California Road Trip

California Road Trip

Looking for the road trip of a lifetime? Los Angeles, to buy lotrisone cream San Diego, to Las Vegas, to San Francisco, to Napa Valley, to Santa Monica, and back to Los Angeles is the one we would suggest after taking this dream trip this Summer ’16. Here are our to-do’s, and to-don’t’s!

California

First things first, plan when you are going to be in San Diego. Text The Noble Experiment: (619) 888-4713 to allow access to a fantastic hidden gem, secret bar. Nowadays you can also book online, but that’s not so much fun, when we visit in June this year, it was only accessible by text. FUN.

Los Angeles 

California

Where to stay?

We stayed at the Mondrian hotel, the ‘coolest’ hotel in LA. With an incredible outside pool, and us visiting in the Summer, it was lovely to sit outside and enjoy cocktails in the California sunshine. The hotel really was ‘cool’, we can’t argue with this, every guest was either an off-duty model, a sports star in a snap-back cap, or a celebrity, none of which we are. We hate to sound old before our time, but unless you were from the cast of Entourage, or pretending to be (fake it until you make it!), the service wasn’t up to scratch for the money spent to stay. We found ourselves being the last to be served because a celebrity was on the premises one too many times. Paying for Wifi as an additional charge in an already expensive hotel room, really not ‘cool’.

Our suggestion would be to find a different hotel, and just visit the Mondrian for a pool day / cocktails in the evening. The breakfast is also a MUST, the Lobster Benedict is life-changing.

California

Disappointingly both the Morgans Hotel Group hotels on this trip were below expectation on service (see San Fran for the Clift).

On our last leg of the trip we stayed at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel who were much more accommodating.

Things to do

  • We went to Barry’s Bootcamp because we’re a little bit crazy.It’s intense. A mix of hardcore cardio and weights / circuits, but makes you feel much less guilty for eating your way around America for the next two weeks.
  • Hiking up the Hollywood sign in an absolute must! We’re not sure we climbed to the best spot, so we will leave you to research this, but we started at the Griffith Observatory as many people do. A bucket list moment.
  • The pink wings. Essential for an Instagram shot! On Melrose Avenue, not far from Paul Smith.
  • We thought the Hollywood Stars were totally overrated, way too touristy. Hollywood is actually quite grubby. FYI. We wish someone had warned us! Not all glitzy and glam as we had expected.

California

Where to eat?

  • The Ivy, it’s a must for breakfast, lunch or dinner – quirky eccentric venue, and delicious food. We could have stayed there through breakfast, lunch and dinner!
  • You obviously have to try an In-N-Out burger, totally disgusting but worth every bite. Ask for the ‘Animal Style’ which is on a secret / not so secret menu. It’s insane.
  • Breakfast at The Beverly Hills Hotel, Polo Lounge we thoroughly enjoyed, and you have to visit the Beverly Hills Hotel just to tick it off the list!

California

San Diego

California

One of our favourites of the trip! On the drive from LA to San Diego (in a Mustang, not too cliche at all) make sure you visit La Jolla Cove to see the seals! *we feel like they were sea lions, they were huge!! They live at the Cove, and you can literally get so close to them (not too close, they aren’t overly friendly, and be kind!), but it’s an amazing experience. La Jolla is also adorable, cute eateries, and little clothes boutiques. Lovely place to spend a couple of hours to breakup the drive.
California

Where to stay?

L’Auberge del Mar is such a cute little boutique hotel in a small town outside of San Diego. Not too much hustle and bustle. Private and luxury, yet super friendly and homely. The hotel were nothing but welcoming from the moment we arrived. It is actually where our Founder got engaged on this trip!

California

Things to do, and where to eat?

We found exploring San Diego in the day was enough, walking along the waterfront and through the city. We enjoyed a lovely evening at The Noble Experiment we mentioned, with lots of other bars to hop around in the area. The food at Neighborhood was good too (same venue as The Noble Experiment).

Las Vegas

Where to stay?

We stayed at The Venetian for two nights (FYI, two nights is too long in Vegas on such a tight trip! Hindsight, we wish we had done one night in Vegas, and enjoyed two nights in Napa Valley). Fantastic for a girls trip, don’t get us wrong, but when with the other half, wine tours in the mountains wins over 3 hours of Black Jack and having no idea what time of the day it is.

The Venetian is a grand hotel, definitely a must-see, and the rooms were lovely. The hotel also features a Mall with Gondola boats (obviously, it’s Vegas). Float beneath bridges, beside cafes, under balconies and through the vibrant Venetian streetscape as your singing gondolier sweeps you down the Grand Canal inside (yes, inside) the hotel.

Things to do

  • A Show is a must! We went to O by Cirque du Soleil which was incredible. They perform in water, and it’s breathtaking. Try to get seats as close to the front as possible.
  • Gambling, obviously. We mostly enjoyed the complimentary Prosecco while our man played the cards, praying he would win enough (and drink enough!) to take a trip to Valentino conveniently placed next to the slot machines (didn’t happen).
  • If you like RnB, Drai’s nightclub is the club for you. The daytime pool party is also a must! They often have celebrities performing, Kendrick Lamar, Trey Songz, 2 Chainz. Right up our street! We unfortunately went over EDM weekend. We have no idea what EDM is, but it’s not good. Music with no words. Make sure you research before you go.
  • OR Marquee @ Cosmopolitan, Wet Republic @ MGM Grand – both come highly recommended

California

California

Where to eat?

Our favourite restaurant in Vegas was Beauty & Essex (our Founder being from Essex, it’s the perfect fit!). It looks like an old fashioned pawn shop, but has a small door at the back which walks you into a luxurious looking bar, and restaurant. Fantastic, fun, and delicious! We enjoyed paprika spiced salmon, and couldn’t recommend it more.

San Francisco

A little note on San Fran, again, we wish someone had warned us – it has a serious homeless situation, it can actually be quite scary in places, so keep your wits about you. Going alone as a female, certain areas we would suggest you completely avoid. The hotels can advise where is safe, and where is not.

Where to stay?

We won’t harp on too much, but again, an additional charge for Wifi in an already expensive hotel room – we’re not about that life (perhaps spoilt by how fantastic the service is in Dubai hotels?), but we stayed at the Clift and didn’t think it was worth the cost.

California

Things to do

  • We hired bikes and cycled from San Fran city to the Golden Gate Bridge, this was hilarious, and great for working off the food we we’re eating on our tour around California! You must have a photo with the Golden Gate Bridge, again a bucket list moment.
  • You have to visit the wonky street! Lombard street in the Sat Nav. It’s a must-see, and drive! We must have driven it twice!
  • Coffee and shopping in Union Square.

Where to eat?

  • We enjoyed a lovely dinner at The Slanted Door, a modern Vietnamese on the waterfront. It was packed, so make sure you book in advance. Open Table is fantastic for booking all your restaurants for the trip.
  • Also visit the Foreign Cinema for delicious food, and a great vibe. The area is a little scary, but once inside, it’s a magical venue with fairy lights, and vintage film screenings.
  • Lots of adorable breakfast spots. Dottie’s comes highly recommended. We went to The Grove which was lovely.
  • Also try to visit Alcatraz – our Founders Fiance was in-charge of booking ONE thing, and he didn’t, so we didn’t get to go, but next time!

California

Where to drink?

We have a long list of recommended bars:

Devil’s Acre (North Beach) / Bourbon & Branch (Union Sq./Tenderloin) /  Rye (Union Sq./Tenderloin) / 620 Jones (has a rooftop if its nice out!) (Union Sq./Tenderloin) / Lolinda (Mission) / Union Larder Wine Bar (Russian Hill) / Barrel Room (Financial District) (has a wine bar and a speakeasy) /  Tonga Room (Nob Hill)- Fun tiki bar / Crissie Fields under the bridge / Chestnut Grove

Napa Valley

California

Where to stay?

The most incredible hotel of our trip, and we only stayed one night (devo’d), but it was also the most expensive hotel of our trip. Honestly, worth every single penny. Meadowood in Napa Valley was just amazing. We stayed in boutique tree house chalets up in the mountains surrounded by green (a million miles away from our day to day in Dubai). It was calm, green (did we mention how green it was!), green, and peaceful. We even saw a deer amble past us. Exclusive yet approachable, the staff were nothing but fantastic.

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Things to do

The hotel organised our wine tour, we went to two different vine yards in an afternoon, and had the best time at both! Our favourite was Paraduxx, the staff had brilliant banter, we could have stayed all day! You are in safe hands following the hotels recommendations. We drank far too much, and had far too much fun! A fantastic experience, a real highlight to the holiday, we couldn’t advise it more!. Cheers!

East Coast Drive 

California

We then embarked on our East Coast Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from Napa Valley to Santa Monica via The Big Sur which is just breathtaking (if not utterly terrifying if your fiance drives like ours does!). The roads are really close to the edge of the crashing waves, but overlook this, and the views are incredible. We stopped at Nepenthe at Big Sur and the views were fantastic! We also accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up in the mountains, subsequently on an army base with a shooting range – hilarious in hindsight, not funny at the time. Hated husband to be. Avoid Nacimiento Fergusson Rd (as seen on a dangerous roads website), best tip of this whole piece. Unless you love near death experiences and / or mountains, then knock yourself out!

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Santa Monica

Where to stay?

Shangri-La at the ocean, which was harmless! A boutique style hotel on the seafront.

Things to do?

Visit Santa Monica beach & pier as a must-do whilst in the area.

Where to eat?

Nobu in Malibu is a must! Nobu is always a favourite, but this one is on the waterfront so that little bit more special, and sitting next to Robin Thicke, Kris Jenner, Scott Disick, and Tommy Hilfiger, it’s clearly the place to be!

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& back to Los Angeles!

Work with Gillian the Travel Counsellor to create the perfect Californian road trip. Gillian helped us along the way, and we wouldn’t have found L’Auberge del Mar or Meadowood without her! Our two favourites.

Imagery credits: Instagram.com/FrankieHales, http://weddbook.com/, MyMalibuBeach.com

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