As the founding editor of Live Like it’s the Weekend, I always seem to be packing my suitcase and heading off on some exotic adventure. Until recently, that is: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of that. In fact, these past few months are the longest I’ve stayed in one place in years.
Recently, I decided to dip my toe in the travel waters again with a staycation at Hotel June, a brand-new property on the West Side of Los Angeles located just a few miles from my home in Santa Monica. The boutique hotel is part of the effortlessly chic Proper Hospitality group, and they’ve worked their magic again with this latest endeavor. Hotel June feels young and welcoming, but also elevated with its design-centric spaces and attention to detail.
To be honest, I had a hard time containing my excitement pre-staycation, daydreaming about escaping the four walls of my home that have become both a safe retreat and somewhat of a prison these past few months. But I was also nervous. Would I feel safe? Was I putting myself unnecessarily at risk? And would the hotel be taking all of the necessary precautions? These are the same questions many of us are grappling with as we decide whether, or when, to begin exploring again.
My fears melted away as Hotel June staffers took my temperature immediately upon arrival and explained the property’s detailed sanitization measures. They included close monitoring of the health of staff; no daily housekeeping unless requested; hand sanitizer throughout the property; and requiring guests to wear masks any time they’re not sitting at the restaurant or pool. Pool cushions and chairs were removed to make more room for social distancing. Even the gym was reservation-only, with occupancy limited to one group at a time. At the open-air restaurant, Caravan Swim Club, all of our servers not only donned masks but face shields too.
All told, I felt a lot safer than I thought I would—and to my pleasant surprise, I was able to relax and enjoy myself.
If you’re considering a staycation, do yourself a favor and conduct essential research ahead of time. Call your accommodation in advance and ask what they’re doing to keep guests safe. There are lots of helpful resources out there, including these safety tips about visiting California hotels, restaurants, and beaches. And be sure to map out activities that emphasize fresh air and allow for social distancing. Here are some of the highlights of my L.A. staycation—all of these pandemic-friendly places are worth checking out.
Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, Inglewood
A friend recommended this spot, located just 10 minutes away from Hotel June. With buffalo cauliflower and lavender iced coffees on the menu, I didn’t need a lot of convincing to check it out. Even better, Hilltop is a Black-owned local business, meaning you’re putting money back into supporting our diverse communities when you visit. Not only did my taste buds leave happy, I also found the space to be super-inspiring and I look forward to spending more time coworking here once it’s safe to do so.
Shopping on Lincoln Blvd, Venice
With Abbot Kinney in Venice becoming a bit more mainstream over the years, Lincoln Blvd has seen a fresh crop of independent boutiques and brands bringing new life to the busy thoroughfare. A couple of my personal favorites right now are Acme 5 Lifestyle, which carries beautiful home wares imported from all over the world, and General Store, an SF-based brand that curates an impeccable selection of ceramics, jewelry, and other unique home goods.
Marina del Rey Beach
If you’re looking for a peaceful beach day, Marina del Rey is a great option. Head out early to find parking and you’ll be rewarded with fewer beachgoers and a front-row seat to the sailboats launching out of the Marina jetty. Pro tip: To make your staycation beach day extra special, hire Bliss Beach to deck out your beach picnic setup so you can enjoy the classic SoCal weather in style.
If you’re looking for ambiance, it doesn’t get much better than open-air dining at Malibu Farm, which serves up farm-to-table fare with front row seats to the ocean. Even if you’ve been living in L.A. your whole life, there’s something about a brunch and stroll down the pier here that can transport you instantly to that carefree vacation life.
Lake Shrine Fellowship, Pacific Palisades
The ultimate hidden gem of the West Side, the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades holds a special place in my heart. Created in 1950 by guru Paramahansa Yogananda, this spring-fed lake is a little oasis amongst the chaos of Los Angeles and provides a welcoming retreat for people of all religions. If you need a place to destress and zen out, this is it.
For more staycation inspiration, including ideas for girlfriend getaways and glamping escapes, check out Michelle’s California Travel Guide. Before you explore any of these locations, be sure to visit our Responsible Travel Hub, which includes helpful Travel Updates. Also check out our What You Need to Know series for information on staying in a hotel, visiting state and national parks, renting a car, and more.