Overheard at Broken Shaker on the rooftop of Freehand DTLA: Am I in Miami Beach or Downtown LA?
I cowork in downtown Los Angeles, and drive back to Santa Monica every night, but this summer I wanted to experience DTLA’s famed night life without worrying about the drive home. The Los Angeles government has been focusing on revitalizing downtown LA for decades and the fruits of this labor are apparent. DTLA is being transformed by corporations who have come in for low rent and endless public transport options, which then attracts young business people, new residential development in old warehouses, a multitude of cultural offerings including regular art walks and street festivals, as well as innovative businesses that include markets, bars, hotels, eateries, boutiques, and pop-ups. The neighborhood has been reenergized over the past twenty years and feels exceedingly energized.
There is nothing like cruising between a day party at the rooftop pool and our large hotel room with warehouse windows overlooking downtown LA, while casually conversing with people who enjoy the same flow.
I decided to wake up in the heart of Los Angeles so I stayed where I knew I would be visiting anyway, Freehand Hotel LA. The Commercial Exchange building in which Freehand LA inhabits is a beautiful historic building at the center of downtown LA’s expansion and reimagination over the past century. Inside Freehand is as relaxed as California should be with urban energy injected throughout - especially on the rooftop where a pool and the popular (understatement) Broken Shaker bar serve locals and tourists together in one roof party above the hot city streets. I have stayed at Freehand Miami and NYC so I already appreciate the design, hospitality and the unique combination of hostel community with hotel amenity vibe they pride themselves on, so I booked a night in early June, when most people are flocking out of the city and to the coast, or so I thought. Andre and I stayed in one of the 167 private rooms though there are also 59 bunk rooms if you want to spend your money on the roof bar instead. Our Skyline King room, which was very large and well priced at $153 per night (a last minute booking was rewarded in my case). Towering warehouse style windows had generous sills to enjoy the downtown view, which second to a couch that curved with the wall, was my go-to perch. Vibrantly colored textiles and custom wood furniture coupled with soft California sunlight felt unique but distinctly Freehand.
There is nothing like cruising between a day party at the rooftop pool and our large hotel room with warehouse windows overlooking downtown LA, while casually conversing with people who enjoy the same flow. I ran into everyone I know in DTLA, which is quite a few people and an international bunch, because everyone stops by one of the Freehand restaurants, bars, coffee or flower shops at least once a weekend in this area.
Key takeaway: You should check out downtown when visiting Los Angeles and a visit to Freehand is a must on any DTLA list. When you arrive to check it out, you won’t want to leave, so I suggest you don’t. I’ve listed some other contenders below, including the NoMad, by the same owner. Go to Freehand for Miami vibes and NoMad for Italian chic.
Get a Room!
Freehand Hotel LA
Price: $157 on Hotel Tonight (if you can book last minute, otherwise, check the Special Offers page on the site.)
+1 213 612 0021
416 W. 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
NoMad Hotel Los Angeles
649 South Olive, Los Angeles, CA 90014
While You’re There…
LA Live is the sports and entertainment area around the Staples center. The ‘campus’ is home to sports and music events, entertainment, food and more. Check out the calendar here.
A train station is a destination in DTLA! Go the Grand Central Market for a cultural food fix (my favorite is Tacos Tumbras a Tomas or try a $10 PBJ from PBJ.LA) and Angels Flight, a historical landmark and the OG commute to downtown.
LA Walking Tours will share the cultural, historic and even haunted highlights of DTLA.