The Lovely Bones of the Figueroa Hotel
Simply walking into the Figueroa Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles feels foreign and familiar all at once. The intricate Middle Eastern furniture, large wooden doors carved with Arabic script and the faded Persian rugs hint that you are not visiting any old Sheraton or Hyatt in the city but are, in fact, strolling through a hotel plucked out of Marrakech. And although you have just become acquainted with the walls, something in the atmosphere weighs heavy with nostalgia. The air carries a faint scent of tobacco and the yellowed pages of a dusty book. Reminiscent of the warm romantic aesthetic of Casablanca, the environment has you falling in love, not with any particular person, but with the aged structure.
“When I opened the doors the first time, I was blown away,” says General Manager Clay Andrews. “This hotel has the best bones of a hotel that I’ve ever seen.”
Built in 1925, The Figueroa Hotel, once a YWCA, joined the many historic structures of the LA landscape with its recognizable sign glowing crimson atop the twelve-story building. While the iconic hotel still stands strong, the almost ninety-year-old building will soon be remodeled in hopes of enhancing the tourist treasure into an even more welcoming destination.
Beyond the building itself, lounging poolside offers an escape from the city while still in the heart of it. Free from any worry, the ambiance provides a rare tranquility not typically associated with the cityscape. Astonishingly, guests relax by the pool without the pestering commotion of the perpetual downtown traffic. Vines, bushes and branches coil to conceal the turquoise getaway from a parking lot just past the western wall.
“You don’t know you’re in the middle of the city,” Andrews says. “It’s kind of like an urban oasis. It’s amazing, you could be anywhere else but Downtown LA.”
The cigar smoke still lingers between guests reading and enjoying the late LA haze. Cocktails taste sweeter, the sun shines brighter and with closed eyes, the modest pool, surrounded by concrete and rush hour mayhem, turns into an exotic bliss. The Figueroa Hotel is a place to visit again and again.