$155 and up
For a 92-year-old hotel, the Hotel Figueroa is very “on trend,” as marketers like to say. It was built by the Y.W.C.A. as an exclusively female hostelry — a spot where single women, including aspiring actresses, could stay without fear of the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. The Figueroa supposedly even gave the United States its first female hotel manager: Maude Bouldin, a motorcyle-riding tour de force. Facing mounting debt a few years after opening, the 14-story property had to abandon its single-sex focus. Then the long decline of downtown Los Angeles took a toll. By 2014, when new owners began a $60 million luxury revamp, the hotel had a Morocco-by-way-of-Sweden theme (don’t ask) and was catering to discount German tour groups. The renovation, which was completed earlier this year, leans into the Figueroa’s feminist history, with artwork from local female artists on the walls and common spaces designed to host women-centric “salons.”
The Fig, as locals know it, sits across the street from L.A. Live, a teeming complex where the masses feed at chain restaurants before heading to the adjacent Staples Center and Microsoft Theater. The Grammy Museum is also located there. Downtown stretches in the opposite direction, offering the gentrified foodie temple Grand Central Market and the restored Theater at Ace Hotel, which hosts indie bands and screens art films. The cavernous Flower Market to the south is eye-popping and only charges $1 admission on Saturdays. Parking around the Figueroa is plentiful; we skipped the hotel’s overnight option ($49.50 with tax) and paid a flat $22 at a lot a few feet away.
Priced at $359.20 for a Saturday night in early November, not including tax, our “classic queen” room on an upper floor felt like a closet, and the view was mostly of a wall. A generously stocked minibar took up most of the actual closet, leaving no space for a suitcase. There was only one bathrobe and a lone wine glass. (My partner, Joe, sarcastically noted that the room did come with two condoms, however.) The thermostat seemed to have a mind of its own, which made me homicidal. On the plus side, there was a basket of free snacks — Oreos, Red Vines — and the bed was comfy. The room was also very quiet.
Compared to the room, the bathroom was the size of a stadium — and had all of the warmth of one. The bare walls looked like unfinished cement and one of the two light fixtures next to the mirror was missing; a bare bulb just dangled there. Turning on the shower required the navigation of two counterintuitive levers, and it was so dark in that corner of the bathroom that it was hard to tell which bottle was shampoo and which one was body wash. Paging Ms. Bouldin!
Before dinner, we stopped for drinks (a martini for Joe and a cucumber mint lemonade for me) at Rick’s, an enchanting indoor-outdoor lounge. As “Juicy” by the Notorious B.I.G. played on the sound system, we camped out by a crackling fireplace and marveled at the monumental, 50-year-old cactuses lining the hotel’s coffin-shaped pool.
Breva, the anchor restaurant (“a Basque-inspired brasserie with Mediterranean influences”), accommodated us even though we didn’t make a reservation. Our server, Christopher, patiently answered my 700 questions about the small plates and “pintxos” on the menu. We inhaled the fried kale lollipop with dill crème fraîche ($10) and toy box squash with avocado and olives ($14) before moving on to entrees, including fried chicken with a grilled peach and jalapeño salad ($29) — spicy and delicious, even if the fruit was inedibly unripe.
But breakfast was a disaster. We ordered room service using an iPad perched on the nightstand and were given a 35-minute wait time. It took an hour and 14 minutes for our simple order of coffee, yogurt and a ham, egg and cheese sandwich to arrive. The server shrugged when I complained and pointed out that the tip was already included. At least the coffee was hot.
Dogs are welcome to stay with their owners for a $50 fee. The hotel has a stylish, 24-hour gym outfitted with treadmills, an elliptical machine, kettlebells and free weights, among other items. Private yoga classes and fitness trainers are available upon request. High-speed Wi-Fi is complimentary.
Upscale boutique hotels are all about attention to detail, which seems to be a work in progress at the Figueroa.
Hotel Figueroa, 939 S. Figueroa St, Los Angeles; www.hotelfigueroa.com
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