If Hollywood is the f***ing worst, then West Hollywood is a close second in my book. Slightly more tolerable than its neighbor, yet also such a constant scene. WeHo is probably what most people imagine life in LA is like (unless they all think we live in Santa Monica, which is marginally better). It probably checks off all the boxes, fulfills and perhaps even surpasses all the stereotypes. The celebrities, the pretty plastic people partying, the fancy restaurants, the Instagram-ready walls, the all around feeling that you’re being judged at all times. Expensive, exclusive experiences haphazardly scattered around the neighborhood. Some of the most notorious parking enforcement. Loud music at brunch that probably should have stayed within the realms of late night lounges. And parties with reputations that proceed them, particularly for Pride and Halloween.
But Weho isn’t all bad. For all the intolerable parts, there are others that I adore. In small doses and for specific circumstances, one might even find it appealing. At the end of the day, just make sure to double check all the parking signs, move your car every two hours (or at least brush off the chalk) and never, I repeat, never pick a fight with parking enforcement.
Let’s break it down:
- Sunset Strip: (we don’t love it) aka where the worst of LA transplants mingle with some really old school old money LA natives and it’s just… strange to be honest. It feels like Vegas, not super real, not the kind of place you’d write into your everyday routine. It’s the kind of place you go to for a comedy show, or for brunch. And then you leave.
- Melrose (btwn Fairfax and La Brea): (we don’t love it) if Coachella was a street, this would be it. What used to be a street full of thrift stores and alternative street culture has given way to just a weird shell of it with spillover tourists and teens from the suburbs trying to be cool. Sure there are still some gems here and there. And it’s always fun to stop by the Melrose Trading Post. But generally not the most popular part of the neighborhood, more of a drive through kind of region. A stop only if you have a specific destination in mind kind of place. Maybe I’m just bitter because I used to work among these rickety retail spaces.
- Melrose (btwn Robertson and Fairfax): (we love it) but magically as soon as you are west of Fairfax, Melrose transforms from a grungy but not cool vibe to a polished and posh vibe. This part of Melrose is touristy as hell, but as long as you keep your distance from the Paul Smith pink wall and whatever mural is on Carrera Cafe, you can appreciate the shops and boutiques and designer furniture stores that culminate in the darling of WeHo: Melrose Place. We love Melrose Place because it caters to our most LA inclinations. It’s scene-y but in a way that makes you want to be a part of that scene. Sipping on some Alfred Tea, perusing VIOLET GREY and pretending you can afford an apartment that looks like The Apartment by The Line. And past that, west of La Cienega, the LA classics: Urth, Gracias Madre, the patio at Verve, the roof at EP & LP, the general opulence of Restoration Hardware, and of course, the stark and bold primary colors of the Pacific Design Center.
- Robertson (btwn Santa Monica and Burton): (we tolerate it) the street that essentially divides the hot mess of WeHo from the grown up bougie of Beverly Hills, Robertson is remarkably quiet, considering it’s just around the corner from the heart of Santa Monica Blvd and Melrose. In fact, it’s mostly inoffensive furniture and home stores until you get the shit show that is SUR. Of course, in true LA fashion, you still have a few good apples thrown somewhere in the middle of it all that makes it worth stopping by after all.
- Santa Monica Blvd: (we secretly love it) aka where all the gays and those who love the gays go to live their best life in the most culturally stereotypical way it sometimes feels like a joke, a caricature of what the LGBTQ neighborhood should be, amplified and dramatized in a way only LA can pull off. It’s a guaranteed fun night on any given night. During Pride and Halloween, it shuts down to let the party spill out into the streets. Just don’t bring the kids for the Halloween parade unless you’re chill with answering questions about body parts hanging out.
Tl;dr: there’s a WeHo for everyone, if you’re willing to dig for it. If you don’t need to dig for it… well, let’s just say many Angelenos are rolling their eyes.