West Hollywood is a gay mecca. It isn’t technically part of the city of Los Angeles, although it’s often considered to be a suburb. It’s just a 15-minute drive from West Hollywood to downtown Los Angeles.
The city of LA is big and quite spread out. Hiring a car is certainly a good idea. Staying in West Hollywood (WeHo) is also a good bet. It’s a great base from which to explore the various highlights of Los Angeles County and LA itself.
Remaining within the confines of West Hollywood, you’ll find no shortage of things to do. This is the world’s entertainment capital.
West Hollywood has one of the world’s best gay scenes. It’s estimated that 40% of the population is LGBT+. You’d have to head to Palm Springs to find a higher percentage of LGBT+ residents.
The Abbey is the most famous gay bar in West Hollywood. It’s probably the definitive gay bar in the whole Los Angeles area. As this is very much a city of appearances, you’ll see some serious eye candy here. It’s all about seeing and being seen in LA. The gay scene is no different. The Abbey is spread over multiple floors. You can head there for lunch in the afternoon, have a cocktail in the evening and then dance the night away. Gay nights out in West Hollywood usually begin or end here.
This is Hollywood. So many dreams have been made and crushed here. The movies helped to make us and shape the culture we live in. The Chateau Marmont is a hotel that embodies the spirit of Hollywood. Located on Sunset Boulevard, it opened in 1929 and it soon became notorious. It became the stomping ground of the Hollywood elite, especially if they were up to no good. From Greta Garbo to Britney Spears, the Chateau Marmont has hosted the biggest stars and the wildest parties.
If walls could talk this hotel would have the best stories. “If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont,” said Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures. You can stay at the Chateau Marmont if you have deep pockets. Failing that, you can always pop over for a cocktail and pretend you’re staying there.
This is not your average Comedy Store. Some of the biggest stars in comedy drop by and do a set at the Comedy Store in WeHo. This place is a temple to comedy. There are three stages. You’ll see a diverse array of performers every night of the week. Sometimes the tumbleweed will tumble painfully slowly, but sometimes you’ll find yourself watching the next big thing in American comedy. In Hollywood, most people are linked to showbiz in some way. If you tell a good joke in LA, someone will probably say “You should do comedy.” It’s all about hitting the big time.
Stroll along the Sunset Strip
You’ll find some of the most glamorous people in the world here. Sunset Boulevard stretches for 1.6 miles. There are so many cocktail bars, restaurants and historic hotels to check out. As well as glamour, you’ll find a good dose of sleaze. It really depends what you’re looking for. One of the things that makes WeHo so exciting is the sense that you can find almost anything.
Gentrification is wiping out many of WeHo’s shadier establishments. But just like London’s Soho, however rich WeHo becomes, it will always retain an edge of danger (of the good variety) and a huge LGBT+ population.
You have to know your Herstory and this is the best place to discover it. The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives is the largest archive of LGBT+ history on the planet. If you’re looking to research LGBT+ history, you won’t find a better resource. But you don’t need to be an academic to visit the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives. It hosts regular events and exhibits exploring all aspects of queer history.
The largest independent book store in Hollywood and one of the largest in America. You’ll find big piles of books and magazines wherever you look. Expect popular books and also rare finds. Naturally, much of the material on offer was written by authors linked to Hollywood. This is a great place to get a bit of respite from all the drama and excitement of West Hollywood.