WEST HOLLYWOOD, California–The Hollywood Hills on one side, Sunset Strip on the other, and a mix of subtle rock and roll lore and simple luxuries give you Andaz West Hollywood. The hotel opened in January at the site of the former Hyatt West Hollywood, which was known as the Riot House because it was a favorite with traveling rock bands, including Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.
It is Global Hyatt Corp.’s first Andaz property in North America. The first of the new luxury brand’s hotels, Andaz Liverpool Street in East London, opened in 2007.
Andaz, which Hyatt says means “personal style” in Hindi, is all about uncomplicated service: There’s no charge for wireless in the room, breakfast or the juice in your minibar; and no one waits in line at a check-in desk.
“There’s a fluidity to it,” said Hal Goldstein, partner with architecture and interior design firm Janson Goldstein. “Anybody should be able to help you with your bag, check you in, get you a drink. There’s a real transparency.”
For the hotel’s newest incarnation, Janson Goldstein gutted the 14-story tower and added a glass pavilion, which houses a portion of the restaurant and the main bar. “A light steel structure is juxtaposed with a heavy concrete structure,” Goldstein said.
He described the pavilion’s exterior as a metal veil with a series of layers. “It’s open but also screened in.”
1950’s and 1960’s design references are mixed with the modern glass and steel structure. The screen on the pavilion, for example, brings a flash of the 1960s.
“We were really blessed with many points of reference,” Goldstein said. “The ruggedness and sexiness about Sunset, the sophistication of the Hollywood Hills, the references to rock and roll.”
The design intent “goes fairly deep into the glass pavilion we built,” Goldstein said. “We carried the concept they wanted of transparency in operations into the design.”
As part of the approval process, a portion of the project cost was required to go to public art. Outside the glass pavilion, an 11-foot hand-painted metal sculpture by Jacob Hashimoto is incorporated into the architecture.
“We wanted someone from L.A.,” Goldstein said of the artist. “His work had previously only been interior. He calls the pieces ‘kites’ and typically works in paper.”
“The bar area, which is housed in the glass pavilion, is really kind of out in the street,” Goldstein said of RH, the hotel’s signature, full-service 100-seat restaurant and bar.
A separate entrance invites the community to dine. Two communal tables and an open kitchen add to the vibrant atmosphere. The hourglass-patterned flooring echoes the stone outside the pavilion and references artist Erwin Hauer. Dining tables are made of reconstituted wood. Wine is displayed on a copper fluted wall in the private dining area. With its open feel, Goldstein called the restaurant a complete extension of the lounge.
The lounge—aka the lobby
The transparency in operations begins when guests arrive and enter the hotel lounge. There is no check-in desk; rather, guests are greeted by a host and checked in with a handheld device. Guests can go almost immediately to their room, or check in at the pink onyx bar at a more leisurely pace.
One of the most striking elements of the lobby is the backlit photograph on a glass wall. Designers worked with an artist to manipulate the photograph, which has multiple points of reference, but is based in the idea of a backlit onyx stone, Goldstein said. Polished stainless steel fins float in front of the wall, so the entire image is never seen at once. The image also reflects in the fins.
Guests can sit on custom sofas and have a drink while checking in. Tables feature bronze metal, the flooring is engineered wood and the crystal chandelier provides some vintage Hollywood glam. The custom rug features a palette of pinks, berries and golds. “It’s almost psychedelic in a way. It becomes a rock and roll moment,” Goldstein said.
In the rooftop pool area, custom daybeds are shaped so guests simply pivot their bodies to follow the sun. With the view of the Hollywood Hills and the green gardens, you feel integrated into the surroundings, Goldstein said.
The south façade of the building formerly featured outdoor balconies. They were glazed in to create sitting areas with floor-to-ceiling windows, which add an extra 80 square feet in these guestrooms. The sunroom windows have a coating to reduce solar heat gain.
“It’s a real L.A., Hollywood Hills moment to arrive and watch the news, have dinner and watch the planes come into the airport in the distance,” Goldstein said.
A bronze mirror reflects the view. Mirrored headboards fade from midnight blue-green to clear.
“We never wanted any dead ends,” Goldstein says of the reflective surfaces throughout the hotel. “We always wanted the eye to keep moving.”
The curved ceiling in the guestrooms was an important idea, he says. Because the hotel was built in the 1960s, the rooms were very box-like. “We wanted to soften and create a canopy in an architectural way. The ceiling peels down, which allows the reading light to be recessed.”
The color palette for the hotel’s 257 rooms was inspired by black-and-white and sepia-toned photography. White Corian desktops pop against dark walnut veneer.
Goldstein considers the hotel’s pavilion to be part of the L.A. landscape.
“It’s integrated in the community; it serves the community as it serves its guests,” he said. “To Hyatt’s credit, each Andaz is as much a part of the neighborhood as anything—as opposed to a global brand where that image is imported into the neighborhood.”
Andaz Wall Street (New York) is scheduled to open this spring, followed by Andaz Fifth Avenue (New York) in the fall and Andaz Austin (Texas) in 2010.