Tried & Tested

The Standard Downtown, LA

1 Dec 2004 by business traveller

What's it like? Former headquarters of a family oil company, the hotel is filled with leftover corporate symbols such as imposing escalators and world-time wall clocks, thrown together with vibrating water beds, table football and flashing neon art. Though a magnet for teenage fashion victims, there was an equal number of business suits as tracksuits checking in on my visit. Waiting to be allocated a room took a while as staff tend to show guests where hotel facilities are, rather than just explain them. But when a hotel receptionist notices you have a laptop and offers you a connection cable without being asked, you are quick to forgive a little waiting time.

Where is it? Downtown, between Bunker Hill and the Staples Center.

Room facilities: A no fuss, minimalist look prevails throughout the rooms, and room categories such as deluxe and superior are replaced with names like Cheap, Gigantic, Humongous and Wow! Beds are banned; instead, guests sleep on mattresses on the floor (perfect for those who like to roll out of bed). My 710sq ft Wow! room had a bathtub built for four and an open-plan shower large enough to hose down the entire LA Lakers basketball team. But it's not just the wet space that's impressive. All rooms have 14ft desks, free internet access, two phones (one cordless), CD player, DVD player and interactive TV.
With so much space, most guests have breakfast in their rooms and the choice is endless, from burgers and fries to croissants and coffee. The prices are reasonable too. Doughnuts and coffee cost just $2 while Eggs Benedict is $10. I filled in my 8am breakfast slip before bed, stuck it on my door and the food arrived promptly the next morning (I swear the waitress was waiting outside the door).

Restaurants and bars: The restaurant, with an outdoor patio and art deco-inspired furniture, offers snacks, meals and cocktails around the clock, served by waitresses wearing five-mile smiles teamed with short aprons and knee-high boots. On the roof, the hip factor is turned up a notch or two ? especially in the evenings. Guests at the open-air bar spread out around the pool, sitting on low sofas or cosying down in one of the intimate pods (beware of the vibrating water beds). When I visited, a few brave businessmen were putting some moves together on the Twister-themed dance floor but this is not compulsory. During the day, the atmosphere is less intense and many guests go up with their laptops to enjoy the sunshine and the surprisingly clean air.

Business Centre? No, but one is planned along with a large area of meeting space, lobby bar and spa ? all next year. Until then, free internet access in the rooms and a wifi-enabled pool area and lobby with enough seating for a small conference are more than adequate.

Verdict and prices: Staying on business doesn't have to be dull, and when the rooms are large enough to hold a party in and the service is as exceptional as the decor, stuffy corporate chains may have a bit of catching up to do. Rates start at $99 for a Cheap room.

Contact: 550 South Flower Street, LA, 0071, tel 213 892 8080, www.standardhotel.com

Lauren Custance

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