Daytime in Los Angeles is the time to stroll Venice Beach, tour the movie studios, shop the malls, even hike the Hollywood Hills, but when night falls another side of the city awakens. This is when the town comes alive with dining, music, club crawls and more. Explore LA after hours guided by this three-night itinerary.
Start by checking into the right hotel and you won't have to travel far for a good night out. Mondrian Los Angeles is located right on Sunset Strip, close to Fox Studios, Paramount Pictures, Staples Center, Dodgers Stadium, Hollywood Hills, Santa Monica, Rodeo Drive and Getty Museum.
Choose a room with panoramic views of the city and the night lights will be a perfect backdrop to our own private happy hour before splurging on California cuisine at the restaurant, Ivory on Sunset. After sundown DJs step up the beat at Skybar, the open-air ivy covered pavilion poolside that stays open until late (and non-guests are welcome after 1pm daily).
While controversy still surrounds Brisbane's own Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub, long ago destroyed by fire, the legendary Whisky A Go Go which opened on Sunset Strip in 1964, still stands just a five-minute Uber drive from the Mondrian. The historical landmark has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, in its heyday, was the launch pad for 'go-go dancing' and host to a long list of bands including The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Blondie. The Police, Van Halen, Guns N' Roses, Metallica and Mötley Crüe. Today its regular jam nights host emerging and established artists.
Other famous music venues nearby include the Rainbow Room and Roxy (both a couple of blocks west on Sunset), and the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard just east of the Whisky.
After a day of following in the footsteps of celebrities, from the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard to a Starline tour of celebrity homes (or the TMZ Secrets tour) drop into the original Barney's Bearney in West Hollywood. The diner serves up everything from breakfast burritos and burgers to chilli and foot-long hot dogs and has been the drop in spot for generations of movie stars, authors, pop artists, pop culture icons and rock and roll legends, from Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando to Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.
Alternatively, you may score a celebrity sighting of co-owner Ryan Gosling should he drop in to check his investment at Tagine, the modern Moroccan in Beverly Hills run by amiable chef Ben Benameur (Sean Penn, Meryl Streep and Keanu Reeves have all been snapped there in recent months).
Aim for an early sitting because the meeting time at the first venue on an LA Epic Club Crawl is 8-8:30pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Opt for a Hollywood or Downtown LA tour with VIP entry to venues (up to four per night) from the luxe, such as The Reserve, The Room and W Station at the W Hotel and the large, such as Exchange LA, to the Tim Burton-themed Beetle House and boisterous Rusty Mullet sports bars.
The Historic Theatre at Ace Hotel is a restored 1600-seat movie palace, a cathedral to the arts, with a three storey-high grand lobby, an ornate open balcony and a vaulted ceiling dotted with thousands of mirrors that glimmer like tiny stars. The theatre was built in 1927 as the flagship movie palace for United Artists and has been delicately restored to host a wide variety of events, from music concerts to dance performances and film festivals. Take in a performance or just enjoy cocktails and an unforgettable sunset at the adjoining Ace Hotel's rooftop bar before dinner.
The newly remodelled boutique hotel inside the historic building is also a good starting point for the Downtown Art Walk which takes place on the second Thursday of every month between 6pm and 10pm. Either follow the map on a self-guided walk or take the guided tour of galleries, artist studios and cultural institutions and enjoy pop-ups, openings and special events scheduled on these nights.
After some serious art appreciation seek out Birds & Bees, a Mid-Century Modern inspired speakeasy in the basement of a Downtown office tower. Amdist the exposed foundations, steel and concrete interiors, furnishings look life they are straight from a Mad Men bachelor pad. Follow the wooden fence alongside the red brick wall at the northwest corner of the parking lot to find the secret entrance, and descend to find a creative cocktail menu that includes such gems as the Twirly Mustache (London dry gin, coffee sherry, lemon, egg white, house bitters and black cherry coffee bitters) or the Elvis Presley (peanut infused bourbon with banana bread on the side) and punch bowls.