Charming. It’s a word tourists don’t often associate with Los Angeles. L.A. is instead the chateau-esque houses of Beverly Hills or the glass and steel boxes and disks above West Hollywood. The city’s best known hotels fall into similar camps: either old Hollywood glamour like that of the Sunset Tower or The Beverly Hills Hotel, or sleek and modern like the Andaz or the Standard. But a new hotel, 850 SVB, from Jeff Klein, the owner of the aforementioned Sunset Tower, hopes to tap into that “charm” gap in the market.
Perched on San Vicente Boulevard on the western edge of West Hollywood and opposite Klein’s exclusive new members-only establishment The San Vicente Bungalows, 850 SVB is essentially a traditional California shingle bungalow transformed into a boutique hotel via a multistory pop-up in the back.
The hotel was opened last fall, and we recently stayed there courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the boutique-hotel-booking service, for our twice-a-month feature on exciting new hotels, The New Room with a View.
Upon entering the hotel, you see immediately that things are different here. The lobby and its staff are all about the essentials. Like a lot of new hotels, 850 SVB has deleted or streamlined many of the frills one may be expecting. No hovering bellman. You refill your room’s water bottle in the common living room, where breakfast is also a serve-yourself situation. However, unlike many hotels peddling austerity chic, this one convinces you that it’s less bent on cost cutting and more about creating a laid-back vibe. Best of all, it gave me a genuine sense of privacy: a state of being that I crave more and more these days. I was left alone, in a beautiful room, in a great part of a great city.
The 23 rooms designed by Rita Konig with their steel-frame windows and (in tbe cass of my room) seaweed-wallpaper walls are something you’d imagine in a chic friend’s Los Feliz house. The warm room decor is enhanced by the hallways, which are a dark, somber affair, thus creating a sort of compression/expansion effect favored by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Luis Barragan.
However, the real joy of the room was the bed. I know, I know, people’s tastes in mattresses are all over the place, but I’ll say it anyway: This was one of the most comfortable I have slept on.
For those looking to do the very un-L.A. thing and explore the area by foot, the hotel is in a fantastic location, close and roughly equidistant from the restaurants, bars, shopping, and entertainment found on either Sunset or Santa Monica Boulevards.
Charming to a fault? Almost. But there is one drawback: The hotel does not have a pool. Instead, its main amenity is its Southwestern-ish rustic rooftop complete with outdoor fireplace. Not to discount this rooftop oasis, mind you. In a town where too often ambience slaps you in the face, this unassuming retreat provides the perfect setting in which to pop open a bottle of wine to wind down the day. Or, since this is California, for ingesting an edible and enjoying one of those iconic Los Angeles sunsets.