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