Tour guides, developers and city boosters have long struggled to resolve Hollywood's split personality. Glamorous in reputation, the city is often gritty in reality.
The creators of the Redbury @ Hollywood and Vine, a new boutique hotel at the famous intersection, cleverly channels the tension between the dueling personalities to create a mash-up of contrasting worlds. It's old and new; rowdy and peaceful; elegant and raw; stinky and highly perfumed; designed for a quick cocktail or a weeklong stay.
With its Jules Verne meets Steve Jobs meets Queen Victoria look, it may be the first Steampunk hotel. But if you aren't familiar with Steampunk's high-tech Victorian hybrids, don't like deafening restaurants, can't read tiny type on menus in the dark and prefer to wake up to something other than beer bottles clanking into the recycling bin, the Redbury might be your idea of wretched excess. If you can ignore the rough patches, the hotel's location, room size and wicked-cool decor make it an exceptional choice for a night on the town or a week spent finishing your screenplay.
Open since early September, the 57-suite Redbury is the commercial decorating debut of celebrity photographer and music video director Matthew Rolston, who once called the Redbury "authentically fake." It conjures a sense of harmonious conflict with contemporary decor (swiveling flat-screen TVs and oversized black tile showers) and retro touches (a '50s record player, vinyl albums and '70s raw wood furniture). The hotel encourages the contrasts: Even the mini-bar menu is divided into sections for Jekyll and for Hyde.
The Redbury @ Hollywood and Vine, 1717 N. Vine St., Los Angeles; (323) 962-1717, http://www.theredbury.com. Published rates range from $299 to $1,000 a night; discounts are available for extended stays.
The target audience of young fashion, music and art types may need help navigating the past: The combination iPod dock, alarm clock and sci-fi TV remote needs no directions, but the record player comes with a card of operating instructions.
With a set dresser's eye for detail, Rolston has made the Redbury's enormous rooms photo-shoot ready. The crew can snack at the 12-foot bar in the kitchenette, reheat takeout on the two-burner stove, toss laundry into the suite's combo washer-dryer or stretch out on the living room couch and upholstered chairs. Within days of opening, racks of clothing already cluttered the hallways as shoots got underway.
Every corner of my spacious 750-square-foot Highland Flat (the hotel's smallest and a bargain at the $209 grand-opening rate) offered another photo-op. There's the Victorian flashback: Brass-studded couch against a paisley-papered wall, Venetian mirror, red-silk lampshades and a Persian rug. The bedroom is a study in exotic curiosities, with framed insect specimens and an embroidered Suzani coverlet on the king bed, dressed, European style, with a down duvet but no top sheet.
The Redbury is a recession retread of sorts. The building was conceived as a $50-million condominium project by Palisades Development, which planned to expand to Hollywood the extended-stay hotel and condo concept it established with Palihouse in West Hollywood. In February, CIM Group, the biggest commercial landlord in Hollywood, took control for $15.8 million and brought in Sam Nazarian of SBE, a real estate developer and operator of hotels, restaurants and nightclubs.
Nazarian has given the Redbury his signature mix of nightlife and hospitality. At night, the place throbs with couples sharing flatbread and Mediterranean dips at Cleo, the ground-floor restaurant and bar. During the day, you can sit outside in a pleasant garden and library/bar called the Glade, which is opposite the second-floor check-in desk.
Elsewhere, you may not relax much: The balconies facing Highland Avenue offer a view, and a whiff, of the next-door nightclub's trash cans. Clinking beer bottles will be your 7 a.m. wake-up call. Some balcony views overlook a rapidly changing Hollywood Boulevard, where a Trader Joe's, a huge W hotel-and-residence complex and new nightclubs are now neighbors.
Be prepared to forage for breakfast, unless an $18 tapas-style breakfast buffet in the bar sounds appetizing (the hotel recently launched 24-hour in-room dining). The neighborhood now sports other affordable dining options, because not every hotel guest will crave executive chef Daniel Elmaleh's contemporary mezes menu of kebabs, Mediterranean salads, tagines of beef cheeks, seafood and meatballs. As part of the SBE family, the nearby Katsuya will deliver its Asian food to hotel guests. Soon, guests also will be granted access to SBE's nightspots, such as the nearby Colony.
With holiday discount prices ranging from $209 to $487 for the two-bedroom flat, the Redbury can compete seriously with the upscale hotels in urban Los Angeles. Just don't expect a pool, a gym or quiet neighbors at the Redbury. Do expect to be transported to a time that is both past and future.