Delano Hotel Rating: 4.5 Pearls

The huge infinity pool -- or "water salon," as dubbed by designer Starck -- is both a trendy scene and a relaxing one. Classical music plays underwater, and an ornate silver table and chairs sit right in the pool for whoever snags them first. In front of the pool, there's a beautiful orchard of manicured ficus trees. A giant chessboard and huge mirror within the orchard, like the giant chair in the lobby, help create an Alice-in-Wonderland feel.

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Take a trip down the rabbit hole: Explore Philippe Starck's surrealist design (2 of 14)

 The huge infinity pool -- or "water salon," as dubbed by designer Starck -- is both a trendy scene and a relaxing one. Classical music plays underwater, and an ornate silver table and chairs sit right in the pool for whoever snags them first. In front of the pool, there's a beautiful orchard of manicured ficus trees. A giant chessboard and huge mirror within the orchard, like the giant chair in the lobby, help create an Alice-in-Wonderland feel.
The Delano's beautiful lobby, designed by Philipe Starck and decorated with billowing white curtains, chairs, and objects by the likes of Charles and Ray Eames and Salvador Dali, becomes a mob scene at night. Anyone and everyone wants to get their picture taken in the hotel's famous oversized chair, and they do. The huge infinity pool -- or "water salon," as dubbed by designer Starck -- is both a trendy scene and a relaxing one. Classical music plays underwater, and an ornate silver table and chairs sit right in the pool for whoever snags them first. In front of the pool, there's a beautiful orchard of manicured ficus trees. A giant chessboard and huge mirror within the orchard, like the giant chair in the lobby, help create an Alice-in-Wonderland feel. Renovated in 2006 and 2007, the still all-white, Starck-designed rooms have just three dramatic touches of color: the green-stone-topped desk; a large, real, potted plant; and a single green apple resting on a metal plinth engraved with the words "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." The Philippe Starck-designed SLS, opened in 2008, may dazzle -- and possibly overwhelm -- the senses with capital-D design. Entering the lobby, guests pass an outdoor area replete with white leather seating, illuminated resin deer antlers, and bookshelves, then enter through double glass doors to find an empty desk to the right, a restaurant in front, and a black lacquered concierge desk to the left -- but no check-in desk. That's around the corner, tucked away in near-pitch-black darkness. The sleek Philippe Starck-designed rooms are fairly spacious at 400 square feet, and the beds are super luxurious. But get used to staring at yourself, because dark mirrors cover nearly every surface. Bathrooms are exceptionally spacious, but they, too, are lined with mirrors. Yes, even the shower. Guests can eat exceptionally well at the SLS without leaving the building. Executive chef Jose Andres (who beat chef Bobby Flay on "Iron Chef America") runs both of the hotel's restaurants: Bazaar, which serves Spanish small plates; and Tres, which serves Spanish-influenced California cuisine. Bazaar earned a rare four-star rating from the LA Times restaurant critic. But be aware that Andres takes the "small" in "small plate" to an entirely new level -- The Philly cheesesteak with cheddar and wagyu beef is delicious, but it's $8 for two or three bites. Morgans Hotel Group opened the 239-room Mondrian in December 1996 with an over-the-top design courtesy of Philippe Starck. The intention, according to the hotel, was to bring the beach to Hollywood, with blond wood floors in the lobby standing in for sand. A massive slatted pool deck plays the part of beach. The open-air, poolside Skybar, to this day a fixture of L.A. nightlife, recalls a surfside drink shack -- albeit one slinging cocktails for double-digit prices and bottle service for even more. Guests are guaranteed access into this "it's who you know" hot spot. Designed by Philippe Starck in 2000 to look like an enchanted urban forest, the 807-room Hudson (initially built as a Y.M.C.A. in the 1920s) is the discount version of boutique luxury. Starck covered the 40-foot-high ceiling in the dark, cavernous lobby with ivy and hung an enormous chandelier above the front desk. (The hotel's lobby is actually on the second floor, accessed by a single escalator that leads up from the sign-less street entrance.) Boutique hotelier Ian Schrager sent ripples through the hotel industry with his plans to create a cheap but ultra-stylish hotel -- unheard of in New York at the time -- that would, he said, be a "modern Y.M.C.A., an urban spa in the middle of the city." When the hotel opened, it actually managed to live up to the hype. Celebrities flocked to Hudson Bar and the Library Bar, and the Hudson lobby became a place to be seen, even while guests paid $95 for cramped quarters upstairs. Starting at just 136 square feet, the rooms are extremely small -- but also sleek, with Wi-Fi (for $10 per day), flat-screens, and Aqua toiletries. But they're showing significant wear since 2000. The 350-room Clift hotel actually dates back to 1924, but the Morgans Group overhaul, headed up by Philippe Starck and finished in 2001, left little evidence of the building's Art Deco history, aside from its stone exterior. The renovated lobby contains an impressive collection of designer furniture. The cavernous lobby is dark, moody and selectively lit to highlight a collection of funky furniture by a roster of famous designers, including the memorable and oft-photographed Alice in Wonderland-esque giant chair. Overall, the Clift is the kind of place that screams "sexy" and "high design" -- like a set from Sex and the City come to life. Rooms are around 260 to 400 square feet, which is average for a historic building in this area. Philippe Starck's minimalist design and strategic use of wall-to-wall mirrors makes the rooms feel larger than they really are. The near all-white palette with cool lavender accents also helps keep the rooms feeling as open and airy as possible. But if minimalist design sounds alarm bells, fear not: The furnishings are still extremely comfortable, the technology is modern and top-notch, the toiletries are made by Korres, and the minibar is well stocked.
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