Fifteen years ago, I wouldn't have walked alone at the corner of Hollywood & Highland in L.A. But it's now the center of tourist's Hollywood, spiffed and spruced up ever since the Oscars moved to the Kodak Theatre in 2002. I'd rather duck around camera-toting tourists rather than knife-wielding drug addicts.
In honor of the Academy Awards this Sunday, I wanted to get a closer look at the 637-room, 33-suite Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa, host to the Governor's Ball. I was never that jazzed about the exterior but I left highly impressed with the rooms and Oscar aura. The hotel is less than ten years old, built during the renaissance of Hollywood (haha), so it feels very new.
The lobby is colorful and super modern with lots of potted green plants throughout. The grand staircase leads up to the meeting rooms and out to the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex. You're never more than five minutes away from Sephora, Gap, or Mrs. Fields in case you need mascara, a hoodie or a cookie.
What I really liked were the rooms, and their views of the Hollywood Hills and Hollywood sign. Nothing out of the ordinary but they are comfortable and I loved the bamboo plants on the desks. But the stunning views of the hills are what make these rooms stand out. Rooms with hills views cost just a bit more (in $25 range) and are absolutely worth it. Other rooms offer views of downtown L.A. and Hollywood.
The 3,500 square-foot Panorama Suite, which has seen the likes of Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet, and a Britney Spears video shoot as guests, literally made my jaw drop. The views of the dream factory that is Los Angeles sprawling below made me wish I could be an A-list actress for a day so I could own the whole city. The suite used to be the hotel's rooftop restaurant but is now sought after for events, photo shoots, and those star stays.
The hotel has been host to a number of film productions and even has its own helipad (backdrop for a recent Jonas Bros. video), which helps the stars get in and out of the hotel without having to traipse through the lobby (the horror!).
The pool area is classic L.A., with cabanas ready for days of reading magazines and cold drinks, overlooking the Hollywood & Highland complex.
The hotel is great for large groups, families, and those visiting L.A. for the first time. I'd tell jet-setting travelers looking for a smaller, boutique experience to look elsewhere. If you want to be as close to the Academy Awards action as possible, there's no better place.
One last photo--this is the hallway that attaches the hotel to the Kodak Theatre. Oscar winners walk through here on their way to the flashbulbs and press junkets asking them how they feel and what they're wearing. I know Colin Firth will be walking this very hallway on Sunday.