There is a particular art to catching stars around Hollywood, but first and foremost is not to be star-struck when you do happen across one, and chances are that in this town, you most likely will.
Indeed, as I discovered, the trick is to pretend you have not noticed them at all.
Stars materialise in the most unlikely of places. Like during an elevator ride in the fabled Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard last week when I was heading to inspect the vast penthouse suite after receiving a last-minute invitation.
We shared the elevator with one of the hotel’s ever-so-discreet maids who was hand-delivering a pair of freshly laundered jeans – neatly folded atop a silver tray.
When we arrived at her floor a colleague enquired as to her cargo, to which she responded: “I have Mr Stiller’s jeans.”
And before you know it, standing in front of me by the lift was Hollywood A-lister, actor and film maker Ben Stiller, draped in a bath robe and graciously taking his celebrity denim before disappearing into his suite.
“Oh, we get them all the time ... they are so used to having people do things for them, they really don’t know any other way. For us it’s about treating them with respect, allowing them to have the space to just be themselves without all the fanfare,” a waiter in the restaurant later explained to me.
But of course that doesn’t mean one should refrain from dropping names like confetti.
Snuggling into the plush velvet sofa in the Chateau’s penthouse, the night manager – who shall remain nameless – tells me: “Lady Gaga practically lived here – they filmed scenes from A Star Is Born right over there, that’s where she and Bradley kissed ... in the film ... overlooking Sunset Boulevard. She has stayed here a few times, she prefers the penthouse and we treat her just the same as anyone else. Howard Hughes lived here for over a year.”
The gossip columnist in me is fixated on what the penthouse walls have seen, especially given all the speculation about Gaga and Cooper’s relationship status since their Oscars performance.
I’ll admit it, the thought of swab testing every surface crossed my mind.
Then I hear about the time Lindsay Lohan racked up a $50,000 bill at the hotel but was not showing any inclination to pay it. At one point her hapless assistant was darting between cars on Sunset Boulevard to an ATM across the road to withdraw cash to pay for the room.
“It was disaster,” the manager says.
In the end hotel staff packed up Lohan’s belongings and she left, earning herself a spot on the Chateau’s dreaded “black list” ever since.
Across town at The Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, I almost collided with none other than David Beckham walking near the pool. I later discovered Becks was on his way to a secret tattoo parlour, Dr Woo’s, tucked away inside the historic establishment. The Hollywood Roosevelt was the site of the first ever Academy Awards, where stars paid $5 a ticket and already knew who had won what before they arrived, the presentation ceremony taking all of 20 minutes.
Beckham is in good company at The Hollywood Roosevelt. Dr Woo, aka Brian Woo, also inks Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevigne, Sarah Hyland and Frances Bean Cobain.
Channel Nine correspondent Rob Penfold is one Australian who knows Los Angeles better than most, having been the US West Coast chief correspondent for four decades.
Campbelltown-born Penfold and his Australian wife Shar have raised three children in LA and plan to spend the rest of their days there, having bought a house in the magnificent Hancock Park gated community, home to the most extraordinary mansions built by Hollywood’s silent movie stars.
“We bought the smallest house on the block,” Penfold jokes. “When we first came here, you could go to Spago’s or the Brown Derby and you would end up sitting at a table next to Liz Taylor. People pretty much left them alone, but times have changed.
“Today everyone has an iPhone and they want to take selfies with the stars ... so rarely do they go out in public,” Penfold laments.
But they do go out.
“When our kids went to Brentwood School, I would turn up to parent-teacher night and see the other dads, which included Jack Nicholson and Arnold Schwarzenegger,” Penfold tells me as we cruise the streets of his neighbourhood.
“That’s Muhammad Ali’s old place over there ... our daughter’s friend Dakota Johnson lived there with her parents Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith."
Andrew Hornery travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Visit California www.visitcalifornia.com/au