Tried & Tested

Hotel review: Conrad Los Angeles

26 Sep 2023 by Hannah Brandler
Conrad Los Angeles San Laurel terrace (provided by Tin Man Communications)

Background

The 28-storey, 305-room hotel opened in July 2022, housed in the multi-use The Grand LA building in downtown Los Angeles, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. This marked the debut of the Conrad Hotels & Resorts brand in California, and is part of the Hilton group.

Where is it?

On South Grand Avenue, in the epicentre of downtown LA’s cultural scene. Guests are hardly short of attractions in the vicinity, with the striking Walt Disney Concert Hall opposite, while the street is also home to The Broad Museum of Contemporary Art and The Colburn School of Music.

You enter via a covered walkway, complete with a lush living wall, and a set of lifts takes you to the tenth-floor lobby. The street entrance is known as Level 4, which seems a bit confusing, and a valet parking area is located on level 3 (essentially the lower-ground area). During my visit in September the complex did not yet have retail areas on Level 4, with plans for shops and restaurants to move in over the course of the next year.

On the local side, I was struck by the poverty in downtown LA during my visit and reached out to the hotel to find out if it was working with any local charities or community outreach programmes. I’m told that the hotel works with FoodCycle LA, with any unused food or products packaged up in meal form and delivered to neighbouring homes requiring these resources.

Conrad Los Angeles lobby (provided by Tin Man Communications)

What's it like?

Gehry’s contemporary tetris-like exterior, with a uniform geometric facade, is in keeping with the modern buildings in the vicinity but gives no hint of the warm, California-meets-Mediterranean interiors by Tara Bernerd & Partners.

As such, you are pleasantly surprised when you reach the tenth floor lobby and are met by woven fabrics, earthy colour palettes, oak flooring and elegant Ceppo di Gre stone, while memorable features include a beautiful bar crafted from molten lava. High ceilings combined with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, lush pot plants and a wraparound terrace create an indoor-outdoor feel throughout the open-plan lobby, and curved features such as an undulating wooden ceiling tie in with the concert hall opposite and mountains beyond.

Suffice to say I am a big fan of the interiors, which are equally comfortable and inviting, with various seating areas – from comfy sofas to patterned stools and armchairs – populated with people on their laptops or enjoying a drink with friends or fellow guests.

Complementing the design is a collection of oeuvres by local artists, though the only thing missing here is information or a self-guided tour for guests as I was keen to find out more about each piece during my visit.

To reach the guest room floors there is a separate bank of lifts, beside which is a rooftop which links the lobby with restaurant Agua Viva (more on this later) and the rooftop pool deck (accessible by keycard). There is also a small lawn here, used for events, featuring a modern twisted sculpture by Jon Krawczyk, which reflects the building in various warped ways.

On the logistics side, check-in is from 3pm and checkout at 12pm, though Hilton Honors guests can request a complimentary late checkout. Opposite the reception is a helpful concierge, who provided useful information on routes to follow in the city and can also provide bookings for local restaurants and attractions.

A daily destination fee, which is part of the room rate, includes wifi access and complimentary house car use (within 2 miles of the property) – plus US$30 breakfast credit for Hilton Honors guests.

Guest room Conrad Los Angeles (image: Hannah Brandler)

Rooms

All rooms measure 36 sqm but vary in terms of views, and the hotel also has a range of suites including huge presidential accommodations with private terraces. All include an organic, earthy colour scheme, natural linen walls, pale oak floors and fantastic floor-to-ceiling windows with views varying from cityscape to the pool/courtyard and Grand Avenue.

Much like the public spaces, the room is open-plan with a sleek bathroom which can either open into the main space thanks to a window beside the sink or you can protect your modesty with a black mirror-esque sliding door.

The main space features a supremely soft king bed and a stylish windowside L-shaped sofa and coffee table, which doubled as a brilliant desk for work purposes and a comfortable spot for a jet lag-induced nap. The bathroom has a darker colour palette to the rest of the room, and is complete with separate cubicles for the toilet and a gorgeous walk-in shower with a soothing rain shower, which I could have spent hours under, and a hand-held shower option.

Guest room Conrad Los Angeles (image: Hannah Brandler)

My room provided jaw-dropping and perfectly framed views of the concert hall. As night fell, I watched as the sun set behind the curves and corners of the concert hall, before it disappeared behind the San Gabriel mountains beyond. The following night I instead focused on dusk’s effect on the interiors, with golden hour casting dappled light and shadows across the textured oak panelled wall on one side of the room. Should neither of these neutral lighting styles suit you, there are several other options on offer – bright, dim, night light, lamps and bed light – via a panel by the front door and beside the bed.

Conrad Los Angeles (image: Hannah Brandler)

The design is beautiful and calming while also being very practical – something that’s often hard to master. For instance, the touchscreen high-tech panel mentioned above is easy to use, with extra buttons for privacy, housekeeping and operating the blinds from the comfort of your bed. There are plug and USB sockets throughout the room, a large safe in the draw and guests can also use the Hilton Honors app for various services – from a digital key to messaging the team and requesting a ride with Lyft. It’s also possible to control the large TV facing the bed from your phone via Bluetooth, with streaming capabilities incorporated.

When I returned to my room each evening, the blinds had been drawn, the lights dimmed and the TV set to a peaceful night-time soundtrack, easing me into sleep mode.

Further amenities include minibars with local products, complimentary canned water which is regularly replenished, a Nespresso machine, robes and slippers, a shoe shining kit and soothing large-size Byredo Mojave Ghost toiletries.

The rooms are well soundproofed from the rest of the property, though there is traffic noise from the roads but this didn’t bother me.

Conrad Los Angeles San Laurel terrace (provided by Tin Man Communications)

Food and drink

Filling its beautiful, airy public spaces are delicious dining venues overseen by award-winning Spanish chef José Andrés. San Laurel on the 10th floor is open for breakfast and dinner with menus that marry Spanish cuisine with produce from the region’s farmers’ markets, and are designed for sharing – though I enjoyed my experience as a solo diner too.

I was very impressed with this venue. Hotels often label their F&B venues “destination restaurants” but this one lives up to this notion, and is well worth visiting regardless of whether you’re staying at the hotel. Staff are kind, knowledgeable about the dishes, and offer excellent recommendations even beyond the menus – my waiter Daniel at breakfast offered great suggestions for my day of exploring ahead.

San Laurel dinner at Conrad Los Angeles (image: Hannah Brandler)

Highlights from my visit were the ceviche-style Hiramasa Crudo, served with tigre de leche, cucumber caviar, pickled blueberries, fresno chilli, herb oil and basil (US$27), and the perfectly crisp pan-fried sea bass with an accompaniment of mojo verde and rojo (US$42), which transported me to the shores of Spain. All of the dishes are served in artistic tableware, with my light-as-air pistachio sponge pudding with strawberries and a mascarpone sorbet presented in a beautiful wooden bowl.

The breakfast menu is also à la carte, with a large focus on eggs of various kinds – from Spanish-style fried eggs with jamón Ibérico to omelettes with various filling options and eggs Benedict. I had an excellent omelette filled with Manchego and wild mushroom ragu, served with a salad or paprika-spiced potatoes (US$24).

San Laurel breakfast at Conrad Los Angeles (image: Hannah Brandler)

The restaurant has a similar warm design to the rest of the property, with glass doors opening onto a terrace overlooking the Walt Disney concert hall, and there’s a lovely buzz in the evening – if you would rather dine inside then opt for a corner round table for  views of the entire restaurant, including the bottle-stacked bar.

Across from San Laurel via a sun-drenched walkway is the Mediterranean beachclub-like Agua Viva, a bar and restaurant open 11am-11pm, with cosy firepit areas, and views overlooking the mountains. Popular here is the weekend brunch menu, accompanied by DJ sets, while the à la carte focuses on seafood specialties with Latin American and Asian touches – Peruvian scallops with yuzu, Hamachi Tiradito and “build your own” sushi handrolls.

There’s also poolside dining available, and the beautiful Beaudry Room beside the lobby for cocktails and bites.

Conrad Los Angeles Agua Viva (provided by Tin Man Communications)

Meetings

There is 1,220 sqm of indoor and outdoor event space, including two ballrooms and 13 meeting rooms, and a small rooftop terrace where events can take place.

Leisure

The hotel has a spa on the ninth floor with seven treatment rooms, an infrared sauna as well as private recovery cabins. I tested out the latter as the sessions are aimed at business travellers, using NuCalm Recharge meditation to aid with stress and improve quality of sleep.

In short, you lie on a warm infrared mat, complete with an eye mask, noise-cancelling headphones with a soothing meditation soundtrack and wear a sticker on your wrist which supposedly sends electromagnetic signals to your brain to calm you down. I was sceptical about the sticker but I did find the experience calming, especially as it distracted me from deadlines. You also wear compression trousers which increase circulation, lymphatic flow, reduce swelling and revive muscles – an excellent idea after a long-haul flight.

The benefit with these cabins is that it’s quick and simple – business travellers can book a session between meetings as there’s no need to get changed or shower – and I was pleased to see a spa offer something different to a conventional massage or facial. You’re left to your own devices once hooked up to the machines and it just allows you to take a breather for an hour.

The eighth floor, meanwhile, has a large fitness centre with great equipment, and there are complimentary workouts every Saturday at 9am and sunrise yoga at 8am on the event lawn. For those that want to swim, as mentioned there is a 1,486 sqm deck with a private pool overlooking the city.

Conrad Los Angeles pool (provided by Tin Man Communications)

Verdict

Conrad Los Angeles is a great addition to Downtown LA, offering a warm Mediterranean design matched by excellent service and impressive dining destinations.

Best for

Beautiful design in the heart of the city’s arts and cultural centre

Don’t miss

A Spanish feast on the terrace of San Laurel, complete with Southern California sunshine

Price

Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in December start from US$535 for a Deluxe room including daily destination fee (US$30 per night)

Contact

100 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90012; +1 213 349 8585; hilton.com

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