WHAT'S IT LIKE?
Originally built in 1976 as the New Otani, and for the last few decades widely known as the Kyoto Grand, this hotel rebranded as a Doubletree by Hilton in July 2012 and has gone through a big renovation with around $40 million being spent on upgrading all the rooms and public areas.
There are still a few touches left from its Japanese heritage, including wall paintings of the Four Seasons n the lobby and the chandeliers, as well as a lovely Japanese Garden on the Garden level directly above the lobby, but this makes sense since the hotel is in the vibrant Little Tokyo area of Downtown LA.
The lobby has been opened up to try and create a more informal atmosphere where people can relax and work, although with the high ceiling it feels a little odd.
There are several shops, including an art gallery and a gift shop, although some of these have been closed pending further renovation and a new restaurant, which will open in April 2014.
WHERE IS IT?
In Downtown LA, in Little Tokyo, a ten-minute walk from attractions such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The drive to and from Los Angeles International Airport is traffic-dependent, but mid-afternoon with light traffic took 30 minutes.
Downtown has been much improved in recent years both in terms of attractions such as the Grand Market on Broadway and safety, and I had no problem walking around at night. There is valet parking and access to the airport.
All 434 rooms are non-smoking, and although a few have terraces you are asked not to smoke on them.
Rooms run right the way up to the 23rd floor with Hilton HHonors rooms on floors 12 and 21. There is no executive lounge.
Entry levels rooms are 30 sqm, and all rooms have large 42-inch flat screen TVs and complimentary wifi, with a "premier" option of 6MB download/3MB upload connection speeds, although this costs $9.95 per 24 hours per device. I used the complimentary wifi and this was fine.
In addition, Gold and Diamond members of HHonors get the higher speed for free. Printing of boarding passes in the business centre on the lobby level is easily completed using the free wifi, and the hotel is still very much focused on business travellers, despite being a little way away from the main financial district of Downtown.
All rooms have upgraded bathrooms with large walk-in showers and Crabtree and Evelyn amenity products, fridges (rather than mini-bars) and tea and coffee making facilities. Soundproofing is good and this end of Downtown seems quieter than further up the hill and is much quieter than Broadway or around the Macys Centre.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
The lobby bar shows sports on giant screens but is quite an exposed space – in full view of the check-in area.
Azalea is where a buffet breakfast is served by cheerful and helpful staff, but this is only a very small space and is a stand-in for the all-day dining restaurant called Justice (after the Court Buildings and Police Station adjacent to the hotel) which will open in April 2014.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The hotel has lots of smaller meeting spaces on the first floor, accessed by elevator or the sweeping staircase to the right as you enter. There is a business centre on the lobby level, as well as a Starbucks.
There is a good-sized fitness centre on the mezzanine floor, open 24 hours via your room key card. The small gardens on the ground floor (effectively on the roof of the lobby level) are worth visiting.
Very good. The hotel's huge renovation is nearing completion and the rooms are large, comfortable and pretty much every business service has been thought of.
It's the staff who make it particularly good though — every encounter was a pleasure, they were genuinely helpful, could answer every query, and seemed to have time for everyone, despite the hotel being busy.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 434, ranging from King to Queen doubles and twins up to King Suites
- HIGHLIGHTS The location is excellent for both the sights of Downtown and walking along Broadway or simply exploring Little Japan. The free wifi seems to work at sufficient speed without buying the upgraded version
- PRICE Internet prices for a flexible midweek stay in a King room were $247 including all taxes
- CONTACT Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown, 120 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90012; www.doubletree.com, call 0870 590 9090