As the world starts to open up (hooray!) it’s a great time to do some armchair travel (and for us to finally run this piece we have been waiting to publish!) Back in 2019 I travelled to Costa Rica for my girlfriend’s birthday and added a little trip to LA to meet some of the beauty greats. It was a flying visit but I still manage to pack in some incredible content for Beauticate and unearth some Angeleno gems that are well worth a visit. Add these beauties to your bucket list.

The Holiday-Vibes Hotel

Feeling not so fresh after the six hour flight from Costa Rica I roll into the Malibu Beach Inn, which is perched on the breathtaking rocky shores of Malibu’s Carbon Beach. All 47 rooms in the sleek sand-coloured building enjoy balconies that frame epic views of the Atlantic ocean. Being part of the Leading Hotels of the World group I know that I’m in for a level of exceptional service and detail that are evident in all their properties. And it begins at check in.

As I’m given my keycard to my room I spy an enormous jar of chocolate chip cookies and am promptly offered a container to take one back to my room. Lunch was hours ago on the plane and I’m ready to eat my own arm, so I gratefully take one. It’s quite easily the best cookie I have ever tasted.

My check in consultant escorts me to my room and shows off its features. I’m lucky to have scored a corner room with sweeping views right to pier and surf beach at Malibu. She shows me how to use the AC and gas fireplace as well as pointing out my high-tech self-cleaning Toto toilet before leaving me to explore.

The room is furnished in comfy coastal style all wooden floors with lashings of Hamptons-esque linen and stripes. On the coffee table is a bottle of local Cabernet Sauvignon with a note from the manager and several macaroons. So far, so chic.

There are other thoughtful little details in the room, too, like flameless tea light candles to set the scene, binoculars to admire the view, a Backgammon board and lantern for evenings spent playing on the balcony as well as all the usual mod cons such as a Bose Bluetooth speaker and Nespresso machines. Hanging in the wardrobe is a denim beach tote: a souvenir to take home.

I have stayed in West Hollywood (WEHO), Beverley Hills and Santa Monica before but being in Malibu is so refreshing and relaxing. It feels like you’re on holidays and allows you to dip in and out of the hectic Hollywood vibes at leisure, yet fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing below. There’s a spa and guests also have use of the Malibu Fitness Centre across the road and private yoga sessions on the beach.

On Gwyneth’s Recommendation…

Even though I feel like hitting the sack, I throw on a dress and call an Uber to meet my girlfriend in Santa Monica for dinner. Georgie Eisdell is a makeup artist to loads of celebs including Gwyneth, Dakota Fanning and Thandi Newton and we haven’t seen each other for several years.

We have a reservation at Cassia, which she tells me is one of GP’s favourites. It’s French and Asian fusion and it couldn’t be more delicious. We sit outside under the fairylights and feast on oysters, a whole sea bass, and green beans with a crisp rosé while catching up on our lives. It’s spicy and flavourful while still being healthy and light. I make note to return on my next trip.

Five Star Facials

The next morning I head to Melrose for a facial at Kate Somerville Spa, which has recently undergone a renovation and is looking super schmick with elegant Hollywood regency décor. My aesthetician Lucy cleanses, polishes and uses some fancy tools on my exhausted skin while I interview her for IGTV. I’ve got a breakout on my chin what happens monthly and she tells me to track my period and in the week before to hit it with exfoliating AHAs like Liquid Exfolikate: a blend of glycolic, malic and lactic acids as well as phytic acid and fruit enzymes: to brighten and dissolve surface cells that can cause breakouts.

Afterwards, I’m lead into a stylish room with a wall of mirrored beauty stations equipped with Oribe Dry Shampoo and Texture Spray, Hot Tools, and Byredo hair perfume. It’s such a great idea for when you’re struggling with facial hair and want to touch up before you head back out into the real world.

I also stick my head into Melanie Grant’s salon to have a look. Mel is out of town so we couldn’t tee something up this time but I’m eager to see her space. She’s done a beautiful job with the fit out – there’s a sweeping staircase fringed in a prism of mirrors and, as in her other salons, nineties supermodels adorn the wall. Her therapist Jasmine shows me the bathroom, which has an epic bath decorated with Chanel product. It’s glamorous and beautiful without being over the top. It’s no wonder she plays host to the A-list whenever she’s in town.

The Melrose Beauty Haunts

No trip to Melrose Avenue would be complete without a visit to the Glossier store. The brand is a unicorn of popularity, in no small part due to their incredible experiential flagship stores, which are inspired design-wise by the city in which they reside.

When I get there I’m met by Casey who gives me a tour of the store and explains that the store is inspired by the Arizona Desert. The sandy hues and blush pink of the walls conjure sunset on the dunes, there’s dried grass foliage fringing the store, and then there’s the #glossiercanyon. A mirrored vault of a room with a light show and soundscape playing that was actually recorded in Arizona’s Antelope Canyon. It gives you a tangible sense of wandering through the cavernous caves at sundown and provides endless Instagram fodder.

Casey takes me through every product, demonstrating as we go, and either side of me hordes of excited women are doing the same thing. They are looked after by a bouncy, pink overall-wearing fleet of Glossier staff who talk a lot about ‘getting Glossier Skin’. The flattering lighting and multiple photo opps make it feel utterly wasteful not to share your experience on social.

It’s a shining example of beauty retail done well and, as I leave, laden with my canvas tote of product, I’m itching to go home and start playing with product so perhaps a bit of the Glossier Glow can rub off on me, too.

I pop into Violet Grey, which has the feel of a Parisian Boudoir stuffed with the most expertly curated collection of beauty brands. It’s almost a little overwhelming. I play with a few things I haven’t seen and take note of a facial roller I need to have before racing over to Santa Maria Novella. It’s empty and echoey but smells delicious, I spritz a bit of floral deliciousness and linger over the various ancient Italian beauty preparations before wandering into Frederic Malle. There, amid a sea of fragrant blotters I find a new favourite – Superstition by Alber Elbaz – and take my leave, before my nose goes into total meltdown.

Some Cool Eateries in Venice

Dinner tonight is with friends Jodie and Kike in Venice at Chulita, a cosy little white-washed resto on Rose Ave just a few doors up from famous Moon Juice and Café Gratitude.

I have one of the best margaritas of my life – cucumber with chilli salt and some incredible cauliflower and fish tacos. It’s spicy, fresh and totally delicious.  There are blue tortilla crisps, spicy salsa and a corn with queso and chipotle butter is one of the tastiest things ever.

We chat about the other places to hit when in Venice. Jodie and Kike also rate Gjelina for the best pizza, soups, salads and everything and they tell me they often have breakfast at Great White Café , which is actually owned by a friend of mine from Sydney Sam Trude and is well known among the Aussie contingent here.

I check it out the next morning and can concur that they do a Sydney-worthy latte in a very cool setting. Sam also recently opened up a bar/restaurant right across the road and next to the Venice sign called Gran Blanco. Although it’s closed when I swing by the space looks lofty and cool with a Mediterranean-inspired menu. I’m sad I don’t have time to go there on this trip.

I do a drive by of Moonjuice and try some delicious chai/turmeric concoction and briefly consider buying some of their very cleverly packaged adaptogen supplement powders – brain powder and sex powder. Big promises but I’m ever the skeptic.

Beautiful in Beverly Hills

Today I’m off to lunch to meet a friend and fellow beauty journo Mary Zavaglia who lives here now. She takes me to Fred’s – a super gorgeous eatery on the top level of Barney’s. in Beverley Hills The slick space is packed with lithe, well-heeled women picking at generous and flavoursome salads. Dressing on the side, of course. We have a typical LA Power Catch up before heading back into the heat of the day.

I’m off to do a video interview with legendary Dermatologst Dr Lancer so I swing by The Drybar for a quick dry style. My adorable stylist mists my hair with texturiser come dry shampoo Triple Sec before expertly pin curling my hair so it can withstand the wilting humidity outside.

Dr Lancer’s office is the ultimate Rodeo Drive address – sandwiched between Ralph Lauren and Emporio Armani. Inside it’s all white on white and clinically pristine without feeling sterile. The walls are adorned with art and there are signed photographs and missives to Dr Lancer from his most famous Hollywood clientele such as Victoria Beckham and Ellen Degeneres.

The Lancer marketing team are welcoming and organized, we have a professional film crew with multiple cameras set up, ready to capture all the doctor’s jewels of wisdom. He has some great perspectives about the wave of dysmorphia and over-work that happens these days and also some great diet and lifestyle tips I hadn’t heard before. His skin looks twenty years younger which he puts down to the Lancer Method – his skincare routine which famously espouses exfoliating before cleansing. – see our video interview here

Frankly, I’m amazed at Dr Lancer’s energy. He tells me he wakes at 4.30am every morning to eat his calorie-controlled breakfast of grilled turkey mince and spinach before heading in to work at 5.30am. He sees on average 50 patients a day and, at 68, shows no signs of slowing down. He is living proof that to preside in this business for over thirty years, you have to not only love what you do but stay laser-focused on your craft.

Into the Hollywood Hills

Dinner tonight is at a friend’s house in Hollywood Heights – a little pocket behind West Hollywood. I swing by Wally’s, an elegant wine bar on Canon to grab some snacks and a bottle of Whispering Angel Rosé, which I’m told that ‘everyone’ is drinking at the moment. 

Getting to their house proves difficult as the Jonas Brothers are playing at the Hollywood Bowl and whenever there’s something on there the whole region becomes a gridlocked of blocked roads. The 20-minute trip takes over an hour but I’m thrilled to find a fragrant vegetarian curry on the boil when I arrive.

Matt Handley is an old friend and is part of a DJ duo (Handles), and his hit along with his partner xxx, ‘No Speak Americano’ catapulted him to fame and he now lives a very jetset life playing sets across the world. His gorgeous Canadian girlfriend Jo has a fashion start up called Open Closit – a high end dress hire service with a sustainable bent and we brainstorm her business over Matt’s incredible curry and home made Naan. After dinner we take the dog for a walk around the Japanese gardens behind their house where we can see the glittering lights of LA splayed before us and all the way to the Hollywood sign.

It’s the postcard ending to a whirlwind trip, and as I glide back through the city to Malibu I’m relieved to have that huge white bed all to myself. This city is endless in its opportunity and, when you’re here, it’s hard not to get swept up. But I like that it’s tempered also with the same laid back outdoorsy vibes of Sydney. So the next morning before check out I take myself down to Malibu and throw myself into the ocean. It’s rocky and bracing – very different to the water back home but a beautiful jolt-back-to-earth and welcome to the day. It’s the perfect end of my trip and start of my journey back home.

Words by Sigourney Cantelo. Malibu Beach Inn photography courtesy of  Leading Hotels of the World and Malibu Beach Inn.

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