W Los Angeles WestwoodWest LA, Los Angeles, California
- Not close to many popular tourist attractions
- Fee for Internet access
- Fee for parking
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The L.A. outpost of Starwood's "contemporary lifestyle" brand excels in both style and substance.
It's easy to poke fun at the W brand. Starwood's decade-old chain, targeted at Gen-Xers, can feel painfully hip -- and many of its trademarks are gimmicky at best. Doormats and elevator rugs are changed throughout the day to read "Good Morning," "Good Afternoon," or "Good Evening." The front desk staff -- sorry, "welcome-desk" staff -- answers the phone with, "What's your wish?" And, of course, there's the letter "W" itself, ubiquitous to the last detail: by itself on the pillows in the lobby and outside by the pool, alliteratively on the buttons on the phone in your room -- "whatever/whenever," "welcome desk," "welcome ambassador," "wheels" (that would be valet parking).
But unlike at, say, the new outpost in Boston, where the W's hyper-sleek design and cutesy touches don't quite mesh with its home city, the whole production feels appropriate for Southern California. The Westwood branch, the only W in Los Angeles, features the aforementioned trademarks, natch, and tosses in some "SoCal" of its own. Showtime has aired special screenings of the season finale of Dexter at CHILL (see Features, below), complete with "killer hors d'oeuvres and spine-tingling Dexter-themed cocktails." In the elevators, a camera snaps rapid-fire digital shots of whoever steps inside and posts them, matrix-style, on the wall. Then, in between the slides, come instructions: "Show us your sexy," "Make the mirror face," "What else you got?" What member of the "Me Generation" doesn't like a dollop of narcissism with his hospitality?
As for the substance to go with all that style? Excellent across the board. The W isn't an all-out luxury experience, but it's up there with the best of the upper-midrange places in the city. Everything the W can control -- the rooms, the service, the amenities -- it does superbly. And with renovations in 2012 to the Living Room, bar, and other public spaces, the hotel has created a more cohesive aesthetic throughout. High-tech meeting rooms were included in the renovation as well. The restaurant and Backyard area will receive similar revamping in 2013.
The W's biggest drawback -- and it's not much of one -- is the one thing it can't control: its location. Clean, safe, but somewhat staid Westwood is a fine base for exploring other parts of L.A., and you'll probably have a car no matter where you stay, but if you're not in town for something taking place at UCLA, there's little reason to actively seek out this part of town. If you are in town to conduct business or celebration at UCLA, there isn't a lot of choice nearby anyway. The Palomar, several blocks away, is the only other "major" hotel near UCLA; thus, about half the rooms in the area can be found at the W. Basically, you can't go wrong either way. If you feel like showing your sexy, whisk yourself wayward to the W.
(A final note: As you'd expect, the W tends to fill up for graduation, parents' weekend, and during alumni-related events, so keep those dates in mind when you book.)
Impressive from top to bottom
The front desk staff is on the ball; the concierge knows her stuff. If a guest misses a wake-up call one morning, someone comes by the room to knock on the door and make sure you're up. Cloudy night in UCLA? The doorman will fetch you an umbrella before you head out.
- W's signature "Acura Experience" allows for free drop-off service within five miles; you can schedule a pick-up, or even borrow a car yourself.
- 24-hour room service. They can also prepare a "W2GO" bag lunch to take on the plane (sandwich, chips, water, apple, cookies)
- In-room spa (or "spaaahhh...," as it says on the card in your room) services available upon request
In Westwood, home to UCLA but no major tourist attractions
The W Westwood is in (surprise!) Westwood, a neighborhood in West L.A. best known as the home of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). It's neither the most picturesque nor happening part of the city -- short of premieres at the many vintage movie theaters, there's little here in the way of destination bars, restaurants, or attractions. But it's safe and clean, and as long as you have a car (a safe assumption in L.A.), it's a convenient home base for exploring both Beverly Hills and Hollywood to the east and Santa Monica and the coast to the west.
- A few blocks from UCLA, but the campus is huge, so you might even want a car, depending where on campus you need to be
- Short walk to Westwood Village, the nice collection of shops and eateries near campus
- Also close to Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, where Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Burt Lancaster, and other stars are buried
- 15-minute drive to the Getty Center, L.A.'s most impressive art institution
- 10- to 20-minute drive to Santa Monica, a beach town rich with shops, restaurants, and a touristy pier
- 20- to 30-minute drive to Venice Beach, with its skateboarders, surfers, and hipster restaurants
- 10 minutes to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills
- 30 minutes to Universal Studios Hollywood
- 20 minutes to touristy Hollywood Boulevard and its Walk of Fame
- 20- to 45-minute drive to Los Angeles International (LAX), depending on traffic
Huge suites and large studios; all are clean, well-appointed, and eminently 21st century
Like in all W rooms, the ones at this branch have a lot going on, from the fun but useless ("WISH" kaleidoscopes, six-inch-long foam Acuras) to the aesthetic (modern art, stylized furniture) and utilitarian (iPod-compatible stereos, flat-screen TVs). There are no fewer than five sources of light (lamps, deck fluorescents, etc.) in the suites' living rooms alone; the L-shaped couches come with five pillows.
And yet, the W never loses sight of the forest for the trees: it succeeds with the basics as well. The rooms are bright, clean, and (unusual for a W) spacious. Wonderful Studios run 400 square feet; theSpectacular Suite -- the smallest suite type -- is a whopping 650. The beds don't quite match up with those of, say, the Westin -- cotton-polyester linens, no duvets, only two pillows -- but they're still comfy. Our only two complaints relate to the bathroom: The shower didn't drain very well, and washing your hands is unwieldy because of the fashionable but not terribly functional faucets, which are too close to the vessel sinks.
- Renovated in 2007 and extremely well maintained
- Decent beds with Simmons Beautyrest Plush mattresses, mattress pads, and 60 percent cotton-blend linens
- Though the W's website says that its TVs are 42 inches, some are smaller; 35 channels, including HBO and Showtime
- iPod-compatible Sony CD players with the W's signature "Sound of Wonderlust" CD (Kylie Minogue, anyone?)
- Tivoli alarm clocks
- Absurdly overpriced minibar (pricey bottled water) and snack basket; even a few souvenirs
- Excellent water pressure in the shower
- Cypress waffle-comb bathrobes
- W's trademark Bliss lemon+sage bath products
An excellent array, both in quantity and quality
The W boasts an impressive range of features, especially given the size of the hotel, and they're all great, if not quite top-notch:
- WET. That would be the pool, natch. It was closed when I was there (more on that in a moment), but it seemed like it would be a great place to hang out or take a dip in nice weather. The highlights: half a dozen slick cabanas, outfitted with L-shaped couches and flat-screen TVs
- SWEAT. The fitness center (duh). It's well equipped (free weights, fitness orbs, cardio machines with TV screens), though not as spectacular as some W gyms.
- CHILL. From mid-November to late January, the pool becomes a skating rink. Fee for an hour admission includes skate rental.
- Bliss Spa. Full range of spa and salon treatments.
- WIRED. Small business center; services cost extra.
- PAW Pets Are Welcome program: all pets welcome, for a nightly fee.
- Acura Experience: guests can be driven to, or drive themselves to, any destination in a 5 mile radius.
- Valet parking costs a fee per night, which is expensive even for L.A.
Kids aren't the target audience here
Not particularly kid-friendly, the W chain is unapologetically geared toward Gen-Xers and -- provisionally -- their well-behaved progeny. From the "intimacy kits" in the minibars to the cutesy directives in the elevators ("Show us your sexy"), the W is clearly designed with hip couples and young singles in mind. That's not to say it won't accommodate kids. After all, the "whatever, whenever" service mantra also applies to the little ones in tow.
Not a problem
The W was fully renovated in 2007 and is still looking sharp. 2012 and 2013 renovations are underway to most public spaces.
Two solid restaurants on-site and a few decent options nearby
The W's main restaurant, NineThirty, is just as overpriced as your typical business-oriented urban-hotel eatery, but its "farm to table" seasonal cuisine makes it a good option for any meal. Besides, Westwood isn't exactly a bastion of fine dining. For a gastronomical trip, grab a meal or two at NineThirty and take the car to Santa Monica, Venice, or Beverly Hills for the rest.
Whiskey Blue, a destination bar
Like many Ws, the Westwood branch features a hip, happening bar popular enough to draw locals as well as guests. The place was hopping well past midnight even on dreary, rainy nights.
Old Hollywood it ain't, but exceptional service and a hip setting makes the W a fun choice.
The W Westwood is a bit new to the wedding scene, but it's making bold efforts to win in the non-traditional wedding market. While they're not wedding planners per se, the hotel does provide guests with a wedding coordinator who can help organize your event -- be it candles or a two-hour appointment with a celebrity stylist for the entire bridal party -- plus you can track your guests (and their bookings) on your own Wow Vows web page. Plus, you can collect Starwoods Preferred Guest reward points for the wedding (up to 20,000 points), the bachelor(ette) parties, rehearsal dinners, and other events at the hotel.
- Wedding Size: between 50 and 350 guests; only one wedding held per day
- Extra Fees and Restrictions: There's a space rental fee, which varies depending on the day of the week and the time of year.
- Ceremony and Reception Location: The Great Room, the hotel's main meeting room, hosts most weddings, though you can also host an event by the pool.
- Food and Drinks: The average menu ranges in cost per person. If you want hors d'oeuvres, it'll cost another fee per person. Bar prices vary depending on the alcohol selection and package. Kid-friendly, vegan, kosher, and gluten-free menus are all available by request.
- Spa Treatments: The on-site Bliss spa offers a full menu of services, including hair and makeup.
- Honeymoon Suite: With the standard wedding package, the W offers a free Wow Suite for the bride and groom on their wedding night.
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Things You Should Know About W Los Angeles Westwood
Address930 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90024, United States
Also Known As
- w Hotel Los Angeles
- w Hotels Los Angeles
- Extreme Wow Suite
- Fabulous Suite
- Mega Suite
- Spectacular Suite
- Wonderful Studio
- Wow Suite