Koreatown, Los Angeles
Trendy, $$ (from $199)
If Koreatown is the place to be in Los Angeles — let’s take the many electric eateries, hidden bars, and new developments popping up as substantial evidence that it is — then surely Line LA is the place to stay. For anyone familiar with the Sydell Group, which owns and operates the Freehand and the Nomad hotels (both have outposts in Los Angeles), as well as additional Line hotels in D.C. and Austin (LA was their first), this news comes as no surprise. The boutique hotel empire is known for opening iconic properties that interpret and redefine neighborhoods. Along with a slew of Los Angeles natives — including designer Sean Knibb and nightlife impresarios Jonnie and Mark Houston — the team oversaw the hotel’s metamorphosis from 1960s-era Brutalist building on Wilshire Boulevard to pulsing Koreatown hotspot. And that was way back in 2014. Much has changed in the neighborhood since, but one thing remains the same: The Line LA is a rad place to be.
At a Glance
Vibe: Buzzy, at times downright bumping, with a cafe-meets-gallery vibe in the lobby and an industrial-chic aesthetic in the rooms that makes the hotel feel as inviting as it is mesmerizing.
Standout Detail: The lively and highly Instagrammable combination of Openaire (the second-floor restaurant in a working greenhouse) and the outdoor pool next to it (which regularly hosts guest DJs) makes the hotel one of the coolest spots for locals and tapped-in visitors alike.
This Place Is Perfect For: Night owls, stylish millennials, nomadic types who love to work in a great hotel lobby, and anyone interested in discovering the culinary delights of Koreatown.
Rooms: 384 light-filled rooms have floor-to-ceiling views of the neighborhood, some overlooking the Hollywood Hills. Custom plush-topped mattresses, oversized desks, low-hanging lamps, loungey tables, and tasteful seating are either sourced or made by designer Sean Knibb in a studio in nearby Venice Beach. Work from local artists hang on the wall. The Speek Suite, one of the hotel’s ten suites, was designed by Mark and Jonnie Houston of the speakeasy Break Room 86 downstairs to induce nostalgia, with Malm-style fireplaces, retro wallpaper, and ceiling-high curio cabinets that mimic the '60s and '70s decor of their childhood Koreatown home. Blackout shades guard against rude, early morning awakenings and have fun, exterior-facing pops of color. Mini bars are filled with a combination of Western and Korean snacks. Bathrooms, bright and refreshing with gold fixtures and bath products from local brand Buckler’s, recall a more stylish version of one of the area’s many Korean day spas.
On Site: Free WiFi, 24/7 gym and business center, outdoor pool, 12,000 square feet of meeting and event space, complimentary Linus bikes with custom ride maps, and complimentary tai chi on Sundays. Poketo runs an outpost of their fantastic design boutique in the lobby, curated by husband-wife team Angie Myung and Ted Vadakan.
Food and Drink: The gloriously Instgrammable second-floor restaurant Openaire, helmed by Michelin-starred chef and native Angeleno Josiah Citrin, functions out of a working greenhouse and focuses on vegetable-forward dishes that take inspiration from the neighborhood. A poolside grill dishes out backyard-BBQ-inspired bites just next door. Lobby Bar on the first floor sports a sophisticated menu of bar snacks and Mexican- and Korean-inflected cocktails, best enjoyed during their excellent happy hour. Open late is Break Room 86, the speakeasy-style nightlife venue from LA's own Houston Brothers, which features live performances, guest DJs, karaoke suites, a dance floor, and lots of boozy push pops. For the day after, Alfred in the lobby does coffee, their own blend of matcha sourced straight from Japan, and a selection of yummy snacks.
What to Do Nearby
The Line LA is located in the heart of Koreatown, the city’s only 24/7 neighborhood. If you're big on food or nightlife (or food as nightlife), you’re in the right place. Koreatown is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in terms of bars and restaurants, so adventurous foodies need only follow their nose to find quality eats. But for those who can’t set out without recommendations, there are a few things locals agree on.
Here’s Looking At You is the trendy place to bring New York friends for eclectic small plates like beef tartare with red chilies and surprisingly good tiki drinks. Guelaguetza, which does a mean mole among other great Oaxacan dishes, is a great way to show visitors that Koreatown isn’t just home to Koreans. The Walker Inn, located in the back of The Normandie Club, is the place to end a night of good drinking with cocktail-obsessed pals.
Other than that, specifically on the topic of best Korean food, it depends on who you ask. For Korean barbecue, some say Park's BBQ, while others suggest steering clear of their prices in favor of something delicious and reliable, like Kang Hodong Baekjeong. For anything other than Korean barbecue, it’s a toss-up between a handful of excellent local joints. Dan Sung Sa (3317 W. 6th St.; +1-213-487-9100 ) is known as a great place to pound back beer and soju and snack on rice cakes among graffiti-filled interiors that recall back alley joints in Seoul. Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant is where one can follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain and enjoy a pipping hot bowl of silken tofu stew. The Prince, the old-school spot that has made cameos in Mad Men and Chinatown, serves addictive fried chicken.
The list goes on, but if you’re not in town to eat, the metro is right across the street (not that anyone takes public transportation in LA), and Silver Lake, Hollywood, and Downtown are a quick Uber ride away. Even the beach is within reach, though if you're traveling during rush hour you'll have to you exercise patience. Because LA traffic. But Koreatown in central enough that the city is yours for the taking.