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LA resident and swimwear brand founder Marysia Dobrzanska Reeves shares her insider tips on navigating the city.
The former ballet dancer and surfer launched her eponymous swimwear label in 2009 and today the brand’s scalloped-edge bikinis have reached cult status the world over – proving particularly popular on the beaches of Malibu and Santa Monica.
We met for lunch at Locanda Portofino (Marysia’s favourite Italian restaurant, bar none) and spilled some of the city’s secrets over bottarga pasta (LA isn’t all salad).
MARYSIA’s Insider Guide to LA
What day of the week should we arrive in LA?
Any day is great in LA. Insider tip: LAX airport is currently undergoing construction work so give yourself a little extra time on your way back to the airport to avoid delays.
What’s the best way to explore the city?
It depends on where you’re heading and what you want to see. My only advice would be to avoid the electric scooters; I have seen a lot of accidents on those.
Where’s the best place to wake up?
Nobu Ryokan in Malibu is the best! Get an ocean-facing room wake to the sound of crashing waves and the song of seagulls.
What’s the city’s dress code?
There’s a very relaxed and bohemian vibe in LA – anything goes. Layering is key as the weather greatly fluctuates throughout the day. It’s always chilly in the morning and after sunset, but during the day it can get very warm.
What key pieces do you always pack when travelling?
I always pack a super-soft scarf as it can do everything. I use it as an airplane wrap, beach blanket, sarong, evening shawl, the list is endless… I make sure to pack items that can do double duty.
How would you define your brand?
MARYSIA is always classic, fun and luxurious.
Do your surroundings impact your design?
Very much so. I’m often inspired by a specific place, the flora and fauna, the beach, colours, creatures and shapes.
LA’s coolest neighbourhoods…
The west side is my home and Venice is my favourite neighbourhood. I’m a beach person, so being in close proximity to the ocean is great. There is so much to explore here, too – there is amazing food and boutique shopping from Abbot Kinney to the Boardwalk in Santa Monica, though I do I visit Beverly Hills and Hollywood if I need a serious shopping fix or want to connect with friends.
One misconception about LA is…
That people are superficial. There are so many incredible and talented people living here. We have such a supportive, creative community and incredible working moms.
The best beaches in the city…
We are a surfing family and love hitting the beaches in Malibu and Santa Monica.
Where should we head on a Saturday morning?
A long breakfast at Gjelina then a walk along Abbot Kinney to explore the area and shop.
Where can we do an early morning workout?
A walk, run or bike ride along the beach pathway anywhere from Redondo Beach to Will Rogers State Beach – it is 22 miles long and provides a stunning view.
For Sunday brunch book a table at…
Cora’s, you can’t book in advance but it’s no problem if you get there early. Order the burrata omelette with one of its bagels.
Where should we go for a low-key lunch?
I’m in love with Cha Cha Chicken in Santa Monica. It’s Caribbean cuisine at its best with outside seating and a super chilled vibe. Get the chicken enchiladas with rice and beans and sweet potato with fried plantain.
Other food spots we should try…
The best Italian (I like it more than the Italian in Italy – I swear!) is found at Locanda Portofino. I can’t believe I’m telling you my secret! Get the sea urchin or bottarga pasta. If you’re less adventurous it makes the best penne vodka (ask for peas) and carbonara with asparagus.
Where should we go for a big night out in LA?
I love Chateau Marmont. Stepping inside feels like you’ve gone back in time. My husband and I go there for a late night date when we need a little break. From there you can walk to other places like The Standard nightclub for dancing.
Where should we head post-party?
Sunset Tower for a night cap.
Great day trips include…
Santa Barbara – drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to get there. It’s breathtaking.
One place only locals know about is…
Brentwood Country Mart, it is my favorite place to shop and you don’t see a lot of tourists there.
A great out-of-town option is…
San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara for a romantic getaway, it’s such a special space – the Kennedy’s honeymooned there.
A book to read before we go?
Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis.
What one thing should we bring back as a souvenir?
A candle from the Chateau Marmont’s retail shop; it will take you back each time you light it.
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