Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Clean and well-appointed hotel in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood
A glass atrium lobby with fresh-cut orchids and Yellow Fin, a 3,284-pound steel sculpture by David Stromeyer, introduces the elegant and artsy Omni, part of the Texas-based hotel chain that runs 40 properties in the U.S. Formerly the Hotel Intercontinental, the Omni Los Angeles opened in 1992 as part of the California Plaza complex, a group of office towers that share an outdoor shopping and food court and a water park -- basically an elaborate fountain -- where concerts are held in the summer. The Omni Hotel chain acquired the property in 2000 and stuck to the original plan of mixing art and commerce, catering to business travelers while decorating the place with works by blue-chip artists like Frank Stella, Lita Albuquerque and Norman Sunshine. The Frank Gehry designed stainless-steel Walt Disney Concert Hall is two blocks away and can be seen from hotel windows facing west and north.
The Omni is a self-contained full-service hotel with a spacious, window-filled fitness center, a spa with a sauna and steam room, a decent-size lap pool, two restaurants, a breakfast shop, an array of meeting rooms, and an impressive two-story lobby that's a work of art in itself. Concierge service is top-drawer, valet parking expensive, and the menu at the Noe Restaurant adventurous. The hotel's standard rooms are larger than most, with plush beds and tasteful if somewhat dated furnishings. For travelers who want plenty of space as well as a modicum of luxury, the Omni is probably the best choice downtown.
The immediate neighborhood is good for museum and music hopping during the day, but at night it's bleak and lonely. Downtown Los Angeles is still enjoying its urban pioneer days, so, like downtown New York City in the 1980s, it's a dark, edgy place inhabited by homeless people, club kids, artists, and a few brave professionals living in lofts in old warehouses, banks, former flophouses, and historic hotels. For fun, one can hazard a walk on the wild side down seven sketchy blocks to the hip bars, cafes and restaurants in the Old Bank District and Gallery Row (corner of 5th and Main); even further afield is the Arts District near Little Tokyo, where there are more cafes, galleries and a popular Belgian beer garden called Wurstkuche. To be safe, book the hotel's complimentary limo to take you there. It's well worth the trip.
Excellent, courteous service
The Omni chain encourages each employee in its vast empire of hotels to smile, make eye contact, and remember first names -- and in L.A. they practice what the home office preaches.
Financial district of downtown Los Angeles
The Omni sits on Bunker Hill in the financial district of downtown Los Angeles. Originally a wealthy Victorian neighborhood and later a slum and stomping ground of L.A. literary bad boys like Raymond Chandler and John Fante, Bunker Hill was leveled in the 1950s to make way for towering skyscraper complexes like the Wells Fargo Center and the California Plaza towers, which overshadow the Omni like power forwards closing in on a point guard. It's a great location for travelers who want to check out L.A.'s art scene, the Lakers and the Dodgers and see rock concerts. The ride to LAX airport is a straight shot down the 110 freeway and can take 20 minutes with no traffic. If you want to visit Los Angeles for sunshine, beaches, celebrity sightings -- basically to catch the glitzy movie star experience -- you'd be better off staying in Hollywood and Beverly Hills. For those who like traveling off the beaten path, the Omni is a comfortable, civilized way of doing it.
Very spacious standard rooms with luxury bedding and furnishings, but a somewhat dated look and feel
The standard-level "Deluxe Rooms" are very clean, well-lit and have a creamy beige, lightweight texture. The look, in other words, is a bit dated, especially compared to the sleek, dark urbane look that you see in many Los Angeles hotels such as the Standard, Sunset Marquis, and even the historic but updated Hilton Checkers. Renovations in 2011 brought new flat-screen TVs, a slightly more contemporary decor and upscale linens to the rooms, and a more modern look to the hallways and other common areas.
Still, even now, most every thing is solid in terms of quality, with lots of hardwood, brass and glass, and everything is in excellent condition, probably due to a 2007 "soft" renovation of the beddings, curtains, and carpets. The sheets are white and crisp and the down pillows are full and very cushy. The bathroom also is a bit generic, although the large gilt-framed mirror above the sink and marble tiles are nice touches.
The lobby really defines this hotel: It's large, bright, and inviting, filled with art and exotic fresh cut flowers; there's also a library-like nook where one can quietly read a newspaper or peck at a laptop. In the rest of the city a heated outdoor lap pool is just about standard issue, but in downtown L.A. it's a rare bird. So is a full-service spa with a sauna and steam room and a decent size fitness room with new cardio equipment and weights and sliding glass doors opening out to the terrace.
Large rooms and proximity to Dodger Stadium, Staple Center, and Nokia Theatre make this pretty good choice for families, despite the business vibe.
Though mostly geared to business travelers -- the staff says 65 percent of its clientele are suits -- spacious rooms, lots of amenties, kids' menus, and proximity to family-friendly tourist attractions makes this a decent choice for families. And the hotel offers welcome gifts and other special items to children. Families tend to book rooms in the summer during baseball season, when the Dodgers are in town.
Well maintained and clean
Noe is an upscale foodie feed with a pricey menu featuring California fusion dishes, which means lots of Japanese-style fish entrees (snapper with edamame), French bistro fare (duck confit roulade), and American red meat (prime rib). Six and nine course tasting menus are also available. The Noe also has a lively bar and a bar menu with finger food like a crudite platter, sliders and an "ice cream burger" for desert. An open patio, popular for afterwork drinks and alfresco dining, has great views of the surrounding skyscrapers, especially at night.
This 453-room luxury hotel caters largely to business travelers and other adults, but is spacious standard rooms, heated lap pool, and proximity to attractions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art make it a fine choice for families, especially when its rates dip well below those at other luxury hotels.
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