A-list Los Angeles: Where to spot a celebrity

Sitting in the chilled shade of the poolside bar at The Beverly Hills Hotel was Scott Disick, a Kardashian clan member who just a few days later was reportedly in rehab.

If the beard was an attempt to fly under the radar, the scruffy growth failed, easily spotted in what some may suggest his natural habitat of LA luxe.

I was poolside admiring the dreamy, updated cosy cabanas with powder pink walls and fresh white outdoor settings. The banana-leaf design wallpaper sprucing up the space, replete with L-shaped day bed and flat screen television, that can be yours for the day for about $US800 ($1000).

Los Angeles is known for effortlessly offering celebrity sightings. Mostly, all you need do is step outside to more than likely trip over fame. Recently, I accrued an impressive tally.

Wearing daggy stretched leggings and a sloppy top, I headed to SoulCycle in West Hollywood to "participate" in the latest fitness craze. SoulCycle classes involve dancing while pedalling to pumping re-mixed tunes by the likes of Ed Sheeran and Janet Jackson while yelling inspirational affirmations and sweating out toxins. It's deliberately exhausting, energising and encouraging. I noted no typical gym stench but a floral scented bouquet in a room where nearly 60 people had just melted.

Afterwards I learnt the sweet young poppet with teeny twisted piggy tails who had steered the bewildered me to bike 53 at the 8.30am class was former High School Musical actor Vanessa Hudgens. And being such a good sport, she agreed post sweat-session to stop for selfies in her skeleton-design onesie.

After experiencing the "Red Carpet Mega Moisture Facial" at Kinara Skin Care Clinic and Spa (so relaxing I slept through most of it), I couldn't convince my super stylish Romanian beauty therapist to divulge the names of those who had come before me for treatment. There were loads of hints (I deduced Angelina Jolie but I can't be sure) as I admired my plumped and dewy skin but it seems celebrity beauty secrets are safe at Kinara.

I missed him by a fortnight, but I admired a similar sunset to the one Hollywood star Matt Damon appreciated when he celebrated his birthday at EP & LP, the hippest place to hang and eat Thai food in LA. Owned by Australian entrepreneur Grant Smillie and business pal David Coombes, the eatery-cum-club-cum-rooftop bar is a celebrity magnet. I sat at the bar where Al Pacino imbibed, I kicked back with a custom cocktail where rocker Tim Rogers revelled and I was witness to a visit by film veteran Michael Caton, who thrilled the Aussie chefs toiling in the kitchen. Yes, more selfies (with obvious references to classic movie The Castle).

There was shopping to be done at The Grove, which is arguably one of the prettiest outdoor shopping centres to spend a day (and your hard earned cash) at. Stores include Michael Kors, Barneys and Banana Republic. No famous faces spotted that day but I felt like a VIP as the concierge not only looks after vehicles but also stores shopping bags and parcels as they pile up. The synchronised fountain was designed by the same folks who created the famed Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. Recent visitors to the outdoor mall include Martin Short and Debra Messing.


The Hollywood Bowl is an obvious haunt for the famous. Upcoming acts at the 1920's amphitheatre include The Cure, Janet Jackson, Andrea Bocelli and Black Sabbath. I experienced the Bowl for the first time as the Zac Brown Band sent thousands of fans into a country music frenzy. I had never heard of the outfit but it didn't matter a shred. The acoustics and atmosphere were electric.

But where would I find a real, Real Housewife of Beverly Hills? At her restaurant, of course. Lisa Vanderpump stopped by to hold court in her favourite (and only) pink chair at Pump in West Hollywood but not before being accosted by an Australian tourist. The reality television queen broke her own rule and allowed a selfie or three. Wonder if she ordered the Pinky Pump Burger: one of the top items on the menu.

A quick mention for Soho House – an exclusive West Hollywood club which has welcomed Australian actor and crooner Hugh Sheridan as a member. The place is brimming with famous peeps (I saw Rod Stewart) who want to be left alone to enjoy stunning balcony views, delicious afternoon teas and scrumptious spreads for lunch and dinner. And just a warning, the no-photo-policy is diligently enforced by staff.

Gracias Madre is a plant-based and 100 per cent organic Mexican restaurant that has fed the likes of Liam Hemsworth and Melanie Griffith. The tacos and enchiladas are delicious and the cocktails are a creative treat (seek out a mix of tequila blanco, roasted pineapple and jalapeno called Boozy Popsicle). However, I wasn't a fan of the coconut bacon or tempeh chorizo.

I entered the dimly lit Nightbird Recording Studios tucked under the Sunset Marquis Hotel, that earlier in the week had recorded Queen Latifah tracks. As I stood behind that same microphone and popped the headphones on, I heard that Tom Hanks likes to drop by to record. I gawked in awe as I sat on the couch, checked out the grand piano and admired the audio panel.

The Sunset Marquis Hotel is steeped in rock history. Among  the  couple of hectares of tropical gardens, lush al fresco dining and deluxe accommodation, I noted the delicate wrought iron garden bench on which Cyndi Lauper had draped herself during a photo shoot. So much talent has stayed at the luxury hotel off Sunset strip, including Elton John, Neil Diamond, Jeff Beck and Keith Moon.

Pop group Five Seconds of Summer once revealed on social media their location while staying at The Sunset Marquis, which prides itself in protecting patrons' privacy. Amusingly, the scores of fans hoping for a glimpse of the Australian pop stars ignored (supposedly not recognising) rock legend Steve Tyler as he walked through the throng. During my stay, actor Benicio Del Toro spent a day at the villas.

The extraordinary Morrison Hotel Gallery, tucked inside The Sunset Marquis' foyer, is a place to celebrate the greats with stunning portraits. It displays (and sells) mesmerising prints of Jimi Hendrix, The Stones and so many more. Just metres away is Bar 1200 , which has welcomed countless artists, aficionados and musical personalities – all searching for a dark corner to hide in.

Other notable LA sightings include country singer Keith Urban at Tender Greens in West Hollywood, Australian actor Margot Robbie at trendy store Kitson LA, actor Emma Thompson eating dinner with her daughter at Australian-owned West Hollywood eatery The Eveleigh and  actor Jeff Goldblum enjoying the sunshine at Santa Monica Pier.

Leaving LA doesn't mean the end to celebrity spotting. There's a steady stream of famous faces (and the occasional wannabe) in and out of Los Angeles International Airport where the paparazzi attempt to earn their keep. I was munching on delicious Neil Perry fare when over my shoulder I noticed singer Robin Thicke sipping on fancy bubbly in the Qantas business lounge. Others to frequent the Qantas business/first lounges, enjoying the opportunity to wine, dine and relax in plush surrounds, have included Melissa George, Human Nature and Ellen DeGeneres. 

Places to check out (and possibly spot a celebrity):












The writer travelled courtesy of Qantas and Visit California. qantas.com.auvisitcalifornia.com.au