There is no place quite like home. Too bad that, all too often, most of us get so wrapped up in our daily routines, work and social patterns that we forget to stop and smell the proverbial roses. And that is precisely the dilemma that staycation vacations are meant to resolve.
Having lived in Los Angeles for well over a decade, I certainly have my list of favorite hotspots, quiet spots and hoods. So for my staycation vacation, I set out to explore new things right in the world I inhabit on a daily basis. I wondered if it might be possible for me to experience closer to home the same feeling of newness I had found in Malibu. I certainly hoped that it would be.
I began with an afternoon in Beverly Hills, where I finally spent some quality time at the Tom Ford store and the Maxfield outlet (oh yes, there is one if you didn’t know—and it’s fabulous), among other shops. Retail therapy complete, I caught up with a great new friend over lunch Austrian style at chef Bernhard Mairinger’s Bier Biesl on little Santa Monica Boulevard. We noshed leisurely on the chef’s artisinal sausages, pretzel bread and Char while sipping authentic Austrian libations. Twas a perfect Friday lunch, and I couldn’t help but think how nice it was to experience my normal surroundings at a less harried pace. Not to sound trite, but it was a bit like being reintroduced to all the things I love about the City of Angels.

I capped off that first afternoon back in L.A. by checking into the Meridian Spa in West Hollywood for a little pampering. I had walked (or stumbled) past this discrete relaxation nook several times over the last year or so, but for one reason or another, I had never stopped in or made an appointment. But this being the week for all things new, I booked in advance and was pleasantly surprised to discover that though Meridian is small in comparison to larger chain spas, its services are not only comparable but outsized in terms of their quality. Not only that, but the spa is modern

From there it was off to my vacation rental right in the heart of West Hollywood, and like the one in Malibu, it was stunning. Two bedrooms, two baths on lush gated grounds right smack dab between Melrose’s best designer boutiques and Santa Monica’s busiest nightspots. Let’s just say it was a definite upgrade from my normal digs.

Similar vacation rentals are available through websites like airbnb.com, which has become a personal favorite—because nothing helps you ease into the vibe of a destination, new or old, than settling into a real home. Sure, there is no room service or maid service (though some rentals do offer housekeeping for an additional fee), but there’s always food delivery in popular destinations like West Hollywood—and then there is also that little thing called privacy., stylish and very inviting. I had a traditional 50-minute massage that combined various techniques and resulted in me leaving the spa in absolute bliss.

I wound down that evening in WeHo with dinner at Michael Voltaggio’s stellar restaurant Ink on Melrose. I had wanted to check out Ink, but

the two-month waiting list for reservations shortly after the eatery opened had proved a trifle daunting. This time I planned ahead and got a prime reservation at 8:30. Over several courses, the supreme Mr. Voltaggio, who may well be the best chef of his generation, wowed at every turn. I even caught a glimpse of the celeberated chef in the kitchen in between courses, and I can assure those with even an ounce of curiousity that he is all you might expect him to be (and quite a bit more)—a rockstar in every respect.

By the end of the night, I was convinced that not only was there no place like home, but that home can still be a wonderful place indeed.

Bottom line: Never but never discount that which is right in front of you, because that which you seek may very well be right in front of your eyes.

Until next time, cheers!