The Andaz West Hollywood has been a landmark for more than six decades, but not always the serene star of Sunset Strip it has evolved into today. The Andaz West Hollywood is a monument to rock’n’roll history remembered by those old enough to have been there as the Riot House.
So named because it was the former Continental Hyatt House which drew the biggest bands of the 60s and 70s, many revelling in behaving badly between cutting records and performing at the Whisky A Go Go and Roxy down the road.
The Andaz West Hollywood was originally named for a very different kind of musician – Hollywood’s singing cowboy, who opened it in 1963 as Gene Autry’s Hotel Continental. The rockers moved in after it was leased to Hyatt three years later, attracted by the hotel’s proximity to the clubs along the Strip booking touring bands.
Not that safe a perch in the days when Keith Richards and Keith Moon threw televisions out of their windows and Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham rode his motorbike down the hallways, it’s now an elegant base for what remains the hippest area of Los Angeles, on a great white way whose music venues endure and whose giant billboards continue to make the Strip an unmissable sight for visitors.
All credit to Hyatt, who held onto the hotel which has borne its name for most of its life, for acknowledging its debauched heritage by naming its coffee shop the Riot House in celebration of the bad old, great old days.
Tribute is also paid by a giant guitar hero installation and another of brightly coloured boots, not to mention lifts whose doors are lined with record cover murals.
If like the hotel you are an old rocker you can appreciate the memorabilia while enjoying the serenity of this hotel. Couples and singles would feel at home here and it’s a great place for a hen party.
This first hotel to grace Sunset Strip was designed by the same architect as the legendary Cinerama Dome, and endowed with balconies that saw rock history in their own right – Lemmy wrote Motorhead on one, and Robert Plant is said to have proclaimed himself a golden god from another in 1977.
These days the balconies have been glassed in to safeguard pedestrians from falling TVs, even if these days they are giant screens fixed to the wall and the space has been reconfigured to offer sitting areas with a panoramic view of Sunset Strip from the front and the picturesque Hollywood Hills from the back.
Rooms facing the Strip are definitely recommended to revel in the colour and life of the area by day and night; blinds effectively block out the bright lights while you sleep.
My Sunset King room, named for both its view and the gloriously expansive bed, was painted dark green, a soothing fall to the Technicolor show playing outside and had a well-appointed bathroom with a large walk-in shower.
There were good toiletries in large bottles on a shower shelf and comfy bathrobes, but no make-up remover pads, a mini-bar, electronic docking station and plenty of space to sprawl and relax in the sitting area with a great view of the action.
Food & Drink
The Riot House coffee shop comes into its own in the morning, offering breakfast with great street-level views along the Strip. While porridge may not sound very Hollywood, the RH chef makes the best-cooked steel-cut oatmeal tasted outside Ireland, properly cooked in water rather than milk and enticingly served with dried fruit and nuts on the side. Avocado toast is also available, natch, as are LA’s favourite breakfast burritos, eggs Benedict, and the eternal American sweet-tooth offerings of buttermilk pancakes and French toast. Old rock stars can relive their glory days with a Bloody Mary and other breakfast cocktails.
While the hotel expects most guests to eat out, we had an excellent cheeseburger in the hotel, which offers a limited table lunch service, and at all hours there are grab’n’go snacks and drinks service from the Riot House Market in a corner of the coffee shop area. The RH Bar serves cocktails and appetisers by night.
There is an elegant rooftop pool – with bookable cabanas, obvs – and a ready supply of craft beers and cocktails from the poolside bar; in summer there is also daytime food service.
Downstairs is a gym, although no treadmill could be as rewarding as pounding the lively pavements toward Hollywood in one direction, Beverly Hills in the other.
Pit stops line the Strip at street level, and a good place to pause and refresh is the Sunset Plaza shopping complex with elegant boutiques and cafes.
Entertainment is just steps away from the hotel, with the Comedy Store next door, the Viper Room, Whisky A Go Go and Roxy all within walking distance and the Troubadour a mile down the road. While there are plenty of cafes within walking distance, take to wheels to enjoy the most thrilling nighttime view in town – the lights of LA laid out as you make the steep descent down nearby La Cienega Boulevard into the westside’s best-known Restaurant Row.
La Cienega crosses Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue and Beverly Boulevard respectively as you head south; all these are notable for their many eclectic dining options; another reason to choose the Andaz West Hollywood – and West Hollywood itself – as a base for the liveliest LA night life.
Rooms at the Andaz West Hollywood Hotel start from £287
Also read: Travel Guide to Los Angeles