Culture / Travel

Downtown Los Angeles’ Remarkable Rise From the Dead Continues With a Landmark New Hotel

The Most Awe-Inspiring Lobby in the City?

BY // 07.10.18
photography Benoit Linero, Sydell Group

The last few years have seen the kind of cultural renaissance in Downtown Los Angeles that wasn’t imaginable a decade ago. What’s now casually called DTLA by locals was once strictly a business district, its streets abandoned on weekends and after 5 pm.

One didn’t hang out there, nor go to dinner, let alone refer out-of-town guests to book a hotel there. But that’s all changed drastically with the dawn of a new downtown that includes a boom in restaurant and retail openings, the development of a thriving arts district, and a nod to preservation, with hoteliers and real-estate moguls buying up historic buildings and converting them into apartments, condominiums, and temporary abodes for chic travelers.

Nothing illustrates this more perfectly than the opening of NoMad Los Angeles, a new hotel from the Sydell Group, which operates the original NoMad hotel in New York. Like its East Coast counterpart, NoMad Los Angeles is housed in a storied property, this one the landmark Giannini Place, formerly the Bank of Italy.

French designer Jacques Garcia, known for his modern take on 17th- and 18th-century references, was tapped for design duties. Other projects include the preternaturally chic Hôtel Costes in Paris and interior design work for the Sultan of Brunei, but he had yet to put his stamp on Los Angeles. At NoMad, he created a gem of a place — in my opinion, the most awe-inspiring hotel lobby in LA — using the building’s original blue-and-gold Italianate ceiling in the lobby as inspiration.

Much of the building’s Neoclassical elements have been painstakingly preserved, from its Doric columns to the marble floors. Even the original bank vault, which once contained 12,000 safety-deposit boxes and a 50-ton door, has been kept in place, although now situated in plain sight, surrounded by the hotel lobby’s square pilaster Corinthian columns and coffered ceiling. Rooms are equally gorgeous, with a hybrid Italian-Californian mood.

Also making their L.A. debut are chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara (Eleven Madison Park, NoMad NY), who oversee all things culinary. The Coffee Bar at the east end of the lobby is modeled after the 300-year-old Caffè Florian in Venice (Italy, not the beach), with massive ruby-red Murano glass chandeliers and ornate marble tables for sitting or standing.

In the evening, a pair of mirrors slides away to reveal a full bar — the perfect spot to transition from your Panini lunch to a Negroni cocktail hour. For those who adore NoMad’s Library in New York, there’s an L.A. version with a literary mix of cultural tomes and open strictly to hotel guests during the day, before allowing the public in for cocktails at night.

For fine dining, there is the elegant Mezzanine, which overlooks the lobby and Library and offers a more formal dinner menu, with plates to share such as a gorgeous fruits de mer and roast chicken for two.

NoMad Los Angeles, 649 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, 213.358.0000,

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