Best for celeb-spotting: Los Angeles

From high-level trekking in Morocco's Atlas Mountains to rubbing shoulders with A-listers on Hollywood Boulevard, and from rural retreats off Tuscany's beaten track to jet-set hang outs for Moscow's super-rich, our writers have been to the ends of the earth to find a world of inspiration

"God, Los Angeles is so shallow," many of my British friends say when I tell them that I'm obsessed with the place. They have a point. LA is like visiting a movie set – or Disneyland, complete with blue skies and palm-tree-lined boulevards. Except that instead of Mickey Mouse ears, the characters are all wearing oversized sunglasses and silicone breasts.

Since I'd used my Air Miles to bag an upgrade, I began my adventure in the Virgin Atlantic lounge at Heathrow by getting a St Tropez spray tan. Upon arrival I checked into the über-discreet Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills. In fact, it was so discreet that I drove past three times before finally locating the parking lot.

I was in heaven at the Thompson. The rooftop pool bar (accessible only with a room-key card) had panoramic views of Los Angeles and the hills, and I could eat spicy tuna rolls with chilli mayonnaise from Bond Street, their fantastic restaurant, for breakfast.

I wanted scandal and intrigue, so my friend Anna and I headed out to Madeo, the Hollywood Italian that made headlines a few months ago when George Clooney got into a shoving match with romance-novel cover boy Fabio. We didn't see George, but I had some gorgeous carpaccio – and spotted Courteney Cox on my way to the bathroom.

Anna had volunteered to be the designated driver, so we took a ride down the Sunset Strip in search of a rock club. We ended up at Whiskey A Go Go. I knew it was touristy, but I had to see the legendary spot where dancers first shook their asses in cages, and Cream, Roxy Music, Oasis, Jimi Hendrix and Guns N'Roses have all performed.

The next day, I cruised past all of the flat, indistinguishable buildings, the yoga studios, nail parlours, psychics and sushi bars up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu Beach for my surfing lesson with Malibu Longboards. While my instructor Dave pushed me on to the waves, I screamed "Sorry!" as I almost ran over people, hit my head with the board and surfaced spitting brown water and seaweed. But in the end I rode a wave all the way into the beach!

Afterwards, some friends and I went for cocktails at the Sunset Marquis, a favourite for music industry types. As I sipped my cocktail, I saw someone familiar at the next table. Wasn't he that guy who sat next to me in French class during secondary school? No, it was Julian Lennon.

The next day was more sushi – this time at Koi. A guy at the next table caught my eye, and I started chatting to him. Unfortunately, in between answering his Blackberry every five seconds, he told me that he was "definitely getting his next project greenlit". This is LA-speak for "I'm unemployed and living in my parents' basement".

Since blowing out my food budget in the evenings, I was living on one meal a day. So to kill time, I window-shopped. Rodeo Drive is for tourists, but Robertson Boulevard is where the boutiques are, including True Religion, Alice+Olivia, Intermix, Horn and Kitson (where Paris Hilton is a regular and the Team Aniston and Team Jolie T-shirts were born). They have a great mix of merchandise: mega-pricey Marc Jacobs pumps sit on the shelf next to their own-brand shoes which sell for around $50.

I caffeinated at Starbucks on Melrose, right across the street from The Ivy. It's a great place to people watch without having to shell out for the food. Shopping does have a seedier side, and I was sure that I would find it at the Hustler store. The mega-mall version of Larry Flynt's porn empire is about as far from a back-alley sex shop as you can get. Where else can you browse for dildos and DVDs next to a cute little coffee shop?

I buy into the whole LA dream every time – or at least my tiny slice of it. I think of Andy Warhol's quote about Hollywood – "Everybody's plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic" – slip on my oversized Aviators and stroll out into the perfect sunshine.

Stars & bars

* There isn't a star, model or mogul worth their expensive body salts who hasn't kicked back on the plush banquettes of Amy Sacco's tiny lounge club-cum-resort, Bungalow 8 in Manhattan. Caviar, cocktails and on-site hairdressing as standard. 515 West 27th Street, NYC; 00 1 212 629 3333

* It's just a private jet hop from Hollywood to Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Baja California so you can expect plenty of A-listers. You can also expect a 3,500-bottle strong wine cellar, Med-Mex cuisine and telescopes in the bedrooms! From £400 per night. 00 800 8767 3966; lasventanas.com

* Hotel Costes in Paris is the modern "seductrice" of the Paris hotel scene. The boudoir-like bar attracts local and international celebs alike (this is supposedly where Johnny Depp met Vanessa Paradis), especially during fashion week Hotel Costes, Rue St Honoré, Paris, 00 33 1 42 44 50 25

* If politicians are the new rock stars, then groupies should head to the Hawk and Dove, Washington DC, where Obama had his first fundraiser. It may have a bipartisan name but its 40-year history has favoured Democrat regulars. 001 202 543 3300; hawkanddoveonline.com

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

    £15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence