You only really get a sense of just how vast Los Angeles is when you get here, and your Google Maps tells you that it'll take an hour to get from your hotel in Venice to a bar in Silver Lake. It's just that big. (And full of traffic.) That's the bad news. The good news is, that you could spend a whole year here and you'll still discover hidden gems when you least expect it. L.A. is unknowable in that way—no matter how much time you've spent cruising its freeways, frolicking in its oceans, or drinking and eating in its endless bars and restaurants, it will always feel like a seductive stranger. To help you guys get better acquainted, here's just a sliver of where you should go, and what you should do, if you happen to find yourself either Downtown, in Hollywood, or the city's electric West Side.
Where to Stay: Mama Shelter
Everything amazing you've heard about this eccentric Hollywood outlier is true. Yes, the rooftop bar is one of the best in all of L.A, with eye-popping views of the Hollywood Hills and buzzy nighttime party vibes. Yes, the rooms are a mash-up of retro and high-tech, with 27-inch iMacs occupying the same space as kitschy movie memorabilia. Yes, the lobby bar and restaurant offer the kind of elevated fare that rivals the area's best restaurants. And yes, the next time you find yourself in the heart of Hollywood, you should totally stay with Mama. Pro tip: For a fun night out, the entertainment mecca Hollywood & Highland is just up the street.