RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


A tour of the NoMad Hotel in DTLA

NoMad Hotel

Another interesting day in downtown Los Angeles. My friend KJ and I went on a private tour of the NoMad Hotel organized by Eleanor Schrader. This was particularly meaningful to me as when I was a docent with the Los Angeles Conservancy I would bring people to the building in its various incarnations.

(Just an anecdote, I remember many years ago when I was leading a tour, some movie company was shooting a film outside the building. They removed the tree that you see in the above photo. I was really mad. But as you can see, they did it carefully so they could replant it when the shoot was over, and today it is still healthy!)

NoMad Hotel

The 1920s were the glory days of downtown LA and the building known as Giannini Place, the home of the Bank of Italy, was no exception. The building morphed into the Bank of America, then attempts were made to renovate it for offices until it became derelict.

NoMad Hotel

So I am very happy this historic building has been totally renovated in the spirit of its original design to become a boutique hotel.

I popped downstairs to the restroom to discover that the vault had been converted to bathrooms!

NoMad Hotel

Click on an image to start a slide show of some photos of the hotel:

The interior of the hotel is gorgeous. But my favorite part is the roof bar and pool area with some great views of the city! Click on an image below:


NoMad Hotel

Above is the coffee shop decked out for the season.

freehand hotel

It was suggested that we should visit the sister hotel down the street for lunch, the Freehand Hotel in what was originally the 1920s Commercial Exchange Building. It’s so great to see these wonderful Beaux Artes buildings coming back to life as apartments and hotels after standing empty for decades.


The ambience of the Freehand is totally different from the NoMad. We both felt like we were in an Asian take on Yosemite! The wait staff emphasized that the chef was half Mexican, half Chinese which influenced the cuisine. We both chose the Tunisian sandwich which was a delicious take on a nicoise salad.

I love downtown Los Angeles.


A look inside Santa Monica’s Hotel Shangri-La


Hotel Shangri-La is one of my favorite Santa Monica hotels to talk about. Designed in the Streamline Moderne style of the 1930s, it stands at the corner of Ocean and Arizona Avenues overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

hotel shangri-la santa monica

According to Wikipedia, “Streamline Moderne, or Art Moderne, was a late type of Art Deco architecture and design that emerged in the 1930s. Its architectural style emphasized curving forms, long horizontal lines, and, sometimes, nautical elements.”

The nautical elements seem to have been particularly prevalent in the Los Angeles area.


A couple of Sundays ago Eleanor Schrader Schapa, an architectural and interior design historian, gave a lecture on Art Deco at this hotel. I jumped at the chance to see the interior of the building… and to hear Eleanor, of course!


Hibiscus growing outside the front door.


A view of more contemporary buildings in the next block viewed from the hotel. Fortunately the architects kept the design elements compatible with streamline moderne. At left the “Lawrence Welk building” erected in the 1960s. The building at right I believe opened in the 1980s.


Don’t you love this combination ash tray/trash can at the main entrance?

hotel shangri-la santa monica

The Shangri-La is described as a boutique hotel. All 71 rooms have a view of the ocean.

The hotel was closed for a while and reopened in October 2008 following a $30 million renovation. None of the art deco/streamline moderne elements were changed.


After Eleanor’s talk we took a stroll around the neighborhood looking at art deco architecture. But I’m not writing about that in this post. We returned to the hotel for a tour of the interior.


Here you see a good example of the nautical elements of streamline moderne. Looks like a cruise ship, doesn’t it?


View from one of the balconies of Ocean Avenue, the Pacific Ocean and Malibu in the distance. I was thinking it would be fun to stay in a room for a couple of nights and pretend to be on vacation. The cheapest room rate I could find single or double was $425 a night for October. For 50 cents round trip I can take a 20-minute bus ride from my house to this location, saving me $849.00 for the two days… Okay, let me rethink this.

hotel shangri-la santa monicaA better look at the beach with the magnificent Pacific Ocean.


View from the hotel of Arizona Avenue in downtown Santa Monica.


Kitchen area in one of the suites. If I was paying $425 a night I would need to cook my own meals… not saying this location is not worth that much, just that right I need a new dishwasher!


Dig that crazy carpet in the living area. Love it!


The furnishings are sparse but elegant… very nice.


A lovely streamline moderne architectural curve.


Original 1930s tile in the bathroom. Next time I remodel my bathroom I would seriously consider a built-in oval tub.


Nothing like wood parquet flooring… I approve of the color.


Ooh, wonderful art deco bedside lamps.


Simple furnishings… all eyes should be on the view out of that window… I’d love to see it at night with a glass of wine.


Looking down on to the hotel pool area… detail of that cabana area coming up.


More of that being on board a cruise ship feeling.

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I’m hung up on art deco light fixtures. Love this one.


If I don’t go for the built-in tub, this stand-alone is a possibility.


View from the pool area of the 1929-31 Bay Cities Title Guaranty Building that rises 13 stories above the skyline in downtown Santa Monica. An art deco classic.

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Just before stepping back inside the building is this interesting area. I believe those must be massage tables/couches. I’m feeling relaxed just looking at this space. (Sorry it’s off at an angle.)

Next time I pass the Hotel Shangri-La, which will be any day now, I will not have to wonder what is behind that beautiful streamline moderne facade.

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

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