Everything old is new again: LA's Mayfair Hotel reopens after a spectacular renovation.

Image: Tanveer Badal

The slow but steady revival of Los Angeles’ Westlake neighborhood has, like other spots in the downtown area, sparked a slew of new hotel openings, many of the corporate variety. But on July 10, something not quite so mammoth will join their ranks, a 1926 edifice that also happens to be the newest old hotel in town. It’s called the Mayfair, a Beaux Arts-style beauty that’s just completed a stunning, four-year renovation, one with the dual aim of restoring the hotel’s Roaring ’20s glamour and creating a distinctly contemporary vibe.

Why should Houstonians care? Well, for reasons both ancient and modern, as it happens. After all, the 15-story property, which incidentally was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi River (and site of the first Oscars after-party in 1929, natch) was originally bankrolled by a pair of oil tycoons from the Lone Star State, or so we’ve been told. Flash forward to the present, though, and you’ll discover that the revamped Mayfair is no longer targeting tycoons alone. Nights at the 294-room property start at prices south of $200, a veritable bargain as LA hotels go.

Summer temperatures in La La Land tend to max out in the mid-80s, which for our money is reason enough to flee Houston’s Hades months. Furthermore, roundtrip flights in July start as low as $218. Oh, and renting a car is no longer an LA necessity, especially not downtown, where a spiffy subway system can take you to all the places on the star maps, the TV shows, and even the theme parks. Still, don’t overlook the urban core, home to some of the city’s finest attractions, many of them within walking distance of each other, from the spectacular Broad Museum and Walt Disney Concert Hall, to Grand Central Market and the Staples Center.     

Employing works by photographers Evidence and Stephen Vanasco, Mayfair artist-in-residence Kelly "Risk" Graval curated this gallery wall, part of his efforts to create a mash-up of LA past and present with designer Gulla Jónsdóttir.

Image: Tanveer Badal

The Mayfair would seem poised to become the perfect home base for travelers interested in downtown LA exploration. The hotel’s gorgeous redo—which has preserved the lobby’s signature brass fixtures, stately fluted columns and much more—is reason enough for a visit. Not content to merely offer a trip back in time, however, the property has hired Kelly “Risk” Graval to be its artist-in-residence and curator, a man who rose to prominence, you will note, courtesy his graffiti work. As such, images of gritty, modern LA will punctuate the Mayfair’s historic elements, a vivid instance of designer Gulla Jónsdóttir’s approach, and not the only one. Consider Eve American Bistro, the hotel’s restaurant, which is named for a character in a 1939 Raymond Chandler short story—he wrote it while living at the Mayfair—and helmed by the 2014 winner of Hell’s Kitchen, Scott Commings. And did we mention that there’s an actual writing room near the lobby, along with a nearby… podcast studio for guests to rent?

Clearly, the Mayfair must be seen to be believed, and that’s exactly what Houstonia intends to do when we pay the hotel a visit later this summer. Can glamour and affordability coexist? What about old Hollywood and new LA? Stay tuned.   

The revamped Mayfair Hotel officially opens July 10, 2018, and rates start at $185 per night. For information, visit mayfairla.com.

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