The large arrow-shaped sign on Wilshire Boulevard reads “caFe…free wifi” and points visitors directly to the door of a coffee shop serving habanero mochas and red bean buns. Next to the valet, a bike-rack filled with Linus bicycles sits waiting for riders. A neon Poketo sign glows from their store that's stocked with colorful contemporary designs next to the elevator. All of these elements help to tell the story of The Line Hotel in Koreatown, Los Angeles. In the few months since this Sydell Group property has opened its doors, the goal of becoming an inviting gathering place for the locals and hotel guests has led to quiet mornings of sipping coffee to vibrant evening gatherings for drinks in the expansive lobby.
CaFe—one of chef Roy Choi’s food and beverage options at The Line—flanks the lobby with a menu of coffee and tea and an eclectic variety of pastry, snacks, and congee. Towards the back of the lobby, Choi’s restaurant POT serves giant tofu hot pots, noodles, dumplings and Korean BBQ dishes. This summer, Commissary restaurant will open on the second floor pool deck in a custom-built greenhouse, and later in the year the Houston Brothers will open Speek—a nightclub in the style of a mid-century lounge.
While the lobby is the heart of the hotel, the guest rooms reveal its soul. Each room features floor-to-ceiling windows with jaw-dropping views of the north hills of Los Angeles and picturesque vistas from the southern-facing rooms. Designer Sean Knibb visited the building before a design meeting to discover these windows hidden behind large drapery. He immediately started moving around the furniture to figure out how to best highlight the view. Knibb turned the bed around to face the windows and imagined a large executive desk to give each guest the feeling that they owned the city. He then peeled back the layers of the wall to find the hidden concrete structure. The concrete 1960s Brutalist architecture bones of the building became one of the chief inspirations for the transformation into The Line Hotel.
We love the idea of a big lobby that is a living room for the neighborhood.
Together, Knibb and Sydell Group founder Andrew Zobler set out to infuse the hotel with the social makeup of LA—wanting especially to honor and represent the Korean and Latino communities in Koreatown. "It is really important to us that we be a part of the fabric of the neighborhood," says Zobler, "We love the idea of a big lobby that is a living room for the neighborhood." It's that enthusiasm that led to many collaborative partners helping to develop these hotel concepts in the middle of the bustling Koreatown. "We have a lot of subtle nods to Korea in the design and the food offerings," explains Zobler.
Zobler aimed to celebrate Los Angeles authentically as a multicultural melting pot, full of diverse neighborhoods. "We wanted to celebrate the everyday life of Los Angeles, not just the glamour of Hollywood. When you go into the lobby and look up, the ceilings are mostly made out of T-shirts. In the guest rooms there are detergent bottles repurposed as art." Throughout the hotel, the color orange has been chosen for pillows, lamps and other accent pieces because in Korea that color denotes happiness and well-being. A chair made from Mexican blankets sits in each guest room as a nod to the large Latino community in the neighborhood—and throughout Los Angeles.
When visiting The Line Hotel, it becomes evident that Zobler and Knibb’s desires are coming to fruition. The stunning vistas make it difficult to leave the room—sitting at the large desk, looking out over the city to see the panoramic views from West Hollywood to Downtown (including the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory) the feeling of owning the city is palpable. Room service orders come wrapped up in a gingham cloth with charming tin-covered dishes and hot beverages arrive in Stanley thermos mugs.
Back in the lobby, Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung run the hotel store as part of their company Poketo—offering the best of their Arts District flagship store inside The Line Hotel. Ceramics, books, jewelry, toys and more—all with a modern sensibility and pops of vibrant color—somehow appear made especially for the hotel. Also on offer are porcelain vases molded from castaway plastic bottles by Foekje Fleur van Duin, which are found in the hotel rooms and and Roy Choi’s book "L.A. Son." It's those surprises and attention to the little things—each detail seems to reflect the last—that makes a stay at The Line Hotel something very special, and very LA.
The Line Hotel is located at 3515 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90010. Visit the hotel's website to book a reservation and learn more.
Room service photo by Julie Wolfson, all other images courtesy of Adrian Gaut