Sunday, January 27, 2013

Where to Be Merry: The Incredible Rooftop Experience @ The Hotel Wilshire

The Merriment: A rooftop filled with weekend brunches, a pool, lounge and restaurant; a hotel that’s LEED-certified with superb guest rooms and suites

The Location: Mid-Wilshire

The Vibes: Upscale and modern, yet still very chill and low-key

Good for: When you want to “wow” someone with an authentic “L.A.” experience or when you want a quick weekend getaway, without leaving the city

When-To-Go: Weekends, evenings and of course, 24 hours if you plan to stay there

The $ Factor: Cocktails are about $12; Entrees (depending on when you go) range from around $10-$30; and room rates are $225-$1200

The 4-1-1: The hotel recently celebrated quite a few milestones. Not only did it celebrate its one-year anniversary and become LEED-certified (yay for environmentally-conscious boutique hotels!), but it also joined the Kimpton Hotel family, which also includes Hotel Palomar in Westwood

I’ll Be Back…: To lounge by the pool with a good book and a few endless mimosas 

L.A. doesn’t have a shortage of great rooftops to enjoy, to suit all tastes and expectations. But by far, my favorite right now is the rooftop at The Hotel Wilshire. It’s my getaway of choice that I’ve been ranting and raving about to everyone.

The biggest seller, in my humble opinion, is the aesthetics. An uninterrupted sweeping view of the city, from the West Hollywood Hills to downtown L.A. is right before your eyes, immediately after exiting the elevator. This view literally takes my breath away each and every time I visit. The space itself is very sleek, with clean lines and edges, and contrasts of dark woods and bright colors. The area has a restaurant/bar called The Roof on Wilshire, a small pool surrounded by dining tables with chairs and a few booths, and a sunken-in lounge area featuring an impressive fire pit. The rooftop is on the smaller side, so it feels inviting and intimate, especially under such an expansive sky. While it can get packed, it’s never too, too cramped or crowded. There’s always enough room to spread out and chill.

You might expect a high-end place like this to be snobbish or filled with a snooty clientele, but what I love is that it’s quite the opposite. It’s relaxed and unpretentious; everyone is all about enjoying themselves and the ambiance.

I also love that there are so, so many ways to enjoy the rooftop. 

First, there’s the pool area. I’ve never seen anyone dive right into the pool – they’ve only put a foot or two inside (maybe I’ve gone at the wrong time?). But, I’ve seen many lounge by it, and you don’t have to be a hotel guest or pay any fees to do so. One Sunday morning, I posted up on a lounge chair, ordered a carafe of endless mimosas and read a book for a couple of hours. It definitely turned my day a funday.

The Roof on Wilshire serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and an amazing weekend brunch. I haven’t had a bad meal – or cocktail – here, and I’ve been for brunch, lunch, appetizers and dinner. The Wilshire Grilled Cheese is one of their very popular dishes, with thick Gruyere, a sweet marmalade and roasted peppers between two lightly toasted sourdough bread slices. I also highly recommend something called a Pancake Lasagna (pictured below). It’s three layers thick of fluffy pancakes, piping hot eggs and flavorful sausage soaked in syrup, served during the weekend brunch. 

The rooftop is also great place in the evening, watching the sunset, or at night, by the fire pit. While it can get crowded, it doesn’t feel overly crowded, and it’s easy to have a quiet conversation over a few cocktails. Speaking of cocktails, this past fall, I was loving their mules (pictured to the left), made with house-made ginger beer and a two-day preparation process. It looks like they have a list of winter drinks now, so try one of those for me, and let me know what you think.

The last thing I’ll add about The Hotel Wilshire is that I definitely enjoy their rooms. Simplistically modest and understated, they cater to both the savvy leisure traveler and to the renaissance business traveler, with the functional necessities – cleanliness, comfy bed, ample space – and also added touches, like fluffy robes, iPod docking stations and large flat screen TVs. Plus, the location is only minutes away from business centers like Century City, and from attractions like Museum Row, scores of restaurants and bars and the Miracle Mile area. It’s easy to walk to many places and to catch public transportation.

I honestly don’t think there’s ever a bad time to visit The Hotel Wilshire, whether that’s for a weekend brunch, an evening of cocktails or a mini-weekend getaway. I guarantee you’ll love the rooms and the rooftop – there’s just so much to see and do. I’ll catch you there soon!

For More Information:
The Hotel Wilshire; Facebook

Sunday, January 20, 2013

And Where Do You “Where To?”: FREE Giveaway/Contest Winner

In honor of my newest “Where To Travel,” blog section, last Sunday I asked the following question to enter to win some great swag from #Eventbrite LA and #ThreePeasProductionLLC:
If you could travel to one place in 2013, where would it be?
Feel free to share why you want to go there and photos of the location,
although optional, are always welcomed.

Now, before I announce the lucky winner (selected at random) I just have to say, I was completely floored by all the fantastic responses! Forget typical beach and European vacays; people had plans to travel to so many places off the beaten track. And the reasons behind why they wanted to go there were so diverse, inspirational, fun and at times, even touching.

And before I announce the winner, let me just recap what the winner will win:

Courtesy of Eventbrite LA:
-- and --

Courtesy of Three Peas Production, LLC:

  • Two tickets to the new play "The Build UP, " a unique, intimate, interactive experience on Thursday, Jan. 24th at a private venue in Hollywood
And one more thing before I announce the winner, I’d like to thank everyone who participated -  I hope that each and every person is able to make it to his/her travel destination this year!!

Read entries below:

Alaia: “There are many places I want travel to this year (hopefully it will be a big travel year for me). The place I'm most excited about going to is Puerto Rico - the plan is to attend an amazing women's retreat there. I think it would be super fun!”

Anonymous: “I want to go back to Maui Hawaii. Enjoy the water falls and good food. Perfect place for relaxation and nature.”

“I would love to travel to Bora Bora. Staying in an overwater bungalow has been at the top of my list for quite a long time!”

@Chhchh: “I'd love to go to Chile - - such great food and wine!”


@Creque:Santorini, Greece... specifically in an infinity pool overlooking the Sea!”

@Emerald Embroidery:
“Back to Roatan or Honduras and I'd like to do it with $1 million to pay for the children to go to school.”

Emma:Prague! I regrettably missed it on my last Eurotrip and it's been at the top of my list since.”

@gourmetpigs: Cambodia! I've always wanted to see Angkor Wat!”

Joy Liani: “Back to Hawaii, I'm out!!”

@lwrocks: Ibiza!”

Marceia: Dubai

MR: “id travel to the moon. and since i dont have enough money yet to do so, id go to spain."

MRSSEXYONE: paris!!!! Time to get my passport.”

Nancy: “I was born in Guatemala, came when I was 13. And been here ever since !! And love it here but with my mom we use to go every year to visit the rest of the family !! I am now 45 and mom past away 3 years ago a month after she died of cancer my daughter had a stroke ( she was only 15 and lost her kidneys but before that a year my son develop schizophrenia and they did not notice by the time they did it was to late he jump a bridge, because he heard voices that he could fly , he survived but it's Been a long 6 years total of hospitals, pain tears finally we got a little brake so hopefully this year we can go back to Guatemala and take a vacation from all of this!!”

Nicola: "This year I'm dying to go to Japan. Cherry blossom festivals and Harajuku girl gawking - sounds perfect to me."

Nicole: "The one place I plan on traveling to in 2013 is Tanzania. I'm training to hike to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro to prove that people like me (African-American women) can accomplish anything they put their mind to. I hope to inspire other people to travel to Tanzania and hike Africa's tallest mountain so that when I Google images of Mt. Kilimanjaro I can see more women of color conquering this peak!"

Roderick: Cuba

Serena: “I would love to visit Jamaica in 2013! I've never been and the thought of white sandy beaches, jerk chicken and Caribbean music makes me what to buy my ticket today. My friends have all visited and only have amazing stories to share when they return. It's definitely on my list of must see destinations!”

@soliddiscjockey: “I would take the family and travel to the Isla de Cozumel, Mexico


Tamyah: “I would travel to New York.”

@Thegoddesstyle: “I would love to travel to Brazil and play fresco ball on the beach, have tasty eats, and hi-5 everyone I meet!”

The Hot One: “This year, I would love to go to Europe...or New York. I miss my friends there :)”

@TheWorkoutGirl: “A. Bali!!!!”

@WinewithoutBS: “A: Azerbaijan, looked amazing during the Eurovision song contest & I'd be the only person I know whose been there! :)”

@YawpLA: “If I could travel anywhere this year, I would take a small boat expedition down to Antarctica!”

And finally, the moment we've all been waiting for: the winner (selected randomly) is…

“I'd love to visit Napa Valley! I've never been and plan on going for my 30th b-day!


Thanks to everyone who participated, and look out for another giveaway/contest soon!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

And Where Do You “Where To?”: Giveaway #9

In honor of my newest “Where To Travel,” blog section, I'm asking this:

If you could travel to one place in 2013, where would it be?
Feel free to share why you want to go there and photos of the location,
although optional, are always welcomed.

While I may not be able to offer you two round-trip airline tickets to your destination of choice,
what I can offer are the following fabulous prizes:

Courtesy of Eventbrite LA:
-- and --

Courtesy of Three Peas Production, LLC:

  • Two tickets to the new play "The Build UP, " a unique, intimate, interactive experience on Thursday, Jan. 24th at a private venue in Hollywood
All answers can be left in the comment box below, emailed to or tweeted to @WilsonsGuide on Twitter.

One lucky winner will be randomly selected and announced on next Sunday, January 20th, so check back then to see who’s won.

Since this contest only runs for a week, what are you waiting for?? Hurry and enter! Can’t wait to hear where you want to travel and to give these great prizes away – best of luck!

A very big THANKS to Eventbrite LA and Three Peas Production LLC for providing the giveaway prizes!

Eventbrite is an online service that people everywhere use to create, share and join any event imaginable. We enable event creation, promotion and ticket sales. We help people discover events that match their passions. And we let everyone share the events they're creating or joining, bringing more people together around the world.

Leila Najafi is the LA Marketing Manager with Eventbrite and your go-to gal for what's happening in the City of Angels.

To be in the know about LA events, you can subscribe to the BriteLA newsletter here and/or follow Leila on Twitter @BriteLA or Facebook.

Conceived by siblings, Peppur, Darnell and Shakir Chambers, Three Peas has set out to present entertainment that stems from each of their sensibilities: Music, Theater and Film.

Three Peas germinated due to the family knowing they needed their own production company to produce not only the events they created, but to nurture the talents of other artists with whom they'd come into contact over the years. Their overall goal is to produce feature films, unique live theatrical stage shows and live concerts. 

Thus far, they've produced "Lights, Camera, Action" (an artist showcase series); "Reparations" (a short film); and now "The Build UP" (a site-specific play that ends in a musical performance).

For more information, visit their website and their Facebook page

The Build UP is a theatrical piece that is part play and part musical performance. The story, to be performed by five main actors in an LA mansion/private home known as “The Castle,” is about a female filmmaker, KALIEGH who is feeling neglected both by her film career and her husband CHRISTOPHE as he tries to find himself in his new career as a music manager after being downsized. As a result, she confides in a cute plumber who happens to come for a house call. The Build UP is an intimate, yet powerful performance that will literally take place in the kitchen, the living room, the upstairs bedroom and finally the roof top where the story Builds UP to a climax that ends in Christophe’s band performing live. The audience will be up-close and personal with the actors and move from room to room. The audience will also have the opportunity to stay in one room with the actors or follow the story to another room (think: “MadLibs”!)


· Contest goes until next Saturday, January 19th, 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner will be announced on the #WilsonsGuide blog on Sunday, January 20th.

· This giveaway/contest/drawing/competition is free and open to anyone over 21 years of age.

·All received entries may be potentially retweeted and/or posted on at a later date. If an entry is posted and/or retweeted, only the entrant’s received first name, nickname or Twitter username will be posted in conjunction with the entry.

· Once selected, winner will be given specific instructions on how s/he will receive the swag bag and event tickets (Please note: winner will need to provide his/her full name, email address, mailing address (to send sweatshirt and duffel bag) and sweatshirt size in order to receive the prizes.

· For “The Build UP,” a complimentary shuttle will provide access to the venue. More details can be found here.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Where to Eat: Seafood in a Bag @ The Boiling Crab

The Eats: Seafood…in a bag!

The Location: Four in the Greater L.A. region: Koreatown, Rowland Heights and two locations in Alhambra; this post is about the Alhambra Main location

The Vibes: Very, very casual

Good for: An unrivaled way to eat your seafood

With-Whom-To-Go: Groups of friends, dates, the kiddies, out-of-towners; anyone who wants to experience food in a completely different way

The $ Factor: $$; While it’s about $10 per entrée, the real goods – the seafood – are marketprice by the pound, so it all depends how much you order

The 4-1-1:
I would highly advise opting for the bib and not wearing clothes that you care about; it can get messy

I’ll Be Back…: For those incredible King Crab Legs (pictured above)

Typically, I don’t drive an hour to go to a restaurant, nor do I wait an hour to be seated. And I tend to eat my food with plates and forks and knives, and not with a big, plastic bib draped around my neck.

But I will make the exception to my rules for The Boiling Crab, a lively eatery way, way out in Alhambra that’s always packed to the brim with customers and delicious seafood with a Southern, Cajun flair.

The Boiling Crab gets major props for two major reasons:
for the presentation of its food and for the food itself.

Upon arriving, waiters hand out bibs and roll out gigantic pieces of butcher paper to cover your table. The orders of crab, shrimp, crawfish and other seafood items come by the pound in bags, soaked in spices of your choice: Rajun Cajun, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Butter or The Whole Sha-Bang, which is a mixture of the other three flavors.

Dump the bag on the table and dig right in – with your fingers. Peel that shrimp, crack that crab, suck that crawfish. Fingers become stained with seasonings, hundreds of napkins are used and remnants get smeared on cheeks and chins. And, it’s worth it.

The real kicker here though, is the food itself. Everything is seasoned so well, from the seafood to the fried platters, like the catfish and Cajun fries in the Fried Catfish Basket (pictured below). Ordering a bag of the King Crab Legs is a must (those bad boys are big!) along with the Cajun fries. Also order a cup of gumbo. It’s some of the best gumbo I’ve had outside of New Orleans. And best of all, everything comes in large portions and is easily shareable.

So the next time you’re in the mood to toss out the forks and pick up the bib, I highly recommend trekking out to The Boiling Crab. Order the seafood and let me know what you think.

See you there soon!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Miss Wilson’s Words of Wisdom: Top 12 of 2012

2012 certainly had its share of newsworthy events…

and #WilsonsGuide had its share of newsworthy happenings, too!

Take a trip down memory lane with my Top 12 of 2012 “Where To” List and make note of places you visited, wish you visited, or just might need to visit in the New Year!

#12) Opposite L.A. Thursdays was one of those amazing functions that took place in Hollywood, but was “opposite” of Hollywood in every sense of the word. No long lines, no tyrannical bouncers, no crazy cover charges…just a teeny tiny neighborhood dive bar, strong drinks and a good dose of R&B, hip-hop and old school hits. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the last Thursday of every month, but sadly, this function shut its doors early fall, so we’ll have to relive those good times in our memories…


#11) The Passport to Prana Yoga card launched, offering yoga enthusiasts a novel way to experience this beneficial practice. The $30 card gives access to more than 30 yoga studios in the L.A. area – an irresistible bargain, considering that one yoga class could easily cost $20. Whether in search for an introduction into the discipline or for a home studio, grabbing this passport was a great way to sample yoga studios, from Santa Monica to Pasadena. Fortunately, since the card is valid for 12 months from the date that it’s activated, it can still be enjoyed in 2013, just as it was in 2012. 

#10) Produce-driven dishes at unsuspecting locations were also big this year. Sure it’s no surprise to find leafy vegetables at farmer’s markets or premium salad bars, but at delicatessens? Or gastro pubs? Two specific places caught my attention – Freddy Smalls and UMAMIcatessen for not only catering to our insatiable appetites for libations and calorie-rich foods, but for also making sure we got our daily servings of fruits and veggies by offering dishes with beets, Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, squash and more.

#9) Seven Inspirational Interviews ensured we didn’t have a shortage of motivation. Actors, singers, entrepreneurs, fashion designers, magazine editors and rising moguls shared their secrets of success, and of course, where they “where to” in L.A. and around the world. Several of the noteworthy people who stopped by include: actress Brely Evans (pictured below), singer Donnie McClurkin (pictured below), fashion designer Luka, entrepreneur and caterer Aleya Desne and a few celebs during the Oscars weekend and the BET Awards weekend.

#8) Guest Bloggers – The aforementioned weren’t the only ones who made a mark on the #WilsonsGuide blog; for the first time ever, two guest bloggers made spectacular contributions. Brook Turner, a rising filmmaker and creator of a very uplifting website called Thankful for a Million and fashion designer/author Michael Ferrera both wrote about their favorite “where to” destinations in the city. 

#7) Perch, a new Downtown lounge impressed many of us all year long. While many restaurants struggle in their first couple of years in operation and may even go under, this rooftop lounge that opened in 2011 had an extremely successful year. Perch was a popular destination not only for its Parisian themed décor, drinks and food, but also for its killer view of downtown L.A. There aren’t too many places that match its charm and its panoramic sights.

#6) Good ole dependable – and affordable – drinking holes also still proved they shouldn’t be forgotten in favor of newer establishments. Damon’s Steak House in Glendale proved just why it had been around for more than 80 years; for its $5 Mai Tais and Chi Chis. With this whole Fiscal Cliff scare, I most certainly felt it critical to make mention of one place that’s been making strong, delicious – and cheap – drinks since forever.

#5) While in some cities, locals wouldn’t be caught dead in hotel bars, quintessential L.A. hotels proved that they’re not only for out-of-towners, offering a great ambiance and creative thirst quenchers, like the sub-zero martini from Shade Hotel (pictured below) and the Apropos from Hotel Shangrila (pictured below).

#4) Biking in L.A. is a lot more relaxing and calming that driving in L.A. I found this out when earlier in the year, I met the owners of a very fun, tour guide company, Bikes and Hikes LA. I discovered a great new way to explore the city: on a bike. Forget a car, forget the big red double-decker bus – this tour is a great way to not only see various neighborhoods like Larchmont Village and the Fairfax district, but to also get informative and entertaining facts about them.


#3) Weekend Brunches are kind of a big deal – as big as the entertainment industry, the beaches and the 405 on a Friday night. Paying homage to an activity that many Angelenos partake in quite frequently, I spent a good portion of the spring and summer on a valiant quest to find those brunches that offered unique experiences. My search led me to places like Luca on Sunset, which offers inexpensive yet fresh, organic items in a casual atmosphere, and to Sunny Spot in Venice, which colorfully blends of snippets of Caribbean, Korean and American cultures into its tasty dishes.

 #2) Yamashiro may have been around for decades, but its Happy Hour just launched in October. It's a great program, too, with $4-$6 small plates, especially considering that normal dinner prices stretch well into the $40-$60 range. Add a touch of live music into the mix, and Yamashiro's lounge is now not only a dinner destination; it's a happy hour one as well.

#1) Where to Travel – The number one happening on the  #WilsonsGuide blog for the year was the introduction of a new section, “Where to Travel.” We went out of the city into the beautiful tropics of Hawaii, recommending Mama’s Fish House. But we didn’t stop there; we took it internationally to France, featuring a quaint droguerie in Montpellier. Watch out, world! We're not only covering L.A.  – we’re moving globally, too!

2012 was a great year, but 2013 will be even better. 

As always, there will be weekly posts of where to eat, drink and be merry, so look out for them, and stay tuned. 

See you in the New Year!