REVIEW: The Roosevelt – A Hollywood Staple

img_0080 (1)

The Roosevelt – I have been to this hotel many times, because it’s the center of Hollywood when it comes to hotels.  Drop by this place any random weekend and there’s an event happening, the pool is packed with fun-loving people, and the bars are flowing.

Located on Hollywood Blvd where the stars line the sidewalk and where movie premiers happen (across the street), you could not choose a better location if what you wanted to experience is what Hollywood has to offer.

This hotel is especially unique because of its storied history.  It, and the Chateau Marmont, are two of the most fabled establishments in Hollywoodland.  That saying “if the walls could talk” would result in quite a dialogue at this property.

The service is decent, but not quite 5-star, but that’s not why you visit the Roosevelt.  You visit the Roosevelt because you want to be part of the “scene” and you want the hip, cool, always in fashion experience of being there.

Hollywood Blvd, where stars are literally made (on the sidewalk)

One of the best things about this hotel is that if you’re staying there, there’s always something to do.  There’s a bowling alley within a bar upstairs, there’s a very cool lounge in the lobby where celebrities do their thing, there’s always a pool party happening at Tropicana Bar, and if that’s still not enough for you, just step out the front doors and watch yourself end up on Hollywood Blvd.

Did I mention that In-n-Out Burgers, the fabled California burger franchise, is also less than two blocks away?

If you are looking for a great time, have some youth in you, and want to experience Los Angeles via the Hollywood route – there really is no better place than the Roosevelt.

The rooms are constantly being remodeled – partying hard causes lots of wear and tear, but they do a good job of keeping it clean and fresh

The Tropicana Pool is THE place to hangout.  Sure there have been cooler spots, but no place has held its own for so many years


  • Location doesnt get better than this for Hollywood
  • There’s lots to do within the hotel
  • It’s got a lot of history, and a very cool vibe about it


  • If you’re looking for ultimate luxury, look elsewhere
  • The rooms see a lot of use, so it can sometimes be hit or miss as to whether your room will be remodeled or touched-up


  • The best rooms are the ones near the pool at the pool level.  Also if you book through Magellan they will give you a discount every time and usually a free room upgrade.  Highly recommend going through them!



  • Definitely check out In-n-Out burger if you’ve never been.  This is quintessential for a California (or LA) visit
  • I highly recommend visiting Sugarfish Sushi.  There’s lots of great sushi in Los Angeles, but you CANNOT beat the price to quality ratio here.  I’ve been to $500/head places like Urasawa which are great but Sugarfish gives them a run for their money



REVIEW: Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale


This hotel feels like it should be set in the 60’s.  Everything from the architecture to the hip decor makes this hotel a choice that’s not normal.  When you walk in you notice the flamboyant colors, the biomorphic shapes and shag carpet and wax vinyl surfaces.

Lets jus say that laminate floors are not the standard at the Ritz, but hey, this place is cooool

You choose the Valley Ho because you want something different, but at the end of the day you still want a bit of luxury and coddling.

The lobby is the focal point of this place, part of it is indoors and part of it is outdoors.  The location is fantastic, just a few minutes by foot to the local art galleries and restaurants in the Scottsdale area.  This is always my go to whenever I come to Scottsdale.  The restaurant has great all american cuisine and I recommend it for the Sunday brunch.

You can’t look around at this place and not crack a smile – because it feels like you just woke up and Nixon is about to pop on TV

There are certainly other nicer hotels in the area, the W Scottsdale or further options if you’re there for the golfing, but there really is nothing else like the Hotel Valley Ho.  And heck, at the least it’s fun to say.

Bet you haven’t been to a mid-century pool since…well, mid-century


  • Fun lobby and vibe – its super hip
  • The showers are wide and open and the bathrooms and floorpans feel modern and different from anything else you’d see in the luxury category
  • There’s really not much else quite like it in the area, especially walking distance to Scottsdale downtown shops and restaurants


  • It’s not a traditional luxury hotel
  • The service is not quite that of a 4-5 star hotel, but somehow it just works with the laidback vibe
  • The cuisine is all americana but if you want something different there’s not a lot of options


  • Check out the cool second story gym with its private yoga room which opens up to the pool
  • The breakfast burrito on the menu is definitely what you want, I promise


  • If you love good pizza (and who doesnt?), definitely visit Sauce Pizza & Wine.  It’s one of my favorite pizza restaurants in the nation (and that includes comparison to places like Lou Malnati’s in Chicago or top NY pizza joints).  Yes it’s that good, and they have a great selection of beers and wines!

REVIEW: The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel


This one’s a keeper – as they say.  The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel is a mixture of old-world elegance and contemporary flair.  The hotel is large but the intimate spaces hidden within it make it feel homey and comforting rather than barren and excessive.

Ritz Laguna000621-23-freeform-pool
The Spanish villa look of the Ritz in Laguna gives it some old-world charm

The minute you walk in you’re wowed by the depth of the hallway.  It has a very similar feel to the Monarch Beach Resort in this respect, but with slightly lower ceilings which makes this hotel the perfect accessory for a romantic getaway.

The service here is impeccable, at the top of its class for Ritz-Carlton’s, and the lobby bar here is a cool place to hang out.  I had a chance to check out two of the restaurants here, EnoSteak and Raya and highly recommend both of them.  Raya’s floor to ceiling glass portals overlook the Pacific Coast and it’s a dazzling place to have breakfast at a leisurely pace.  Enosteak is the quintessential martini and ribeye spot which serves its purpose in this type of resort.

The rooms themselves are on the smaller side, and are not as new as the The Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point but they are definitely still clean and luxurious.  This is yet another hotel built with weddings in mind and as such there are breathtaking vistas throughout.

I recommend checking out The Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point and doing a spot compare between the two when booking to see which one is priced better during your stay as they both are comparable hotels, with the Ritz possibly edging on service, but slightly older in room quality.


  • Feels intimate yet maintains that large resort feel
  • The pool area is well thought out to include private secludes so that not everyone is staring at each other when you’re laying out
  • The service is impeccable and the dining establishments at this hotel are above average


  • It could use some room refreshes


  • Check out the view at 180 Blu while enjoying a drink.  It’s easy to miss this part of the hotel


  • Officially the second smallest church in the world, St Francis By the Sea is a pretty cool place to visit.  Plus it’s on the Guinness Book of World Records!
  • This one’s been written about but if you want to get around and you don’t want to hire an uber. Check out the Laguna Beach Trolley.  It’s fun to use it as a method of hopping around town and checking out the sights.