Local Takes: Los Angeles
Five notable locals show us how to do Los Angeles, their way.
It was the best hospitality experience I’ve ever had,” says hotelier Jeff Klein of his and husband John Goldwyn’s stay a few years back at the Seven Rooms Villadorata in Noto, Sicily. “It was so authentic, and had such a soul. I was like, ‘I want to have a hotel like that. I want to deliver that experience.’ And then I thought, Everybody’s doing bigger hotels. Why don’t I go in this direction?” With a host of premier properties to his name, Klein—the impresario responsible for West Hollywood’s glamorous Sunset Tower Hotel—was inspired by the tiny Seven Rooms Villadorata, set in the baroque former residence of a prince, to create his intimate Hotel 850 SVB, at the edge of West Hollywood near Beverly Hills.
“The economies of scale are pretty tough with a 23-room hotel,” he says, “so obviously money’s not the motivator. But that’s not my goal. My goal is creating things I’m really proud of, and that’s how 850 came about. It’s extremely authentic and personal.”
Klein has reason to be proud, and—in collaboration with designer Rita Konig and architect Marc Appleton—has produced something unique in contemporary American hospitality. A luxe boutique property with a clubby, residential vibe, Hotel 850 SVB (named for its location at 850 North San Vicente Boulevard) is an exceptional hybrid, akin to a particularly stylish postmodern bed-and-breakfast, with an incredibly polite staff who greet guests by name and take pains to ensure their comfort.
Hotel 850 SVB in West Hollywood.
Guest rooms are bright and airy, with light pouring in through steel-sash windows onto wide-plank oak floors, and illuminating the marble sinks in the bathrooms. And while the occasional visitor to Los Angeles might scoff at the idea of fireplaces in every room, Klein maintains, “It gets cold, and when it does, there’s nothing better than a fire. It’s really just lovely.”
Describing 850’s unique niche, he says, “I’m almost competing more with Airbnb than with other hotels, because [here] it’s like having your own pad in West Hollywood, but without the drawbacks of Airbnb. Like, I want room service, and I want to know where to eat. And I want maid service, you know?
Hotel 850 SVB interior.
“That’s why my experience in Sicily was so interesting, because I was sort of forced outside my comfort zone,” he continues. “And now that’s what I look for in hotels. I travel differently. And I’m hoping people will travel differently after staying here, too. I think they will because this is a unique experience.”
Along with a communal kitchen, Hotel 850 SVB serves breakfast in the living room, drinks in the reception area, and wine and meze on the roof in the evenings. “They did a similar thing in Noto,” Klein says. “I thought I would hate it—I was like, ‘I don’t want to meet people’—but I loved it. It’s very unusual to have so many public spaces, especially with only 23 rooms. To have three sorts of experiences in such a small hotel is rare.”