Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A hip, recently overhauled midsize hotel from Hyatt's newest brand, the Andaz joins an already-crowded -- and competitive -- field in West Hollywood hospitality.
A lot's changed at 8401 West Sunset Boulevard since 1975, when Robert Plant allegedly yelled, "I am a golden god!" from one of the hotel's balconies. The hotel once known as the "Riot Hyatt" has softened its edges considerably, reopening in January 2009 as Hyatt's second Andaz property. (The first is in London; two more opened in New York in 2010.) Gone are the balconies from which rock's two most famous Keiths -- Moon and Richards -- both tossed televisions; they have been replaced with glass-enclosed, rockstar-safe "sunrooms" that overlook the Sunset Strip. Also gone: windows that open, thanks, at least in spirit, to Jim Morrison, who lived at the hotel until he was reportedly evicted for hanging from his window, suspended above the Sunset Boulevard pavement. (For more on the hotel's riotous history, click here.)
Not that the Andaz has completely abandoned its rock(y) past. This is, after all, where the rockingest of all groups, Led Zeppelin, rented as many as six floors in the mid- and late-1970s for the band and its entourage. Each stylish room includes a different LP (remember those?), which, though not terribly practical -- don't try to play it in the iHome -- provides a faint reminder of the hotel's storied history. You may not see Page or Plant, but you do receive a heavy dose of Ozzie, in the form of a rotating photo exhibit by rock photographer Mark Weiss (exhibition may have since changed. Nothing like eating your organic farm fresh eggs with the Prince of Darkness staring at you from behind, eyes ablaze.
Based on experience, however, those are just cursory nods to the past. Today, about 80 percent of the Riot Hyatt's guests are business travelers; during the week, don't expect any rooftop parties or long nights at the bar. Andaz, Hyatt's newest brand, means "personal style" in Hindi, and the Southern California branch sports plenty of the sleek, sexy modernity you'd expect in West Hollywood: an inviting rooftop pool with 360-degree views and fun modern art (dig this dog, literally made of trash). The brand's tagline, "Sophistication made simple," manifests itself more in the details than the service, which can be spotty. The spacious, comfortable rooms feature some nice freebies, notably the high-quality snacks and (nonalcoholic) drinks and the Wi-Fi ("Our goal is to be hassle free," it says on your screen when you log in. "That's why the internet's on us. ... Surf's up!").
It will be interesting to see how the reimagined Hyatt does. Its biggest obstacle may not be the building or the Andaz brand or the floundering economy, but rather the stiff competition nearby, some of it literally across the street. The Andaz sits on the same stretch of Sunset Boulevard as a number of other impressive hotels, including the achingly hip Standard Hollywood and celebrity magnet Chateau Marmont, which are down the road, and the extravagantly designed Mondrian and understated Sunset Tower, which you could hit with a television from the roof of the Andaz. You'll find better service at the Sunset Tower, higher design at the Standard, and a more happening bar scene at the Mondrian. And now that the Riot Hyatt is no longer riotous, you'll want the Chateau if your goal is stargazing. But for a nice mix of style and comfort at a reasonable rate, the Andaz is an excellent pick.
In the beating heart of West Hollywood, right on the Sunset Strip
Located in a prime part of West Hollywood -- a famous bar (Saddle Ranch) and comedy club (Comedy Store) are the hotel's next-door neighbors -- the Andaz sits on the same stretch of Sunset Boulevard as a number of other popular and notable hotels, including the Standard Hollywood and Chateau Marmont, which are down the road, and the Mondrian and Sunset Tower, across the street. So, choices abound.
The Sunset Strip, which has long been known for its famed music clubs like the House of Blues (right across the street), the Roxy, Viper Room, and Whisky A Go-Go, has gotten significantly more upscale than its strip-club and head-shop days in the '70s and '80s. Not that all the grit is gone -- a few (now legal) marijuana dispensaries dot the area, and panhandlers still operate along Sunset. Overall, though, the neighborhood is safe and clean.
Clean, sleek, high-tech, and well appointed. Bonus: most boast scenic views.
The Andaz's rooms are excellent. Completely overhauled in 2008, they excel in both the crucial elements (beds, bathrooms, technology) and the little things that make a hotel stay special (bath products, freebies, views). Standard rooms run 300 (Andaz Rooms) or 350 (View Rooms) square feet -- about average for L.A., but they feel plenty spacious, partly because the bathrooms are quite small. The free snacks and drinks are supposed to be healthy and organic and local and stuff, but also include Pringles.
The Andaz boasts the standard big-city business-hotel collection of amenities -- fitness center, meeting rooms, public computers -- but the highlight, to be sure, is the pool atop the 14-floor building. Reliable word has it that it's a pretty wicked place to kick it when the sun is out. Even if you're not in a drinking mood, head up there, snag one of the cabanas overlooking the rest of L.A., and take in the killer view.
Not a great area for kids
What makes West Hollywood so appealing -- its bars and nightclubs, high-design hotels, and sedate vibe -- are precisely what make it less family-friendly than other neighborhoods in L.A., particularly Hollywood and the beaches. Still, there's no reason in particular not to take the kids to West Hollywood -- the Sunset Strip's seediest days are long gone -- and if you do, the Andaz is one of the more family-friendly options in the area.
Opened in 2009 and still looking sharp
The Andaz reopened in January 2009 after a full renovation. Besides a few small blemishes in the room (scratches on the desk, stain on the duvet), the only issue was the grime on the windows, a common problem for hotels. (And, to be fair, management noted that all windows were due for a cleaning a few days later.)
A nice restaurant on-site and plenty of other good options nearby
The Andaz's restaurant, RH, isn't particularly well known, but that's a reflection of the stiff competition in the area (including some high-profile eateries at other hotels), not the quality of the food. Serving California cuisine from Gemma Gray, meals are delicious and not outrageously expensive.
It's no longer as hip or famous as its West Hollywood neighbors (the Chateau, Sunset Tower, and Mondrian), and the service can be spotty. But there's plenty to like about the new Andaz, which was once (in)famously known as the "Riot Hyatt": rotating art exhibits, a lovely rooftop pool, and sleek rooms with sweet views and free snacks and drinks.
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