Review: The NoMad Hotel, Los Angeles

The NoMad Hotel in downtown Los Angeles is the younger (yet more grown up) sibling of the nearby Freehand. This is the uppermost tier of the burgeoning Sydell Group, which also operates The Line Hotel in Koreatown and The Sagauro in Palm Springs, among others. This is actually their second NoMad-branded hotel (the first is in New York). It opened in January 2018 and occupies a 12-story building that was originally erected in the roaring 1920s as the American headquarters of The Bank of Italy.

The gorgeous restoration and Italian-inspired design were overseen by legendary French designer Jacques Garcia (whose notable work includes La Mamounia, Marrakech; Hotel Costes, Paris; and The Holborn, London).

The highlight of the hotel is the lavishly restored lobby, which no longer serves as a lobby but has been repurposed as the hotel’s eponymously named restaurant and bar (run by acclaimed NYC chef Daniel Humm). The ground floor of the two-story space resembles a very expensive brothel. Velvet plays a big role here, in the drapes, on the wallpaper, on the sofas and chairs. Purple, lime green, magenta, royal blue… Garcia has never been one to shy away from bold colors. It’s all very dramatic. And undeniably beautiful. The only drawback to a gorgeous restaurant that cannibalizes a hotel’s lobby is that, well, there’s not much of a lobby. There’s not much room for hotel guests to mingle and gather with friends for a drink without making a reservation for lunch or dinner.

There is another bar on the rooftop, a super-casual indoor/outdoor cafe adjacent to a lovely pool. But it can get stiflingly hot up there. The rooftop’s umbrellas are woefully inadequate as the sun bounces off many of the surrounding skyscrapers, coming in hot at near horizontal direction when the sky lacks clouds. That said, if you beat everyone else to the pool you might — might — be able to snag a cabana.

The 241 rooms are incredibly stylish, down to the old-fashioned brass light switches and retro-styled am/fm radios on which it would seem blasphemous to play anything other than jazz. The in-room barware is very sexy, so it would be a shame not to raid the minibar of its liquor. The beds are very soft. Too soft, really. You’ll sink in the middle. It’s sort of like sleeping on a trampoline but with very nice linens.

While almost everything in the building has been meticulously restored, it’s a shame that the scope of this project did not extend to replacing the old windows. The cacophony that unfolds on the streets of downtown can be a shock to the senses at 5 a.m. Even from the 11th floor, the overnight chaos on the streets below makes it necessary for The NoMad to stock its nightstands with earplugs. For a hotel that would like to be classified as luxury, that’s a real drag.

Even with all these flaws acknowledged, it’s hard to resist The NoMad’s charms. Service is terrific throughout. In the ever-growing boutique-hotel market in downtown Los Angeles, this one ranks among the best.

Bottom line: This is an absolutely charming boutique hotel in the heart of DTLA. It is NOT super-luxury, but it is a fun place to stay if you can tolerate ultra-soft beds and outside noise at 5am.

Rates from $255. 649 S. Olive Street (at 7th St.), Los Angeles, 213-358-0000, thenomadhotel.com

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