Step Inside Kelly Wearstler’s Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel, a Lush Oasis Filled With Surprises

“While the interiors definitely have an L.A. attitude, they are also very worldly and global, which is not unlike the city,” says Wearstler, whose standard guest rooms in charcoals, mauves, and warm metals feature works only by nearby artists, alongside custom-designed furniture and decor. Specialty suites highlight predominantly vintage pieces. Wearstler’s signature of mixing vintage with contemporary “is manifested through vintage furnishings such as hand-carved chairs from Mexico, and vintage Turkish, Moroccan, and handcrafted rugs,” she says. As is the Proper way, there is an exceptional number of plants throughout.

Guest rooms are defined by warm palettes and a mix of pieces from local makers and Wearstler herself.

Photo: The Ingalls

This is especially true in Caldo Verde, one of a couple of food and beverage concepts infused with Portuguese, Moorish, Spanish, and Mexican influences—nodding to Downtown L.A.’s past—by James Beard Award–winning chef Suzanne Goin and restauranteur Caroline Styne. Their grand ground-floor restaurant is joined by a forthcoming lofty pink lounge dubbed Dalia and Cara Cara, the open-air bar and restaurant on the stunning panoramic rooftop.

Intimate lounge-y vignettes dot the perimeter of that space, and a circular fire pit at one corner seems to reign over all of Downtown. “The somewhat unusual design of the swimming pool—a raised deck, lots of colorful tile patterns and textures, a multitude of lush plantings—[is] intended to create the impression of a large fountain,” Wearstler says, “a unique concept that elevates the rooftop experience.” And elevate it does. From the pool with commanding views over Broadway corridor and throughout the striking yet serene property, the feeling is more lush oasis than city hotel.

The building was formerly a private club and later became a YWCA.

Photo: The Ingalls

DTLA’s other new attractions

Blocks from the Proper, natural-wine enthusiasts can find biodynamic, low-intervention, and small-production varieties at Good Clean Fun, a lively new outdoor bottle shop and eatery by a few Manuela veterans including chef Jesus Ramirez-Arteaga, whose rotating California-Mediterranean menu is infused with unexpected mole sauces and vibrant spins on sustainable shellfish. A moody elegance pervades Enrique Olvera’s eagerly anticipated Arts District opening, Damian, a multifaceted veggie- and seafood-forward destination. In the same ’hood is L.A.’s first modern Brazilian restaurant, Caboco, by chef Rodrigo Oliveira, the culinary mind behind two Michelin-starred São Paolo eateries. And preservationists are celebrating Apple’s recently opened ornate flagship inside the circa-1927 Tower Theatre a few blocks up, where some DTLA architectural tours begin.

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