The Freehand hotel opened last week in downtown Los Angeles. This is the Sydell Group’s fourth Freehand, joining Chicago, Miami and New York. (The Sydell Group also operates the Line Hotel in L.A.’s Koreatown.)
Located at the corner of 8th and Olive in DTLA — across the street from legendary dive bar the Golden Gopher — the 226-room hotel resides in the landmark, 12-story Commercial Exchange building, which has been gutted and completely redesigned with an urban-hipster twist on California Craftsman.
The spacious, high-ceilinged lobby lounge includes a fantastic bar called Rudolph’s, plus a quaint coffee bar, Café Integral. An adjacent all-day restaurant, The Exchange, serves a modern Israeli food with a multi-cultural L.A. undercurrent. Okay, that sounds weird, or so I thought until I ate there. The food is absolutely fantastic. You must eat here. Order the grated tomato — don’t ask, just do it.
Rooms range from hostel-type shared rooms with bunkbeds to sprawling corner suites. I stayed on the eighth floor in a standard king room with a partial view of the downtown skyline. The room was nicely appointed with bedside charging stations and all the high-tech amenities I’ve come to expect from a modern hotel. And while everything about the bed was brand new, it left much to be desired. The sheets were downright scratchy, and the mattress more bouncy than plush. This is not the Four Seasons, obviously.
You’ll want to know this: The building’s original single-paned windows are still intact, meaning you will hear every car horn, ambulance, barking dog and late-night drunkard on the street below, all night long, even from the hotel’s highest floors. Also, unfortunately, the rooftop pool and Broken Shaker bar are still under construction and won’t be open until late August at the earliest.
Cost: Private rooms from $209
Bottom line: The Freehand is a direct competitor to the Ace Hotel a few blocks away and wins hands-down when it comes to friendliness of the staff and overall appeal of the lobby, restaurant and bar. It’s a fun hotel at a fair price in a fun location.
416 W. 8th St., Los Angeles, 213-612-0021, freehandhotels.com/los-angeles
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