Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Past its prime, the hotel is overlooked by the city's cool crowd and its caretakers -- but not a bad deal for those on a tight budget.
Prior to its opening in May 2002, the downtown Standard had spent more than two years under renovations. Vacant for years when it was purchased by hotelier Andre Balazs, who at the time owned New York's Mercer, L.A.'s Chateau Marmont and the Standard Hollywood, the 12-story building was built in 1952 and once served as the headquarters of the Superior Oil Company, a marble-clad, old-money testament to corporate elegance in the City of Quartz. Balaz and his design partners infused the building's historical elements (like the 15-time-zone clock and the iconic "S") with a Day-Glo modernist deco spin. Upon opening, the Standard immediately became a hipper-than-thou, international A-list nightlife destination, pioneering a return of cool to downtown Los Angeles with a potent cocktail of pool parties, DJs, and tawdry celebrity penthouse ballyhoo.
Unfortunately, the hotel's first renovation was its last, and basically nothing has been changed, replaced, or revitalized since (including the nasty wool blankets tucked into the beds). Running on almost-decade-old fumes, this property has become the neglected stepsibling to the brand's other outposts, especially now that there's a new baby getting all the attention, the Standard New York. In short, it looks, smells, and feels dirty. DJs play the lobby nightly and the roof still hosts frequent events, but it's not surprising that this place isn't the epicenter of rad that it once was.
All that said, if you consider the low prices, the Standard still has quite a bit going for it. The pool offers fantastic views of L.A. skyscrapers. The 24/7 restaurant -- named for it's hours of operation -- is still delicious, and still open always. And then there's the excellent location in the heart of downtown, close to the Metro and tourism staples such as MOCA, the library, and the Disney Concert Hall. In fact, the Standard's location will keep it a viable option as long as its doors stay open. Ultimately, it's still an excellent deal for young, low-budget travelers looking for a stellar downtown location, a nightlife scene, a rooftop swim, a late-night meal, and who don't mind a little grime.
A going-through-the-motions reception at check-in is typical of a hotel that does just enough to keep getting by.
The Standard Downtown LA has services that cater to night owls, offering 24-hour room service, concierge service, and fitness center; even the downstairs restaurant/patio stays open all night. But the hotel is not the nightlife fixture it once was, the penthouses and suites aren't always booked by A-listers anymore, and the guests are just regular people taking advantage of the amazing location and low prices.
An amazing location that's only getting more relevant with the ongoing revitalization of L.A.'s downtown
Los Angeles refuses to abandon the potential of its downtown area as a place for young tastemakers, with new bars and restaurants opening (the phenomenal Bottega Louie), older, famed haunts undergoing chic renovations (Cole's), an emphasis on the city's Fashion Week, and a new L.A. Philharmonic conductor in his late twenties. As such, the Standard, conveniently located between two Metro stops and blocks away from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the downtown library, continues to be geographically relevant for its desired youthful clientele.
Even the smallest rooms in the hotel boast giant windows, 14-foot desks, "show-all" glass showers, iPod docks, and queen-size beds with nice 100 percent Egyptian cotton bedding. Unfortunately, the rooms haven't been renovated (or well maintained) since the hotel opened in 2002, and what might have once appeared as luxurious and innovative in design now just feels tired and partied out. The bed was covered with a wool blanket that looked as though it hasn't been changed since the hotel opened. The desk was cracked (it's worse than it looks: when leaned on while trying to open the window, it threatened full collapse); the iPod dock speakers were blown out; the mattresses was literally bursting at the seams; the showerhead was filthy; and the lining of the shower had lots of visible grime. All in all, it seems as though no manager has done a simple walk-through in a long time.
Rooftop and lobby bar scene; 24-hour fitness center, restaurant, business center
Once the hub of downtown partying, the Standard has since toned down its manic, hedonistic ways as the party shifted elsewhere. These days art installations, wine tastings, and rooftop jazz performances -- plus the occasional appearance by internationally renown trance and house DJs -- are more typical of the entertainment.
The Standard's pool and rooftop bar is infamous for its parties and scandalous, after-hours swimming. The pool runs in one long, wide lane and is heated to what feels like bathwater; it's big by rooftop standards, and part of it alcoves off to face a lounge area, inviting dry-land-to-pool commingling. And while the nightlife scene is still active, guests who simply want to lay by the pool in the afternoon will find the cool-looking miso-soup-spoon-shaped deck chairs uncomfortable -- they're all form, no function. Forget about eating or reading, let alone lying facedown to tan your back; some guests choose to lay on a towel on the concrete.
While local parents could bring their children to the pool in the afternoon, not much about the hotel is kid friendly.
The Standard is not a family-oriented hotel, nor does it claim to be. The double standard room does have two queen beds, and a toilet separated from the shower (which also has a curtain, so kids aren't forced to see things they shouldn't see), so it is an option.
Serious cleanliness problems; the hotel's years as a party hotel have taken a toll.
Let's be blunt: The hallways smell like a failed attempt to remove the scent of cigarettes and vomit. After so many years of late-night room parties, the "No Smoking" signs now feel tongue-in-cheek because the smell is there to stay. The poolside food menus are crusty and greasy. The outdoor foosball table by the entrance hasn't been cleaned in -- well, perhaps ever. An exception is the fitness center, which is kept extremely clean and well stocked with fresh towels. The sheets were crisp and clean, but only after throwing that petri dish of a wool blanket aside. The showerhead is grimy and the carpet feels greasy under your bare feet. It does not add up to a comfortable night's sleep.
24/7 Restaurant, a consistently good New American bistro/diner, also provides the 24-hour room service.
While there are many alternatives for dining in the downtown area, the 24/7 Restaurant is still a fun and tasty option with very reasonable prices -- especially the late-night menu, where outrageous prices usually lie in wait. Dinner entrees range in price. Room service, also provided by 24/7, was quick and fresh, even though they couldn't answer some simple questions ("What kind of cottage cheese is it? Is it fat free?"), indicating a distance between the kitchen and the room-service staff, which is a common cause of error.
This once-hip, 207-room hotel may be the forgotten child of the Standard empire -- it's run-down and partied out -- but the poolside view is still hard to beat, the design is still striking, and the prices can dip way low. A fine deal for low-budget travelers who want a stellar downtown location and don't mind some grime.
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