A luxury city-hopping trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco with tour operator Carrier offers you the chance to discover California at its finest
Words: Jonathan Whiley
WHERE TO STAY
Shutters on the Beach
The epitome of Californian beach living, this Santa Monica bolthole, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is framed by palm trees and is understated five-star cool. Steps from the Pacific Ocean, famed 1930s’ hangout Muscle Beach is a five-minute stroll, while the Ferris wheel of Santa Monica Pier lies just beyond. Hop on a bicycle (one-hour daily complimentary use for guests) and cycle to Venice Beach or take advantage of the hotel’s house car which offers complimentary rides within three miles. Start your day with lemon ricotta pancakes “from the griddle” before kicking back like an A-lister at the elegant poolside cabanas, before watching the sunset with a spritz in hand. Rooms are compact, classic and supremely comfortable, while guests are a chic mix of business and leisure. At night the garden enchants with its festooned lanterns and live music ensures the atmosphere crackles as much as the lobby’s roaring fire.
London West Hollywood
A stone’s throw from Sunset Boulevard, this Beverly Hills retreat comes with bags of swagger. The hotel’s rooftop pool is surely one of LA’s best. Bring a novel and best intentions, but prepare to abandon it as the beautiful people come and go. During our time, Iggy Pop drifted in to lounge with friends for hours. Location is excellent; within each reach of Hollywood’s starriest attractions – for Selling Sunset fans The Oppenheim office is a short walk away – while never suffocated by the glitz.
Rooms are smart and incredibly spacious – all are suites – while a British flavour runs throughout; from the cocktails (London Cooler? Britz Spritz?) to the food, with the likes of beef wellington and sticky toffee pudding offered alongside a New York strip streak.
WHAT TO DO
For a flavour of La La Land beyond the Walk of Fame, Carrier’s private foodie tour of downtown LA is pitch-perfect. Our guide, former teacher and LA resident Mary, provides a fascinating history; from Union Station to Avila Adobe (the oldest existing house in LA, built in 1818) via the Walt Disney Concert Hall and a trip to the 1901 Angels Flight funicular railway. Along the way, she points out the court room where O.J. Simpson stood trial, what it felt like to be in the 1994 earthquake (“a thump from below”) and all the while feasting on the likes of caramel-filled churros and later, El Salvador delicacy Pupusa, at Great Union Market. LA is not a city short on great dining spots; Jon & Vinny’s carriers cult Italian status, the famed Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel remains one of the most atmospheric spots in town and The Bungalow (a Carrier recommendation) is a place to see and be seen.
WHERE TO STAY
The San Francisco Proper
The tech capital of the world isn’t short on grand dame hotels, but for luxury with a point of difference, this boutique is hard to beat. Dubbed “the coolest kid in town”, the interiors – designed by Kelly Wearstler – are super stylish, a melting pot of old world and new. The rooftop bar is one of the hottest hangouts in the city – a chic space illuminated by firepits – while both the cocktails and cuisine is highly inventive.
Breakfast is a cut above with dishes such as smoked polenta with cilantro braised pork and buttermilk waffle with apple, quince and pink peppercorn cream.
Staff are young and accomplished, while a house car is available for complimentary trips within three miles. Its location is its only drawback with the Mid Market district blighted by homelessness.
Marketed as “up and coming”, the local government has plans for the area to become more desirable. Look past that and you’re in for a treat.
WHAT TO DO
Carrier can arrange anything from a seaplane adventure to a bespoke private tour with a guide. The latter is a great way to explore a city of glorious technicolour and innovation, which bets big on ideas (Uber was first born here). Travel via cable car to affluent Nob Hill – one-time home of railroad barons – with the majestic Grace Cathedral, before heading to famously steep Lombard Street. Pier 39 is abundant with sea lions and particularly touristy – as is infamous former prison Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge – but all are worth a visit. For film fans, the ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ house can be found in an area known as ‘Billionaires’ Row’. Revel in a dose of 1930s’ cool at retro bar, Stookey’s, an dance the night away at iconic
tiki-themed lounge, Tonga Room, within the Fairmont Hotel.
Carrier (0161 492 1356, carrier.co.uk) offers a 9-night itinerary from £9,055 per person. Price includes 3 nights at Shutters on the Beach (room only), 3 nights at the London West Hollywood (B&B basis) and 3 nights at the San Francisco Proper (room only). Activities including a walking tour of San Francisco and private foodie tour of downtown LA. Return Club World flights from London Heathrow with BA. Price based on departure June 1, 2023.