off-sites and social gatherings.
301 S. Broadway, Los Angeles
Foodie Favorite: Girl & the Goat
Downtown L.A.’s Arts District continues to attract the creative class and on-location filming. Set in the heart of the action since July, “Top Chef” winner Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat offers flavorful, of-the-season dishes that hit all the marks. On one end of the sophisticated urban eatery is Izard’s signature open kitchen (an homage to her three successful Chicago eateries), and on the other, the Terrace, an open-air covered patio that seats 25. There are natural materials and draping greenery throughout to soften the high-ceilinged warehouse-like space, which is spacious enough to section off easily for events. A patio under string lights (35 seated) seems a world away from its downtown setting.
Girl & the Goat
555 Mateo St., Los Angeles
Designer Gatherings: Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel
Cecil B. DeMille was once a member of the 148-room Proper Hotel’s original 1920s incarnation as a private club. Much has changed in downtown L.A. since then, but the building survived and opened in mid-October after an exacting historic restoration along with modernization. The rooftop views (where there’s a private patio for 30) take in all of downtown and up Broadway. Two camera-ready signature suites recall the building’s glory days as a private sporting club. The historic ballroom (80 seated/120 reception) with its dramatic arched windows and original hardwood floors overlooking the famed Herald Examiner building is a rediscovered downtown gem.
Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel
1100 S. Broadway, Los Angeles