Let's get this out of the way: the Munchkins. Yes, as legend has it, during the filming of The Wizard of Oz nearby, they drank and partied here at the Culver Hotel, hung from rooftops, formed the Lollipop Guild, helped conceive Liza Minnelli — we don't really know. But what we do know is that the hotel — at one point owned by John Wayne — was here way before today's version of downtown Culver City rose up around it, along with all its attempts at hip watering holes, its Rush Streets and its Bottle Rocks. So one day as you exit the Pacific Theatres after the latest Iron Man movie and wander back to the free-with-validation parking structure where your Honda Civic awaits on the King Kong level, stop into the Culver Hotel's lobby bar. You'll see the grand Renaissance Revival atrium, wood paneling, pleasant patios and signs for single malt scotches, 3 to 5 p.m. afternoon tea and 4 to 7 p.m. happy hour. You may see a jazz band playing — there's live music after 7:30 p.m. every night — and a fancy book party taking place in one of the side rooms. And you'll wonder: Why we don't come here more often? And isn't it time we stop thinking of the Culver Hotel as a Hollywood novelty, and start picturing it as an actual hangout? 9400 Culver Blvd., Culver City. (310) 558-9400, culverhotel.com.

—Zachary Pincus-Roth

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