Necessity may be the mother of invention, but when it comes to L.A. nightlife, reinvention is Big Daddy. These days, it’s not enough to open a new venue, create an inviting atmosphere or hire the right DJs/chefs. Eventually, the luster of newness fades, and when it does, it’s time for an extreme makeover, hot-spot edition! Here are four of the most drastic and/or fantastic transformations we’ve seen. If any establishments can attain longevity in fickle club land without having to change again, its these beauteous boîtes.
Best London Calling: Foxtail
Lobby was nice and the Lounge was pretty swank, but club impresarios SBE (Nazarian, Bolthouse, et al.) definitely took the look and feel of the space next to the Troubadour to haute new heights when they turned it into Foxtail. It’s retro without the kitsch, swank without being stodgy, and glam but not grossly so. Low ceilings, metallic detailing, groovy Art Nouveau–patterned glass and supple seating make this ’70s London–inspired spot swingin’ and sophisticated at the same time. Add to that the sumptuous menu, Biba-designed staff garb and the upstairs dance club that’s great for burning through the copious (and creative) cocktail menu, and Foxtail leaves other upscale spots of this kind (including its former incarnations) in the dust.
9077 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 859-8369 or www.sbe.com/foxtail.
Best Ogling: Crown Bar
Low-lit and warm, the Crown Bar’s royal re-treatment of WeHo straight stalwart Tempest deserves props for not going too fancy or campy with its new look. They definitely tore the place up, though (looking at the new layout, it’s actually difficult to figure out where Tempest’s tiny stage and elevated seating area even were). The room has an English, men’s lodge feel, now with cushiony couches, tasteful chandeliers and a big bar smack in the center, a setup that makes for easy socializing with sauntering-by strangers and ogling galore on its starlet-friendly nights.
7321 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 882-6774 or www.crownbarla.com.
Best Fantasyland: Medusa Lounge
It might be anything but tasteful when it comes to décor, but Medusa’s Disneyland-ish look (ominous brass light fixtures, colorful stained-glass windows, wood carvings, gothic arches) makes a bold backdrop to the DJ beats supplied Thursdays and weekends, not to mention the ample meals and beer schooners served here. It used to be German restaurant Lowenbrau Keller, and bits of that festive, schnitzely feel remain, but the owners have definitely gone with the more-is-more mindset here and the adornments (much of it from movie sets) are more attention-grabbing than a head full of snakes.
3211 Beverly Blvd., Koreatown, (213) 382-5723 or www.medusaloungela.com.
Best Big Night Out: The Kress
Of the go-big-or-go-home aesthetic is Hollywood’s nightlife emporium The Kress, in the old Frederick’s of Hollywood space. Talk about a transformation. We had no idea the building was even that big. This new multistory entertainment complex has an opulent Vegas feel, with giant fixtures and statues in the main dining area, a modern sushi bar upstairs, a sexy blue-hued lounge and an oasis in the sky on the roof (though only the superduper VIPs get to see that). The basement bumps with mirrors and strobes, but if hip-hop humping ain’t your thing, the Restaurant at the Kress is a must-try for tangy Asian fare, fruity fun drinks (there’s even an homage to its former incarnation, called the Forty Six, marking the year Frederick’s opened) and sultry see-and-be-seen setup. It might not be the pink-and-purple tower of lingerie temptation it was, but this landmark is sexier than ever.
6608 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 785-5000 or www.thekress.net.