Los Angeles, CA: The Mondrian, aka “Our trip to Pretentiousville”

The Mondrian Hotel, LA

On a recent trip to LA to do some television editing and sound design, I had the opportunity to stay at the famed Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles. The Mondrian Hotel is a part of a chain of trendy hotels in hip American cities (The Delano in Miami is another one).

This place has all the hallmarks of a trendy hotel, namely rude valet service at the door with lots of European-looking poseurs clad in cream colored suits to assist you with your bags and answer what should be obvious questions like “Um, where’s the front desk?”—a question every first-time guest has to ask upon entering this labyrinth of heavy-handed design strangeness.

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A breakfast bar/lounge area opposite the lobby. In the evening, they roll out a full bar and it’s a hangout.

Walk in the front door and you face a bank of recessed elevators. To the left is an assortment of odd white seats positioned haphazardly around the corner leading up to a full bar. To the right of the elevators is a big mirror, a vinyl chaise lounge, the concierge desk and long white gauze drapes hanging down from very high ceilings to the floor (not in front of a window or anything, just sorta in the middle of the lobby.) Obscured behind these flowing obstructions is the elusive front desk where the uber-attractive “help” charge you too much, misplace deliveries and generally void any chance of getting your money’s worth during the stay.

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Inside the wood-paneled elevator. Note the actual 4” color television screen inside the picture frame.

The elevators are unique in that they are recessed so far, you can’t tell they’re open unless you are standing six feet back. The call button is hidden on a short pole protruding from the floor way off to the right side. Once you figure the usually simple act of GETTING ON the elevator, you are greeted by one of three different framed video screens about 4” square (Mine had a close-up shot of a man’s eyes looking out at you—that’s all it did. The second was a windswept field of wheat, and I forget the third).

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Before the flash went off, the area just off the elevator was lit like a citywide blackout.

Stepping off the elevator, you look directly across the hallway at a square cutout in the wall that glowed eerily. I looked inside and saw a TV was set up to project changing colored light on the wall that could only be seen through this cut out hole. No reason. It just did. Very odd. Otherwise, the hallway was unadorned and also barely lit.

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Inside my palatial suite. Cheap, ugly furniture covered by white slip-cloths. The mini-bar lets you start the day with a bowl of cereal for a mere $4. Milk is only another $3.50.

The rooms themselves were seriously white. White couch. White tables. White walls. White everything. There was a pale green as an accent color, but other wise, white. The initial effect is impressive, but after staying there a few days, it wears off. Then it’s just cold, impersonal and reminds you of a hospital. How cheery.

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Some floozy I picked up in the “Skybar”. (See below.)

The furnishings—though very white—were remarkably cheap. Just ugly, old furniture that had been repainted or reupholstered. At $260 a night for a single, they must make a killing on this place.

But none of the overwrought, frou-frou interior decorating is why people pay top dollar to stay there. The real attraction at the Mondrian is the Sky Bar.

A guests-and-celebrities-only kind of place where the painfully trendy wanna-be’s go to be seen by the celebrities who are usually somewhere even trendier.

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Aerial view of the world-famous “Sky Bar”—still considered a hot spot for L.A.’s trendy and pretentious. The large mattress at the bottom of the picture is normally reserved for only the best-looking people. The actual bar area is under the small roof in the top right hand corner.

(Our producer spent $12 on a highball. Ouch.) On the plus side, there were lots of attractive women dressed like rock band groupies. You got the impression that the door policy is “Guests-only, unless you’re a really easy-looking female, then c’mon in!” Some friends believed that possibly some of the ladies were of the “working” variety (kids, don’t ask). I only saw one celebrity there, J. Peterman from the show “Seinfeld” walked by on his way out. (Amy had a better brush with celebrity when we had dinner at “Moose’s” in SF and saw Sharon Stone there.)

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The new lobby, sans flowing white drapes from ceiling everywhere. Elevators are to the left. Note large mirror on way to front desk (where the orange area is.)

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