Los Angeles Luxury Travel & Style Guide

Los Angeles Luxury Travel & Style Guide

  • Reviewers name – Michael Grenville
  • Title – Editor of Gentlemans Butler, luxury blog and provider of lifestyle services
  • Occupation – Editor and Consultant
  • Review description – A luxury guide to Los Angeles
  • Interviewee – Sophia Banks Coloma
  • Contributor – Philip Blackwell
  • Location – Los Angeles
  • Date – 23 February 2013

Having recently been introduced to Sophia Banks-Coloma, a celebrity stylist working in the US film industry and simultaneously deciding that Gentlemans Butler should start looking at key cities around the world with a focus on style, glamour and beauty; it seems appropriate to start this on the weekend of the 2013 Oscars.

In the same week I met with Philip Blackwell, at The Ampersand Hotel, who runs Ultimate Library, the world’s leading supplier of bespoke book libraries for hotels, resorts and private residences and so asked his suggestions on books to read when visiting LA.


Michael Grenville - Editor of www.gentlemansbutler.com
Michael Grenville – Editor of www.gentlemansbutler.com

 GB -What should we be looking out for in the Oscars for both style and beauty?

Sophia -When it comes to style at the Oscars, actresses always go for that ‘WOW’ moment. As a celebrity stylist, I have worked for many awards shows; this year I will actually be backstage at The Academy Awards, as I’m styling Kristen Chenoweth. So I’m sure, like every year, there will be beautiful, full gowns and dazzling jewels. We can also expect a fair offering of black and white, as this is a HUGE trend for Spring 2013.  Another trend on the Spring 2013 runways are ruffles- in a more architectural way than girly. Therefore, we can expect to see architectural ruffles specifically on ladies’ trains and neckline detailing.

If the other awards shows this season are any indication of beauty trends, we will also see a lot of rosy, soft makeup.  But again, it is The Academy Awards, so people will really bring their A-game, which often translates to more dramatic make up; think bold lips and smoky eyes.

So if you’re looking for a good gift for your woman, definitely go for one of the above trends (hint: black and white is always a classic)!


Book recommendation for LA from Philip Blackwell

Bright Shiny Morning  James Frey

An absolute triumph of a novel…. hits the deeper truths with this honest, vibrant and tender portrait of Los Angeles and the American dream . . . one of the finest and most important writers to have emerged in recent years’ (Irvine Welsh)


GB -What is the most current and unique fashion shop for ladies in LA?

Sophia – For ladies, one of my favorite stores is Satine! It’s right in the middle of LA’s amazing 3rd Street shopping district and it is filled with the most contemporary designers.  They have the staple brands you know and love such as Preen, Alexander Wang, and Carven, alongside the designers that you will instantly fall in love with like Yigal Azrouel, Jonathan Simkhai and Tanya Taylor!


GB – What is the most current and unique fashion shop for gentlemen in LA?

Sophia – For guys, I’m all about Confederacy.  It’s in Los Feliz, so you know it’s automatically cool!  You can find jeans, sweaters, and an incredible shoe selection.  If you see it at Confederacy, you know it’s an amazing piece of clothing.

Book recommendation for LA from Philip Blackwell Get Shorty – Elmore Leonard – In Hollywood, home of movies, gorgeous women, players and fast operators – every move you make is a potential scene… Nerve-shattering suspense, crackling dialogue and scathing wit from ‘the hottest thriller writer in the US’


GB – What’s the most in vogue beauty treatment?

Sophia – When it comes to beauty treatments there are hundreds of treatments (some of them totally insane!) for every kind of issue. There are body-fat tightening, electric facials, head-to-toe facials and every type of laser procedure ever imagined.

However, a lot of ladies in Hollywood prefer to keep their complexion glowing by eating all organic, avoiding sugars and doing a juice cleanse ever so often.


GB -What is the best Spa in LA? 

Sophia – I really love Exhale Spa.  It’s the most amazing environment where you can take one of their yoga classes and then go straight into a massage, facial or whatever else your body needs.  Pure bliss for mind and body! Plus they have locations in Hollywood, Santa Monica and Venice so it’s very convenient!


Book recommendation for LA from Philip Blackwell

The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler

Chandler is one of the greatest crime writers and no trip to LA is complete without a dose of  Philip Marlowe. ‘Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence’ Ross Macdonald


GB – What’s your favorite restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Los Angeles?

SophiaFor breakfast, I’m all about Urth Caffé (there are a handful all throughout LA, including West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles).  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, but breakfast is the best in my opinion! Organic coffee and teas, and amazing omelets, oatmeal and pastries!

For lunch, everyone needs to try Café Gratitude (639 N Larchmont Blvd.) at least once.  I’m not vegan, but their menu makes me think that I totally could be!

And for dinner I’m all about Fig & Olive (8490 Melrose Place).  Get the French Riviera Salmon and I promise you’ll love it!


GB -What’s the best view in LA for those romantic souls?

Sophia – Hands down the view from the Getty Museum.  On a clear day you can see from Downtown to the ocean, and at night it’s equally as beautiful.  Plus I’m a big fan of museums and the Getty is one of my favorites, so it’s a beautiful view from all sides!


Book recommendation for LA from Philip Blackwell

Vanished Years –  Rupert Everett

‘Stands head and shoulders above the season’s celeb memoirs … With nobody left in Tinseltown to please, Everett unleashes himself as a hilarious, unsparingly bitchy chronicler of celebrity hell ….. irresistible’  Sunday Times


GB – Want to be seen and dance the night away, where should one go?

Sophia – My daughter is about to turn 4 years old; so these days I spend the night dancing with her!


GB – Where would you take someone visiting from out of town?

Sophia – There is really so much to do in LA, so it depends what type of friend it is.  The Santa Monica Pier is always fun; think carnival games, beautiful sunsets, fun shopping on 3rd Street and great food.  The Griffith Observatory is also really nice.  You can hike up to the top if you’re in the mood, or just drive up for the amazing views from Downtown to the ocean and back to

The Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign

the Hollywood sign.  Plus there are all of the stars!  If my friend is more of the shopping type then we would go straight to Melrose Ave for a mix of designer stores and one-of-a-kind boutiques.


Book recommendation for LA from Philip Blackwell

The Tortilla Curtain TC Boyle

A satirical novel that throws together a privileged life of a wealthy white family living the dream in LA with an illegal Mexican couple and challenges the reader’s perception of race, class and above all conscience. “A remarkable feat of imaginative empathy’ — The Daily Telegraph


GB – What is the most stylish hotel in LA presently?

SophiaThe Chateau Marmont is famous for a reason! At the top of Sunset Boulevard it has amazing views, rooms, bungalows, a legendary bar and all of the stories to match.  Just see for yourself on this one!


GB – What is the coolest period of style for fashion in LA and explain why?

Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles
Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles

Sophia – One of my favorite times in Los Angeles history is the 1920s.  The Art Deco movement remains strong in LA with a lot of buildings that have maintained their original 19020s style from when they were built.  The clothes at that time were also amazing.  Women were dramatically changing the way they dressed- shorter hemlines, bare shoulders, etc.  It must have been energizing in an incredible way!



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