Ten Ways to Live Like a Celeb in L.A.
Los Angeles, California, USA
Most of us can’t resist reading about what Brad and Jen and Ben have been up to lately, but we’d probably take a pass on being Hollywood celebrities ourselves. Remember that line from Queen’s “We Are The Champions”: “You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it.” Being stalked by the paparazzi, reading slanderous gossip about yourself in the tabloids, having everyone dissect your dating life-ouch!
But on your next visit to Los Angeles, you can have a taste of celebrity without the hassles of superstardom. Sure, you might have to dig a little deeper into your wallet, but the memories will linger after you wing your way home from the City of Angels.
Put this fabulous Top Ten list in your little black book, baby.
1. Limo Luxury: Integrated Transportation Services (ITS) serves Los Angeles Airport with swanky black sedans, mini coaches, and stretch limousines that’ll take you anywhere in L.A. or Orange County. Relax with the built-in TV or CD player while sampling the mini-bar. Rates start around $100. Call 1-800-487-4255 or check itslimo.com.
2. Welcome to the Hotel California: The Westin Century Plaza Hotel has hosted such US Presidents as Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush Sr. This 19-storey property surrounded by landscaped gardens is within walking distance of Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, and you get a great view of the city from your balcony. Don’t miss the Shiatsu massages at the award-winning Asian-themed Spa Mystique. Well-appointed guest rooms start at $200. Call 1-800-WESTIN-1 or visit westincenturyplaza.com.
3. Shop Shop Till You Drop: The brand-name boutiques on Rodeo Drive are an obvious draw, but also check out Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood. In the 100-to-300 block stretch, you’ll find upscale women’s attire at Lisa Kline (a favorite among the stars of Friends) and the best in trendy Italian men’s suits at Scott Hill. Two miles away, the Grove and Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax are perfect for strolling, snacking at stalls, and feasting your eyes on a choreographed fountain show, plus high-end stores from Apple Computers to Victoria’s Secret.
4. Your Table Is Ready: Spago, Wolfgang Puck’s flagship Beverly Hills restaurant, is the favorite haunt of Hollywood agents and their A-list clientele. Make reservations weeks in advance, and don’t set your heart on dining on weekends or the celeb-heavy hours of 7-9 p.m. The prices are quite reasonable (about $90 for dinner for two) and the food is superb. The beet salad layered with goat cheese and the grilled Cote de Boeuf come highly recommended. Other staples on the Austrian superstar chef’s menu include smoked salmon pizza or wiener schnitzel. Sit on the twinkle-lit patio to feel like a member of the Hollywood elite. 176 N. Canon Drive, (310) 385-0880.
5. The Universal Dream: So you hate sunburn and long lineups at theme parks? Take the VIP Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. It offers special access to otherwise-closed movie sets and sound stages, in between facing King Kong’s banana breath and the shark from “Jaws.” At $129 per person, you’re also guaranteed front-of-the-line privileges for rides like “Shrek 4-D” and the indoor “Revenge of the Mummy” rollercoaster, plus reserved seating for shows such as the “Waterworld” spectacular. Reality TV fans can check out Fear Factor Live, an audience-participation version of the NBC show with scorpions, stomach-turning drinks, and gravity-defying stunts.
6. When You Wish Upon a Star: 2005 marks Disneyland‘s 50th anniversary, and the legendary Anaheim funfair has spruced up for 18 months of celebrations. Start your high-end experience with a totally overhauled Space Mountain, featuring cutting-edge special effects for coaster fans, or go even more intergalactic in the arcade-style Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. In addition to other classic rides, there’s food, music, and shopping at the ESPN Zone Sports Arena, the House of Blues stage, and the World of Disney superstore in the Downtown Disney District. You won’t penetrate the ultra-exclusive Club 33 in New Orleans Square unless you have well-connected corporate friends, but you might spot the odd celeb wandering around.
7. Courtside, Rinkside, Beachside: Okay, you’ve got to be a true hoops believer to shell out $2,100 for an L.A Lakers courtside seat (or loaded like Jack Nicholson). But tickets from $10 to $210 will also get you in to catch Kobe & The Gang as they gear up for another championship bid. With hockey still recovering from the NHL lockout, you can score a choice L.A. Kings ticket (circa $50) more easily than during the Wayne Gretzky era. If you just want to scope out bikinis and hot bods, some of which may have appeared in your favorite TV series, Malibu Beach and Venice Beach are the places to bake.
8. Heeeere’s Jay!: If you’re a late-night TV fan, you already know the Tonight Show is as chock-a-block with celebs as anywhere you could imagine. You can score up to four tickets, depending on availability, by mailing a request with a SASE to the Burbank NBC studios (3000 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91523) at least six weeks in advance. You must include your preferred date and up to three alternative dates. You can also get tickets at the NBC box office on the day of the show (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), but arrive early, and do the same when lining up pre-show in the afternoon (doors at 4, taping at 5) to make sure you get in. The 400-seat studio is surprisingly small inside, but that’s because host Jay Leno does a great job of making it feel like his living room.
9. A Kodak Moment: With $10,000 to blow, you can rent the magnificent venue that’s hosted the Academy Awards since 2001. If you’re just a regular Oscar buff, take a guided tour of the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland. The 3,300-seat facility gleams with cherry wood banisters and Italian glass, and its design was inspired by the Capitol in Rome. You’ll get a kick out of details like seeing a 24-karat gold Oscar statuette up close or learning that Harrison Ford sat in Seat 8, Row A in 2003. Tours run daily from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (to 4:30 p.m. between June 1 and August 31), $15 for adults and $10 for kids and seniors.
10. Roll Out the Red Carpet: Fans used to cluster outside the Oscars for a glimpse of their favorite stars, but that’s tough to do now due to tight security. Want a surefire thing? Pony up between $1,099 and $1,899 for a two-night stay at the Beverly Hilton during the January 2006 Golden Globe Awards. You’ll receive an assigned seat in the fan bleachers and a gift bag from the title sponsor to divert you while you await the red carpet arrivals. It’s a two-hour spectacle, with the first half devoted mainly to TV starlets and second-tier big-screen “names,” while your Leos and Halles make their grand entrances closer to show time. Bring your camera, wave to your faves, and prepare to be awed by the movie and TV knowledge of the fans around you. Call the Beverly Hilton at (310) 274-7777 for booking info.