New Los Angeles hotels

Author: George Epaminondas

Two LA hotels, both with shady pasts, are taking a glamorous, new turn.

Hollywood loves a second act and two new LA hotels are obliging, with dramatic makeovers propelling them from scandalous flophouses to glamorous retreats. Hotelier Jeff Klein, known for the celeb-studded Sunset Tower Hotel, has transformed a clothing-optional motel for gay men into a budget-friendly, jet-set sanctuary in West Hollywood. The new-look San Vicente Bungalows spans 29 whitewashed cottages in a courtyard garlanded with tropical plants. The cosy rooms are simply decorated and feature toiletries by Malin + Goetz.

Meanwhile, in beachside Venice, British fashion photographer Glen Luchford is behind the flowering of The Rose, a 14-room hotel in an Arts and Crafts-style building from 1908. In a previous life, the hotel was believed to have been a brothel, and it later became a hub for the surfers, artists and bohemians instinctively drawn to Venice. In the intervening years, luminaries including Charlie Chaplin, Jim Morrison and Dennis Hopper have checked into the property. Luchford worked with his colleague Doug Bruce and local designer Katerina Tana to primp the hotel's interiors, with handsome flea-market finds, Indian cotton rugs and ticking-stripe bedding.

Perfection was not the aim. "Our walls are thin, and the building is wonky. And we like it just as it is," says The Rose's website, perhaps one-upping Trip Advisor and its pernickety reviewers.

Some of the hotel's expansive suites have wraparound terraces perched above the carnival-like atmosphere of the Venice Boardwalk. With its eccentric performers, ragamuffin denizens and street vendors hawking everything from bongs to thongs, the beach scene is a potent reminder of the city's lurid past. Some things, even in LA, can never be made over.

San Vicente Bungalows, 845 North San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, LA; The Rose Hotel, 15 Rose Ave, Venice, LA

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