February 12, 2017
Want to be near the Pacific in a terrific city? San Francisco can do that for you.
This visit included a bug free stay at the Buchanan Hotel in Japantown where Emily G and her excellent co-workers made us feel especially welcome. Here’s how.
First, the giant tetris game that is specific hotel room request came out in our favor and we secured 416 (the best room in the property with lots of windows and a great bathroom).
Second, yellow roses!
Third, a mystery gift…
Arrival was delightful.
416 has a spacious bathroom with a glass shower. No plastic showers!!
A little rain never hurt anything. Especially in drought stricken California. The fact that the weather was perfect for the weekend was, well, perfect.
With the expert help of Jacob, Saturday’s itenerary was outstanding.
Brunch at Foreign Cinema was first. We used the show up at 10:45 and walk right in at 11 hack.
Followed by a quick last minute stint at the Farmer’s Market
And a trip to Lands End.
Cocktail hour was spent at the always fantastic Smuggler’s Cove for tiki, rum, and conversation. A meeting of the secret book club was held.
Dinner was at The Progress. Super fantastic, rollicking fun time. And the food was good too!
Sunday should start with a great brunch, say at the Hillside Supper Club.
And then a trip to Napa on a gorgeous day! Domaine Carneros is a great target, especially if you have club privileges.
One of my favorite wines in the world is Old Hill from Ravenswood.
Pizza evening (due to a 2 hour wait at the sushi place we targetted) was followed by a visit to the delightful Churchhill bar. This is a low key almost dive like neighborhood place with an outstanding collection of serious booze.
In other San Francisco fun NPS gladly notes the following establishments:
lunch (every day) at cafe claude
ramen in Japantown at Waraku
fun and games with superb cocktails at Forgery
world class brunch at Plow
jacques incredible cocktails in a relaxed and gorgeous room at Wildhawk
outstanding food at rich table
About which these twitterz:
Thursday madness was particularly fun this iteration.
Five showerheads with a wink and a nod for the Buchanan where everything went as planned.
January 24, 2017
Maybe you get a pass on the plastic shower thing if you are an historical property and you have peepholes like this??
Of course, we’ve been here before, so we know which end is up and exactly why this property rocks. This time we made double sure to get the right room with an incredible (yuge?) view of the Pacific—especially after our Kimpton debacle last week). 504 is sweet!
And it is on the proper side of the building as well.
So what to expect? A very spacious suite with reasonable furnishings only slightly dated. Plenty of room to work (and to entertain, as it turns out). A large bathroom with the exact wrong kind of shower. Creaky net. Busted speakers. Buy your own flowers. But the view. And the location. And the view.
Anyway, did we have fun in Santa Monica? Sure. We started off in LA at the wine thing.
Breakfast crepe was delicious.
Then we visited McCabe’s Guitar Shop (owned by our very own peeps). if you are a music person, just visit, play, hang out, learn. There are ghosts.
Which made us want stuff like this beauty of a guitar. Hurry up and buy it, or I will.
And we had a delicious dinner up the canyon at the very old school and very very good Saddle Peak Lodge. The highlight of the night was talking to Bob while eating elk. Bob is just bob. Maybe one day we’ll tell you. Or maybe not. Talk to Bob you lucky bastard.
Anyway, fütbol in the room on the rainiest Sunday in maybe 8 years in Santa Monica. Mud slides, rocks that closed roads, leaky roofs that (who knew) are supposed to keep water out?! And all of the fütbol teams that we liked were beat. Kind of like the election. At least there was beer and a smidge of bourbon.
Followed by Bourne on OK glass with super bad speakers. Dear hotels, why is it that home cinema situations even among those who mostly don’t give a shit are 10 years ahead of you? No, really. Why? One decade ahead.
Which catches us on up to Monday. Work and LACMA.
About which more here.
Then dinner at the very not bad Manchego, where they have yet to discover both Priorat and twitter.
Four showerheads and a wish for glass showers and speakers that are not blown.
January 22, 2017
New friends, great wine, excellent food, great conversation—donnie, you sure know how to do it!
We convened slightly off the beaten path on a flooded, rainy day at Officine Brera in LA.
Everyone brought a bottle to contribute and describe. Probably the most interesting was a 17 year old bottle from China.
The food was just as good as the wine.
Delightful. Lets do it again.
January 12, 2017
If the Lorien sounds familiar to you, dear reader, that’s because we stayed here just a few short weeks ago in a last minute mad dash to the Kimpton inner circle finish line. We made it across by the skin of our teeth! But we also got a great meal in old town as a fabulous side effect. Read all about that here.
We’re back, this time in the city on a keynote talk gig. Of course the conference is being held at some awful Hilton or other where NPS would not be caught dead staying. So Kimpton it is!
This time we’re in room(s) 611 and 615. I am here first for an evening and then the rest of the posse comes later. Plenty of room in this set of rooms! And a balcony to boot, which on a 68 degree day in January is awesome.
Sadly, the weather promises to turn to snow by Saturday morning. We might even get stuck here in the mosquito!
The bedroom is tucked away in the corner, but is very nice with doors that open to the outside. It is basically the penthouse corner of the 6th floor.
With all of the adjoining rooms, we need a huge shower to fit everyone. Fortunately, that’s all set.
After settling in, it was time for a drink in the great cocktail bar downstairs with Steph Vogel. NPS recommends highly the practice of having a drink with the big boss. Inner circle karma all around as barman Phil Clark and chef Wiedmaier made cocktail hour special.
The Apples to Apples
1.5 oz appleton VX rum
1 oz laird’s apple brandy
.5 oz cynar
.5 oz demerara syrup
4 dashes bittermen’s tiki bitters
Shake. Serve on large rocks in a whiskey glass.
After driving off for dinner with an actual sibling, we returned for a midnight snack. The charcuterie plate was remarkable.
Wine, notes, meat, cheese, dessert, sparking water? What more is there in an amenity. Thanks you guys.
Five showerheads for the Lorien. Can’t wait to see the style evolve at this hotel. We’ll be back as often as we can.
December 29, 2016
You know that quandry where you’re just below the threshold for Inner Circle status by one night? That. Somehow it happens every year.
Fortunately, NPS can always make the best of it by visiting Steph Vogel and finding out what he is up to. A little backstory, Steph has run a number of DC-area Kimpton properties, lifting them every time up into excellence: the Palomar, the George, and the Donovan. Now it’s time for the Lorien.
The Lorien’s main problem is competition from the very fabulous Hotel Monaco just down the street (and much closer to the water). The Monaco seems to have sucked up all of the great design resources, leaving the Lorien marooned in the dreamscape ’90s. That is all starting to change now that Steph is in charge.
For example, the bar and restaurant are already going places. Once a scary exclusively white tablecloth space is now a bar buzzing with life and engaged with the street (not to mention soaked in cocktail excellence). Phil Clark runs a very nice bar.
Just take a look at the glassware. This is top shelf.
The amenity deposited for NPS in 619 highlighted both the bar and the kitchen to great effect. Just gorgeous, very welcoming, and kind.
Watching the rooms transform from their current stark, almost bland design to something better will be fun. NPS money says that in six months this property will be the hottest ticket in town.
The shower, we are happy to report, is glass shower excellence (and huge). NPS could shoot a movie in there!
And off the bedroom and sitting room both, is a balcony overlooking Alexandria. Can’t wait to come back and see what that is like in the summer.
Our visit was punctuated by a drink with Phil and Steph at the bar. And then it was off to the always fabulous Restaurant Eve for dinner. Eve did not disappoint. The five course tasting meal was absolutely delicious and worth every penny (that’s lots of pennies for those counting). Three hours of laughter, great flavors, and fun was just what the doctor ordered after this year.
We returned for a nightcap of Liberty Punch.
Four showerheads and massive velocity towards five for the Lorien. Let the transformation begin.
Great food. Great drinks. Great hospitality. 2016, we bid you adieu.