Take off to a nature sanctuary
AFTERnavigating the rigours of arrival and immigration at Los Angeles airport, walking into the relaxed comfort of Inn at Playa del Rey feels like coming home. Someone else’s well-cared for, low-key luxury home, that is, where the weary traveller is made welcome and every need anticipated and met.
Located in a handsome grey and white weatherboard house, this 21-room boutique hotel has everything going for it. After just a five-minute cab ride from the airport, I amstanding in the lounge cumbreakfast room looking out over Ballona Wetlands (one of the last significant wetlands in the LA basin), its resident herons and backdrop of boats heading to the marina. I sink into a pleasantly jet-lagged reverie on the balcony, with bird books and binoculars (both provided) to hand. Arrive late afternoon and the welcome includes daily complimentary wine and canapes, and a chance to chat to fellow guests. marinas and apartments along the foreshore. Later, and closer to home, I eat delicious no-frills Italian food at Cantalini’s Restaurant, something of a local institution since the 1960s. It’s a great spot for people-watching and eavesdropping.
Myfavourite name-drop is: ‘‘Well, when I was in Paris with Bob de Niro’’ from a stranger sitting at the next table.
Back at the hotel I check out the eclectic selection of helpyourself DVDs, note the free guest workstation and internet access (there’s also Wi-Fi throughout), browse the bookshelves. I sleep well and am not aware of aircraft noise despite the airport’s proximity.
Upearly for some dawn birdwatching from the lounge’s balcony, I startle one of the receptionists. She is aproned-up and busy cooking breakfast; a half hour later an exquisite buffet is laid out and she is back behind the front desk. Nothing seems to be too much trouble for the staff and I make a note to plan a two-night stopover here next time. Onenight simply hasn’t been enough.