Each month our resident business travel expert Mark Frary writes the Heathrow Express travel guide to a major city. This month: Los Angeles
Business travel buzz
The City of Angels is a pretty good place to live in. It has the third highest GDP for any world city after Tokyo and New York, it's incredibly well connected and it always ranks highly in the various metropolitan indices – currently number six in the Global Cities Index, for example.
Most people know it for its entertainment industries. The Big Six studios are still clustered around Hollywood, but LA is also an important centre for the gaming industry. Companies such as Activision and Naughty Dog are based here and in June the city hosts the vast E3 games exhibition at the Convention Center, which attracts nearly 50,000 gamers and developers to the city.
Less well known is the fact that LA is also the biggest manufacturing centre in the US, with cars and clothing two of the most important sectors; many Asian car makers have their headquarters in areas such as Torrance and Irvine while American Apparel is based here too.
The start-up scene is a little overshadowed by Silicon Valley further up the Californian coast, but is buzzing here nonetheless. Snapchat has its HQ on Venice Beach while Tinder is based in West Hollywood.
Los Angeles is the seventh busiest route from Heathrow, with 1.35 million people passing through LAX airport each year. Six airlines fly on the route: Air New Zealand (daily), American Airlines (2x daily), British Airways (2x daily), Delta (daily), United (daily) and Virgin Atlantic (2x daily).
There is a fixed fare of $46.50 for taxi trips between LAX and downtown and a minimum fare of $15 plus $4 surcharge for trips to other destinations from the airport. Journey time is between 25 minutes and an hour depending on traffic. Regular non-stop FlyAway buses also operate between the airport and downtown (one-way fare, $8) as do a large number of shuttle buses to various points in the city.
For getting around, the Metro has a growing network of services on two subway and four light rail lines as well as countless bus services. A single is $1.75 and a day pass a reasonable $7.
If you have a break between meetings, take time to visit the astonishing Getty Center as much for the architecture and tranquil gardens as the art. The collection includes van Gogh’s Irises and works by Titian, Rembrandt and Canaletto.
Venice Beach, on the seafront 14 miles west of the city centre, has been an artistic and cultural melting pot for decades and is a great escape from the hubbub of the city. Historic mural-decorated houses cluster around the area and its system of canals. Take a walk along the pedestrian promenade, go people watching and take in some of the live performances.
LA has a thriving music scene – find out what’s happening at the LA Music Blog. There are some great venues too, including the historic amphitheatre of the Hollywood Bowl and the Palladium, but also more intimate venues such as the Fonda Theatre, the swanky Sayer Club and the Latin-focused Conga Room.
The black book
Business hotel rates in Los Angeles average $261.52 per room per night – considerably less than in San Fran or New York according to business travel management company HRG.
If you want to sample the rock’n’roll lifestyle, if only for the night, stay at the Sunset Marquis. The hotel, tucked away on a quiet street, is the place to stay for stars and even has its own recording studio in the basement. Walking in feels like walking into a luxurious Mediterranean villa complex. Rooms from $305.
If you are doing business at UCLA or in Santa Monica, or just need to be close to the airport, try the Hotel Angeleno, a distinctive circular tower right on the freeway (don’t worry; the rooms are soundproofed). Although there’s not much going on locally, the hotel is great value (from around $200) and includes free Wi-Fi, free valet parking and a complimentary wine hour.
If you are having meetings downtown or in the LA Convention Center, try the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live, with its fabulous rooftop swimming pool surrounded by skyscrapers. The rooms are spacious and the service and staff impeccable.
LA is great for rooftop hangouts. Perch is a 15th floor French bistro on South Hill Street with a great bar that offers views over downtown and a high ceilinged interior with art. Skybar, on the roof of the Mondrian hotel, is LA through and through – fresh cocktails and cool DJs by the pool while looking out over the lights.
The hottest restaurants right now are airy spaces serving New American cuisine such as Ledlow on S Main Street and Butchers and Barbers on Hollywood Boulevard.
Free Wi-Fi is available at various public locations in the city, including the airport and many public gardens and spaces.
Knowing the right people is all important in LA. Follow these social media influencers to really experience the city:
- @LA_mag, the twitter feed from LA Magazine is a firehose of information on everything to do with LA: events, food, art and more
- Love brooding skies and striking skyscrapers? Diego Amador shoots LA’s finest on Instagram
- Michael Hiltzik, Pulitzer prize winning columnist at the LA Times and prolific tweeter@hiltzikm always has interesting stuff to say.
- Matthew Kang or @mattatouille – see what he did there – is the editor of must-read local food blog Los Angeles Eater
- Harvey Levin proclaims himself a lawyer on his Twitter bio. It's true, but he’s also the editor of LA celeb gossip site TMZ.com
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