February 23, 2019
Did this year’s Academy Awards ignite an interest in visiting Hollywood? Our tour of Tinseltown takes you to some of the best spots to soak up the atmosphere, learn about the movies and cover yourself with stardust.
Whether you stay the night or just pop inside, the Hollywood Roosevelt is the place to go for a bit of old-school Hollywood glamour. The historic hotel was the venue for the first ever Academy Awards in 1929, which took place three months after the winners were announced and lasted only 15 minutes. Alongside the Golden Age vibe, this chic Spanish Colonial Revival style property features exquisite public areas, a rooftop swimming pool complete with underwater mural by David Hockney, and a swish all-night diner serving Guinness milkshakes and premium craft-your-own burgers. Book a high-up corner room for views of the Hollywood sign, TCL Chinese Theatre and, in the distance, the skyscrapers of Downtown LA.
Even on the shortest of stopovers, there’s time to squeeze in a drive through the Hollywood Hills. From Hollywood Boulevard it’s only 15 minutes to Mulholland Drive, where you can swing off at one of the most famous vantage points in Los Angeles – the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook – for views over the Hollywood Bowl, the Griffith Park Observatory, Downtown LA and out towards the ocean. From here, loop back around on winding, tree-lined roads dotted with modest bungalows, midcentury stilt houses and swanky Mediterranean-style mansions. The neighbourhoods of the Hollywood Hills are home to numerous film stars, so you never know who you might spot, and the entire journey back down through Laurel Canyon and onto Sunset Boulevard can be driven in under an hour.
Slow things down with a walking tour and see more of Hollywood Boulevard than the Walk of Fame and Johnny Depp impersonators. The Old Hollywood Walking Tour focuses on the history of Hollywood from its earliest days as a low-key suburb to its growth into the movie-making capital of the world. You’ll get to peek inside enduring buildings no longer open to the public like the once-palatial Pacific Theatre, pick up scripts, film posters and old movie photos at Larry Edmunds Bookshop and finish with coffee at Musso & Frank Grill, the oldest continually operating restaurant in Hollywood. Tours last two hours, cost US$25 and run on the last Friday of every month (with some extra dates available – check the schedule).
Going to a graveyard might not be at the top of your travel to-do list, but Hollywood Forever is not your average cemetery. Founded in 1899, it’s Hollywood’s only and oldest resting place for the entertainment industry’s great and good, with a programme of events that run throughout the year including concerts, lectures, outdoor film screenings and the largest Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in the USA. Find the tombs and cenotaphs of Hollywood icons like Jane Mansfield, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland on a self-guided walk, or take a longer tour for a more in-depth exploration.
Just south of Hollywood in the Fairfax District, the historic movie theatre owned by Quentin Tarantino opened its doors again at the end of last year after a major renovation project. Spearheading LA’s arthouse film scene, the 228-seat cinema first opened in 1929 and at various points in its history has been a sweet factory, a beer hall and a celebrity nightspot called Slapsy Maxie’s. Now it’s a cinephile’s dream destination, where only 35mm and 16mm films are shown, as per the direction of its celluloid junkie owner. “I wanted it to stand for something,” Tarantino said. Much of the eclectic programming comes from his extensive personal archive, and one of his own films is shown every Friday night at midnight. Find the New Beverly at 7165 Beverly Blvd and check out the schedule here.