Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adventure Wednesday in 1950s Downtown

We go adventuring every Wednesday in order to treat ourselves for self-care well done, to help us refill our creativity wells, to feel a part of our city, and to explore what it has to offer.  But this week, in celebration of my fist 50 pounds lost, Tom surprised me by whisking me off downtown for an overnight adventure.  So we indulged in everything that beautiful 1950 has to offer.

Or, well, it felt like the 1950s, because we snagged an unusually reasonable room at the Biltmore Hotel, a Los Angeles landmark.

We're collectors of vintage Los Angeles postcards, and we have one just like this.

Here is the hotel, today.

You might know it as an early host of the Academy Awards ceremonies.  Or you might know it as the place you first encountered Slimer in Ghostbusters.

Or perhaps as the place where Betty Draper floated down the staircase in Season 2 of Mad Men.

If you come back later this week, you might catch me floating down this same staircase on Fashion Friday.


We chose to celebrate my negative 50 lbs in 1950s here, and not only because we love the retro aesthetic. It gave us the chance to do some adventuring with food and exercise, plus it helped us focus on writing together, as a creative retreat.  We're coming close to a particular writing deadline of ours, so we the took the time to be collaborate while cooped up in luxury (and away from distracting cats and friends and chores and TVs.)

We started out with lunch and tea in the Rendezvous Gallery.

It came with a vintage tea set, complete with tea cozy.

My tea was called "Green Passion," and it was delicious.

Especially with a touch of floral honey. Yes, I admit it. I took these home. They were too cute to abandon!

I lunched on - what else? - a Los Angeles vintage classic, the cobb salad.

It doesn't have to be an unhealthy choice, as long as you leave the majority of the bacon,
half the avocado and bleu cheese, and 99.9% of the dressing, which was in a pitcher the size of my fist.

Following lunch, we explored the hotel a little bit.  After all, we had it all to ourselves.  Except, of course, all of the Red Bull employees.

And the cast & crew of True Blood.

No, we didn't see the actors. Even though we found a call sheet that someone had dropped on the ground, so we knew what time they'd be arriving.  I'm not paparazzi.  (And I don't watch the show.)

We were especially excited to check out (and make use of) the lovely Biltmore Athletic Club, which is free for all guests.  I've visited in the past, and the swimming pool is hands-down my favorite indoor pool in Los Angeles.   I spent over an hour doing snorkle-laps and absorbing the atmosphere.

Don't you just want to jump into your screen?

We even did some excellent brainstorm work while enjoying the perfectly hot-bathtub-like whirlpool.

I loved the lounge chairs. I felt like I was on the deck in "The Lady Eve."

They had a tremendous number of treadmill and elliptical machines, all with personal TVs.
There were also weight machines and free weights. A great gym for a hotel!

We managed to finish a nice chunk of our script, and even caught a movie before bed (Josh Radnor's writer/directorial debut, HappyThankYouMorePlease - which I definitely liked, but didn't love.)

In the morning, we took a few blocks' stroll to breakfast at Clifton's Cafeteria - the oldest surviving Los Angeles restaurant.

Man, I hardly recognize my silhouette anymore!

Once part of a chain of Southern California cafeterias (each with a different elaborate theme), the downtown Clifton's is the last that remains of the bunch. 

It's jam-packed with woodland kitsch.

Legend has it that the crude robotic raccoons and the (kind of) immersive theming
inspired Walt Disney in the creation of Disneyland.

Even the food offerings are retro-kitschy. 

Though very plentiful, and very affordable.

Our breakfast, which included an egg white/veggie omelet with potatoes,
pancakes and grilled potatoes, two servings of whole wheat toast,
strawberries and a bottle of water, came to a grand total of $14.

Worth a trip, whether you're a history buff, a fan of things strange and corny, or just a little light in the wallet these days.

All in all, our celebratory trip downtown was both relaxing and productive, which was exactly what we needed to be.  Now we're tucked back into our Hollywood condo, trying hard not to be distracted by the kittens or the laundry while we finish up our script.  Wish us luck!

I'll be back tomorrow with a bit of honesty and a request for you all. Until then, I hope you'll find some adventure of your own... and take care of you while doing it!


  1. Was that a pretty Heidi in a pretty dress I saw in the reflection? If so, pictures please! :)

  2. I want to be just like you and Tom.

  3. Ditto that, I want to go out with you and your husband (and I will even bring mine too)

  4. How fun!!! Love the architecture and the pool and the tea set and, and, and...

    Tom wins mega points for this!

  5. What a lovely adventure! You and Tom are perfectly adorable. :3

  6. I love the Biltmore!

    And surprisingly, I have never been to Clifton's Cafe, even though I've gone through periods of time where I'm in that area a lot. I'll have to check it out the next time I'm out there.

  7. this looks like such a lovely outing. i've never been on the west coast, and i have to say i've never really had much interest in visiting LA, but the little peek you've given me here looks interesting! i love that you're still able to make good food choices when you're out, and that you're sharing them here.

  8. What a wonderful way to celebrate your milestone!

  9. Lemme get this straight. You don't watch True Blood, so you simply passed up a chance to see some of the cast when you came upon precise information of where they'd be near you and when?

    You're so fired. ;-)