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Everything from low-key beachfront bungalows to luxurious hot spots – Los Angeles has a lot to offer for those who enjoy bar interior design projects!
This wood-paneled gaming parlor–cum–cocktail lounge inside The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel brings some of that “I drink your milkshake” gravitas back to the rather plain bowling alley aesthetic via custom-designed wooden board games, plush velvet armchairs and booths, nail-trimmed tables, and a killer view of Hollywood Boulevard alongside the twin lanes. It’s even got bowling shoes you’d want to wear outside the joint.
Though he recently dropped $14 million to revamp L.A.’s famed Clifton’s Cafeteria, Andrew Meieran earned his nightlife impresario rep with the Edison. As the name might suggest, his industrial-chic club was carved out of the century-old machinery of downtown’s first private power plant. There, revelers can sip artisanal cocktails (like the bourbon, pear cognac, lemon, and honey house drink) while watching stilt walkers and aerialists from the comfort of their leather, velvet, and carved-wood digs.
Break Room 86 is the latest venture from the Houston Brothers, the fraternal-twin hospitality gurus behind No Vacancy and Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. After entering through a loading dock and a service hallway on the west side of Koreatown’s buzzy Line Hotel, you’ll find an ’80s-era treasure trove filled with vintage arcade games, bar menus stored inside old VHS cassette cases, microphone light fixtures, and old roadie cases re-purposed as tables. It’s a blast from the past, with New Wave–inspired cocktails, PushPops, and Less Than Zero–themed karaoke parties featuring live bands.
Los Angeles–based designer Sayre V. Ziskin channeled the Catch Me If You Can heyday of air travel at Now Boarding via Brutalist gold chandeliers by Moda Lighting, geometric wallpaper, custom midcentury furniture (think a wing-shaped metal bar top), and aviation-inspired art. The pièce de résistance is a feature wall conceived by L.A. artist Paul Rice, who copper-leafed each individual route from a 1950s British Airways map.
Seated atop the old United Artists building in downtown’s theater district, Upstairs at the Ace Hotel is an Art Deco aerie inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House and Hollywood’s Les Deux Café. Costume designer Michael Schmidt’s theater-lighting installation casts a spell over the space in the form of vintage steel chains and barn hardware, while Donald Judd’s pool in Marfa is channeled in the rooftop plunge. See patterned canopies by local artist Alia Penner, furniture by Joshua Tree sculptor Alma Allen, and creeping vines enveloping nearly every surface.
Nightlife maven Brent Bolthouse and Studio Collective filled a Baja-style 1947 beach bungalow adjacent to the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica with Moroccan tile, a wood-burning stove, leather Chesterfield sofas, gaming tables, and plenty of vintage skate- and surfboards to create one of the most laidback nightclubs in existence. Come spring, Huntington Beach will get its very own version of the Bungalow, paying homage to that community’s storied surf history.
A quarter-century ago owner and lead designer Marc Smith (of the Golden Gopher, Hotel Shangri-La) gave the now-esteemed Angeleno bar designer Ricki Kline his first assignment, a signless Hollywood speakeasy with burgundy bolstered doors called Thethe Three Clubs. Kline and Smith filled the space, which was famously featured in Swingers, with mahogany wood paneling, black glitter popcorn ceilings, tufted banquettes, and “casino carpet” that’s been attracting hipsters ever since. Order a Dewar’s on the rocks and a Budweiser and you’ll be transported to a time when Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau were still young and hungry.
Located directly behind the Normandie Club, inside the recently renovated Hotel Normandie, the Walker Inn is a cozy, midcentury interior design den (designed by Ricki Kline and Kellie Patry) that accommodates 27 patrons in an exclusive, reservation-only seating room appointed in simple statements of brass, wood, leather, and mirror. If you’re one of the lucky 27, you can order cutting-edge, techno-artisanal cocktails from the classics or seasonal/thematic menus. And should you imbibe too heavily, the owners are opening ten new guest rooms in the coming months.
The sign on the front door says “No Photos Please,” but that hasn’t stopped a fair share of Instagrammers posting pics of The h.wood Group’s Goodfellas-inspired design, constructed by co-founder John Terzian & Built, Inc., at the Nice Guy. From the yellow floral-patterned booths and the chevron mirrors to the brass-trimmed white marble bar top to the “surveillance room” chef’s table, the space is a study in old-school hip. Burgers with candied bacon and tequila drinks with fresh blackberries, lemon juice, Campari, and Fresno chilies only sweeten the pot.
At acclaimed Austro-Fijian chef Louis Tikaram’s multistory E.P. Asian Eating House in West Hollywood, guests can mingle at the copper-clad bar and green onyx dining counter—designed by Aussie firm Projects of Imagination—or go upstairs to L.P. Rooftop, the topiary-filled and fire-pit-equipped bar overlooking the Hollywood Hills. With a mix of wok stir fry and boba cocktail creations, the place offers the best of Southeast Asia and Southern California under (and atop) one roof.
The opposite of the clean and modern nightclub that pumps out EDM, the Warwick channels the design sensibility of a stately 1940s mansion (with Chesterfield sofas and towering marble fireplaces with traditional millwork) with a selection of local DJs spinning everything from classic rock to soul to Hall & Oates. Design themes change regularly (say, Film Noir with ’40s foreign language film posters or Capri with bright blue-and-white striped fabrics), as do the menus. Visitors to the bar, now in its third iteration, will find ferns hanging from the open truss ceiling while the fireplaces have been surrounded by black marble and soul-warming winter drinks.
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