Overview: The Sydell Group (the company that developed the Saguaro Palm Springs, the Nomad in New York, and the Freehand in Miami) brings together local artists, designers (Sean Knibb), craftsmen and culinary talent (Roy Choi) to transform a rundown 12-story, 383-room Radisson in Koreatown into the Line Hotel, a trendy urban boutique hotel with stripped-down raw cement walls and very nice beds.
The Location: The gritty heart of what used to be known as Wilshire Center is the anti-Beverly Hills, an unfashionable stretch of Wilshire Boulevard now better known as Koreatown. The hotel is one block away from where Robert Kennedy was assassinated in the ’60s at the Ambassador Hotel, which is now the site of a beautiful new school and memorial. The Line brilliantly romanticizes the neighborhood’s decidedly counter-culture appeal and makes a pretty good case for (re)discovering the “real” Los Angeles.
The Room: Hollywood Hills King View No. 1235. It’s extremely small for the price. However, the mattress is remarkably high-quality, on par with the beds at the Montage or Four Seasons – except for the pillows, which are synthetic but decent. The well-stocked bathroom is tiny. It really pays to upgrade ($20 difference) to the high-floor rooms with a view of the Hollywood Hills, rather than facing south (and Wilshire traffic) on a lower floor. The golden sunset against the Hollywood sign never disappoints, and there aren’t many hotels that can compete with The Line’s top-floor perspective of L.A.’s palm-tree-dotted sprawl.
Food/drink: Credited with inventing the Korean taco, Roy Choi (the Kogi Taco trucks, A-Frame, Sunny Spot) is L.A.’s reigning bad-boy chef. His new restaurant here, called Pot, serves Korean-American food – including hot pots utilizing Spam and canned corned beef – in a bright, windowless cafeteria-like space. The lobby bar inexplicably serves Lancers wine: Is this the new Pabst Blue Ribbon for hipsters? Great little coffee bar/bakery in the lobby.
Public spaces: The lobby/cafe/bar becomes a nightclub after about 9 p.m., with loud club music and a white-hot singles scene filled with beautiful Asiana flight attendants. All the more reason to upgrade to a high floor: The nightclub’s subwoofers vibrate through at least the fourth level. And although the hotel opened in February, the second-floor terrace pool is sadly still under construction with no opening date set.
Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi in all rooms and public spaces, but the connection is intermittent and slow, and they don’t give you the option of purchasing anything faster.
Service: The young, trendy staff is incredibly friendly and eager to assist at every turn. But if you end up having to call the front desk or security after 3 a.m. to report a wild, over-capacity party in the room next door, your repeated pleas will simply be ignored.
Cost: $220, plus taxes and fees. Parking, add $35 per night.
Bottom line: The Koreatown location is fun and provides quick-and-easy access to downtown or West Hollywood. But beware: The hotel definitely caters to the party-until-dawn crowd.
Where: 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register. To view more of my work for the Register, check out the archives. I also invite you to follow me and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.