Seeing Stars: The Hotels of the Stars..


404 South Figueroa Street (at 4th Street),
Los Angeles, CA. / (213) 624-1000 or (800) 228-3000



The Westin Bonaventure Hotel is a modern landmark in downtown Los Angeles.

Built in 1976, the 35-story Bonaventure is a futuristic structure, and the city's largest hotel. Made up of five cylindrical, mirrored-glass towers; it looks like something straight out of a science fiction movie, with glass elevators shooting up through the roof of the lobby and racing up the sides of the glistening high-rise. Visible from the Harbor Freeway, it is one of the most recognizable buildings on the downtown horizon, along with City Hall and the Music Center. In fact, it is one of the ten most-photographed buildings in the world.

The Bonaventure's dazzling appearance hasn't gone unnoticed by Hollywood. The hotel has been featured in a number of sci-fi epics. You may have seen this gorgeous glass building in 1983's helicopter flick "Blue Thunder" (with Roy Schieder), the 1995 virtual reality suspense film "Strange Days" (with Ralph Fiennes and Julliette Lewis), the 1998 Oscar-winning drama "Rain Man," (with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise,) the 1995 romantic comedy "Forget Paris" (with Billy Crystal and Debra Winger), or any number of other movies and TV shows.

        

The most memorable recent production shot at the hotel was Clint Eastwood's 1993 thriller, "In The Line of Fire." We got to see Clint pursue a would-be presidential assassin (John Malkovich) through the hotel's lobby, and up in the hotel's glass elevators.

Speaking of those glass elevators... Remember the scene in 1994's "True Lies" where Arnold Schwarzenegger rides a horse into an elevator? Well, that was shot at the Bonaventure. And yes, they actually took a live horse into one of the elevators for one shot. (Other angles were shot using a mechanical horse, and an elevator set.)

Also, most of the key scenes in the 1995 Johnny Depp thriller "Nick of Time" (also involving a political assassination,) were filmed at the Bonaventure.

The hotel has a rooftop lounge which actually revolves. It's called the Bona Vista Lounge, and is located on the hotel's top (35th) floor. This restaurant was the setting for the 1980's TV sitcom, "It's a Living" (which starred Ann Jillian and Crystal Bernard as waitresses), and the revolving lounge was also seen in "In the Line of Fire." As you might expect, the lounge offers a great view of the city below, as does the hotel's other restaurant, the "LA Prime."

Another TV show that used the futuristic hotel as a location (both inside and out) was "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century."

Unfortunately, the hotel's interior can't quite match its dramatic exterior.

Not for any lack of trying, mind you. Inside this huge 1470-room hotel, you'll find a expansive, circular, six-level lobby; a towering 5-acre indoor atrium containing a shopping complex, restaurants, bars, an indoor "lake" and fountains (not to mention those space-age elevators). On Sundays, they throw a wonderful brunch in this hotel lobby, complete with strolling musicians.

Yet, there is a sterile feel to the Bonaventure Hotel's vast lobby. The color scheme alone is alienating (a drab concrete-gray stone with brown leather seating areas), the decor lacks warmth, and the narrow pedestrian walkways weave a confusing course around the edges of the circular lobby, making casual strolling difficult.

Rooms go for $157 to $195.

The hotel is definitely worth visiting once while you're in downtown, but keep your expectations low. Its primary attraction is its glimmering, high-tech exterior. If you're looking for an equally gorgeous interior, you'd do better to check out the nearby Biltmore Hotel (at 5th & Grand) with its spectacular lobby.

Parking: Parking almost anywhere in central downtown is expensive, so as you might expect, the underground parking garage at the Bonaventure is high-priced. Valet parking is available for overnight guests only.

 Getting there: The Bonaventure Hotel takes up an entire block of downtown Los Angeles, just east of the Harbor (110) Freeway. It's bounded by 4th Street on the north, 5th Street on the south, Flower Street on the east and Figueroa Street on the west. The hotel's main entrance is on the west side of the hotel, facing Figueroa Street (near 5th Street). With its mirrored-glass cylinders, it's hard to miss. / From the Harbor (110) Freeway, take the 6th Street exit. Turn left (north) from 6th Street onto Figueroa, and go two blocks north to the hotel.



[For more information on this subject, you can access the Bonaventure's official website at:
http://www.starwoodhotels.com.]








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