Ian Schrager barks enthusiastically "What do you mean 'what are we doing to make our hotels more sustainable?' You're holding it!"
For context, Schrager, the father of the boutique hotel concept and co-founder of the former Studio 54 club, is referring to the plastic-free water bottle that I have clasped in my hand. After a moment's silence, he continues: "There's no point building a brand-new hotel nowadays if it isn't sustainable; we just choose not to shout about it."
And silently done it Schrager has. In 2019, EDITION Hotels introduced a Stay Plastic Free initiative to omit single-use plastics from every part of its operations. Partnering with a diverse range of eco-brands and charities such as Lonely Whale and Project Zero, the group found plastic-free alternatives to minibar items, coffee cups, straws, water bottles and other amenities, in the process making EDITION one of today's greenest hotel brands.
At The West Hollywood EDITION, the brand has raised the benchmark for sustainability, creating Los Angeles's new go-to, green-forward hangout conveniently located on the border of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Hidden by a mini biosphere of Aleppo pine, arbutus, Carolina cherry laurel, olive and ficus trees, the Sunset Boulevard hotel is premised on the "art of good living".
Stepping through the hotel's giant wooden doors, you're greeted by a soaring, golden yellow, John Pawson-designed lobby crafted from Italian travertine and red cedar. Long, draped green curtains sway to the hum of cool Cali beats, as the eye is drawn to an abstract installation by local artist Sterling Ruby.
The defining vibe is one that's cool but not pretentious, with under-the-radar A-List types checking in alongside locals, business folk, stylish travellers and the who's who of the LA set. And yes, while the hotel can easily be accused of being too scene-y, its artistic elegance adds a touch of redeeming oomph and creative class - something that the dated hotels of Beverly Hills should take note of, and fast.
Sleek, slick and eco-minded, The West Hollywood EDITION is for those who want to experience what Los Angeles is really about: the cult and allure of Hollywood, its glamour, its creativity and its crazily creative arts scene.
The look is bare and minimal, with light-filled rooms and mega suites that are more reminiscent of a swish New York City loft than they are hotel digs. Space-wise, it's kept simple with clean white lines, a mish-mash of Cali-style blonde-wood furniture and crystal-clear floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto views of either Beverly Hills or Downtown LA. Smart stylistic touches include curated LA-centric art books on the coffee table and a faux-fur blanket (a nod to Schrager's mother) on the huge, super comfortable beds. Bathrooms are mammoth - bigger than my apartment - complete with a freestanding tub and cavernous rain shower, both stocked with amenities made exclusively for the EDITION courtesy of Le Labo. As part of its anti-single-use-plastic policy, the EDITION serves drinking water in either cartons or glass bottles, and all other amenities in non-plastic pouches. The mini bar? Ridiculously stocked with everything from candles to Cali wines and spirits, condoms, that's-so-LA snacks and, randomly, posh headphones.
What's for breakfast?
Various omelettes, jalapeño-spiked green juices and playful spins on all-American classics. Try the buckwheat pancakes loaded with berries or the avocado toast with seeds. The coffee is pretty good, too.
What about lunch and dinner?
Both are served at the low-lit (a godsend after a heavy night on the Strip) ground-floor restaurant Ardor, a verdant jungle-like date-night hangout headed up by Michelin-starred chef John Fraser. The menu celebrates what Fraser is known for best: plant-based, vegetable-centric cuisine. Dishes are seasonal and fiery, featuring curried cauliflower, beet salads and shredded (and truffled) Brussel sprouts. It's not as "LA" as it sounds - however, I will admit that the posh lettuce served in a wine glass was a tad too much. Non-veggies will also enjoy sustainably sourced meat dishes, including well-seasoned wagyu beef, Alaskan king crab and some mighty fine steaks. Other cooler-than-cool haunts include the Lobby Bar - a great spot for drinks pre- and post-dinner - and the roof, an interesting snack bar concept with booze and small plates served either poolside or on the balcony, fabulous cityscapes included.
What about the service?
Staff, though helpful, friendly and incredibly well dressed, seemed lost in their own la-la lands at times, especially on the door and at the concierge desk. The best of the bunch are found on the rooftop, and who, during my four-night stay, couldn't do enough to make me feel more welcome.
There's a temple-like spa hidden underneath the hotel that focuses on mindfulness and wellbeing. Treatments include CBD and plant-based facials as well as massages, light-recovery therapies and self-guided meditation. Above it, there's a large gym kitted out with Peloton bikes and TRX suspension-training gear. The hotel also hosts a series of creative nights, along with all sorts of takeovers that take place on the rooftop, in the lobby and in the cinema with high-definition screens.
Things I should know…
If you're a light sleeper, avoid the rooms facing the Strip. Come nightfall, the crowds lining up to get into the hotel's basement club can get a little loud - not what you need when you're yearning for a desperate dose of shuteye.
Within a short walk I can find…
Melrose Avenue for a slice of SoCal city life. Find retro steals at Decades and Resurrection Vintage Clothing, peep into movie staple Fred Segal (of Clueless fame) and slap your best frock on for a magically pink Kodak moment in front Paul Smith's Instagrammable boutique. Great nearby eateries include vegan powerhouse Gracias Madre, a cross between modern Mexican and casual Palm Springs armed with excellent mezcal collection and dreamy outdoor patio space. Night+Market WeHo dishes out excellent and seriously spicy Thai food masterminded by chef Kris Yenbamroong. The 100-ounce beer tower is a must-try here. And for seafood, check out Connie & Ted's for fresh oysters, clams, shrimp and a kick-ass selection of California-centric reds and whites. The celeb-filled restaurants of Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Venice Beach and the grandiose super mansions of Bel Air are all a short Uber or Lyft ride away from the hotel, too - depending on the notorious LA traffic, of course.