Downtown L.A. in the Thick of Things

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urban stays Clients might share elevator time with Prince or Lady Gaga during a busy weekend at the JW Marriott or The Ritz-Carlton, but this is where they’ll want to stay if they want to explore Downtown. The sister properties, although each very much their own, share a few floors and a sense of subdued, relaxed luxury that goes well with the new face of Downtown. As convenient and business-friendly as both hotels are, they do relaxation and entertainment superbly well—guests instantly forget that they’re staying in a downtown area. Even the state-of-the-art meeting rooms, especially the adorable petite ones that look out to L.A. LIVE, have such a relaxing feel to them that you almost want to cancel spa time and do business instead. Almost.

The California-kissed feel of the large, light-filled rooms at the JW Marriott beg for more than a little down time—maybe a quiet read of your just-delivered newspaper on a delicious scoop chair with a priceless view of the city. It’s easy to see why so many celebs choose to stay here—the rooms exude warmth. Ion, the JW’s rooftop pool and bar on the fourth floor, calls for a swim with a skyline view and a nap, maybe at a private couple’s lounge. Guests of the JW Marriott also have access to The Ritz-Carlton’s gorgeous spa—8,000 sq. ft. of white opulence with gold touches that welcomes visitors with champagne and genuine warmth. Our recommendation: an A-plus Ageless Beauty facial from Stephanie. Accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton feature more classical decor yet feel no less gratifying. Those who appreciate a luxurious bath area will love the soaking tub and rain shower combo—done separately and sitting side by side—and the mirror TV to keep an eye on favorite shows while getting ready for a day out.

As exciting as the city’s offerings are around these hotels, both have their own sensational dining options. The JW Marriott has the urban-cool Mixing Room and glance Wine Bar for quick noshes and beautifully crafted cocktails before or after a memorable dinner at LA Market. This restaurant is the brainchild of “Rock ‘n Roll Chef” Kerry Simon, he of Junk Food Platter fame—homemade recreations of childhood faves like Snoballs, Rice Krispies treats other outrageous and irresistible edibles. But before dessert rolls around, there’s brick organic chicken, sushi pizza and other standouts from Simon and Chef de Cuisine Nona Sivley, the season eight winner of “Hell’s Kitchen.” At The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfgang Puck’s WP24 serves a Peking-style roasted duckling with all the traditional trimmings that is absurdly succulent. Rates start at $189 at the JW Marriott and $299 at The Ritz-Carlton.