As a former resident of West Los Angeles, I'm always getting messages from readers asking me the best places to stay, visit and eat when they're planning at trip to California. On the latter two, I can list so many amazing places to eat or visit that you simply should not miss out on, but as I used to live here and had an apartment on the Westside, up until now I knew next to nothing about hotels in L.A.. I've now moved into an apartment in Venice (my favourite part of town), but when I first arrived I decided I really ought to check out somewhere to stay for you all. So, enter stage right the Farmers Daughter Hotel in West Hollywood.
The first thing that drew me to the hotel was its location. People who are not me don't really walk in L.A., so finding a hotel outside of Venice and Santa Monica where you can walk to everything you could need in the neighbourhood can sometimes be a challenge. Farmers Daughter is opposite The Grove, one of my favourite outdoor malls in the city with plenty of restaurants and The Original Farmers Market which is great for grabbing a bite. There is a big 24 hour CVS pharmacy across the street at the end of the block in case you've forgotten something, next to a rather large Whole Foods, both great for grabbing something light to take back to your room for a bite, and for you Londoners out there to see what a 'real' Whole Foods is like; yes the one on Kensington High Street is pretty great, but it simply pales in comparison to the real thing. And if that is not enough, the hotel is also right by and within walking distance of the length of West Hollywood's West 3rd Street shopping district, which also happens to be the home of some of my favourite restaurants such as Toast and Joan's on Third. Within the hotel is also a pretty fantastic restaurant, TART, but more on that next week.
Farmers Daughter is a modern twist on what used to be an old motel style joint, having its heyday in the 70's hosting starts filming across the street at CBS studios, and gradually descending into a stop off with a seedy reputation in the 90's. The hotel is not just somewhere to rest your head while you're exploring the city; the farmers daughter arrived in L.A. off the farm to make it big, and became a star. But, Hollywood being Hollywood she had her twilight years, and has been reborn in a second renaissance. She's a bit like how 70's fashions like denim flares and retro prints came back into style, but she's so much cooler than just a trend.
It's a great hotel for work and play. There is fantastic free Wifi with all rooms, so when I was jet lagged at 3am I was able to sit at the table in my room (with the lights on a dimmer) to write, while I was waiting for Joan's on Third to open so I could walk to have breakfast I found I was super productive editing photos and answering emails, and out on the beautiful patio during the afternoon (while drinking copious amounts of the delicious sweet tea on tap in the hotel lobby I became slightly addicted to) I got a lot of work done preparing this weeks Weekly Love blog post. But also, I actually managed to relax at the hotel. I find it very hard to relax and not be on my computer working all the time, so it was fantastic that I was able to read The Times I'd brought with me from England the day before cover to cover, and do the Sudoku out on a sun lounger. I also had a very relaxing evening swim along with the pools resident rubber ducks.
As well as the cool decor, great location and the open air nature of the hotel which really showcases the best of L.A. weather, I think what makes Farmers Daughter a really fun and memorable place to stay are the fun little details you discover every time you step into a new part of the hotel. The bikes you can hire from the hotel have little 'Farmers Daughter' number plates, the upstairs seating area has a little pig hiding away behind the chairs, and the card in my room naming my chambermaid was in a little gold animal model card holder. The team at the front desk are also super helpful, and great to chat to (especially good for me when I was nibbling on the barbecue chips on offer, and enjoying all that sweet tea and some of the sage infused water. I don't know what it is, but whenever I'm in California I seem to be always thirsty!) In the evenings, the lobby staff also run a complimentary whiskey hour. Yes, you did just read that right.
I was staying in one of the hotel's mid-priced Robin Rooms, which start from $269 (approximately £170) a night. Again like the rest of the hotel, it was full of both the things you'd expect from a hotel (mini bar, super fluffy white pillows, great quality complimentary toiletries, this time from C.O. Bigelow in New York) but also fun little details that made the room unique. The fact the mini bar was mounted up on shelves like an art installation with the nuts out in little jars, the painting of a cow and the 'Be Nice Or Leave' cushion on the corner seating area really made me smile. I'm now also obsessed with polished concrete floors.
The bathroom made me really excited. Yes the shower was good and the temperature easy to control, and there were enough towels. But what I loved is that one of the bathroom walls was made of glass (there was a curtain you could use and a sliding bathroom door if you're sharing the room), and with the sink by the room door in the main part of the room, it gave the bathroom a really great open plan feel. I'd never actually thought that an open plan bathroom could be a good thing before now, but for Farmers Daughter it really worked.
So what about the things you usually want to know about a hotel? I've mentioned the pillows (just part of the super comfy bed), towels and shower already. For the area, it was also super quiet at night and early in the mornings, too. In my old apartment not too far from West Hollywood I discovered the importance of good air conditioning - the unit in the hotel room was really easy to adjust and control in moments, and also offers warm air if you're visiting in Winter - also important in the evenings, as insulation from outside elements is also not really a thing in L.A. buildings. The check in and check out process was really smooth, and they let me stash my luggage with them for a couple of hours and hang on their terrace after check out while I waited for my apartment to be ready. The only minor problem I had staying at the hotel was my room key card decided it was suddenly going to stop working. However, one of the cleaning staff noticed I was having issues and let me into my room to get myself sorted before I could head down to the front desk, who sorted it out in moments.
They serve room service from TART until 11pm, so when after I'd finally made it from the airport, showered and was sitting in front of the TV in some comfy pyjamas, and I got a bit peckish at 10pm, I did not really have to move to be catered for. One thing that would have been nice would be if they'd actually had a menu from the restaurant in the room to browse, but you can easily find it online (after logging into the Wifi where you can play a mini farmers daughter pac-man game on the homepage to explore the immediate area and get yourself situated) before calling down to the restaurant to order. I had the crab and avocado toasts which were delicious, and really what I needed late at night. I was particularly impressed with the smoky quality to the toasted bread, which I discovered in a few more dishes the next day when I did a tasting with TART's executive chef (again, more on that next week). However, the thing that got me really excited about room service was that it was brought to my door in a picnic basket, complete with a red chequered table cloth.
Over the restaurant tasting, I had a little chat with Peter Picataggio, one half of the husband and wife team that owns the hotel about its history, and what exactly makes the hotel unique. I'd mentioned that it had had it's heyday and declined into something a bit seedy. When they purchased the hotel the outdoor seating area was a parking lot, and across from that there was a room that was just being used for storage. Well, while the rest of the hotel stripped its reputation as a pay per hour joint (to the point where people were urging them not to keep the original name of the hotel so that they could leave its reputation behind them), they decided to open up that extra room as Room 101, and do it up in a cheeky nod to the hotel's past. The coppered detailing, leather and denim bedding, and mirrored ceiling above the bed are just a stylish and quirky as the rest of the hotel, but rather cheeky, too. Peter is fantastic fun as a subject for an informal interview; he clearly loves his hotel and put his heart and soul into it. He also has a great story about how the marketing for this particular room ended with the vice squad paying the hotel a visit!
My stay at Farmers Daughter was everything I was looking for in a hotel in a city I was in for both work and play. As with London, I think I held this first hotel I've reviewed in L.A. to a bit of a higher standard than I would a hotel somewhere I was unfamiliar with, because I know the area so well. I'd happily stay here again, and recommend it to both friends and all of you, regardless of the reason you're in the city. I'm not exaggerating when I say that Farmers Daughter is my favourite hotel I've reviewed so far.
I was a guest of the Farmers Daughter Hotel paying a special rate in return for my review.