When the stars come out to play in Tinseltown, they like to feel they are shining in the right firmament. But joints open and close as often as Madonna changes clothes and finding the right scene is essential. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the best nights to party. Nightlife begins around 9.30pm and you should try to end up in a hip hotel bar to exploit the long drinking hours. You gotta look the part in La-la Land.On Sunset (that's Boulevard to you and me), where the music and movie industries mingle, dress in Rodeo Drive labels and accessories. For bars such as the Pig 'n' Whistle, designer grunge is de rigueur. Flagging a yellow cab is the way to go. West Hollywood to Hollywood costs around $18 (£11). The legal drinking age is 21 and some bars ask for ID. For an up-to-the-minute listings magazine contact LA Inc (020-7318 9555; www.visitlanow.com).
A-listers feature at The SkyBar at The Mondrian Hotel, 8440 Sunset Boulevard (00 1 323 848 6025), an über-hip watering hole with a stunning pool deck with a widescreen panorama of LA. Cocktails set you back $18, but hey, you're worth it! Calling up to make a reservation helps you glide past the burly man policing the velvet rope. Indulge your passions for fancy footwear and vodka cocktails at Star Shoes, 6364 Hollywood Boulevard. Buy women's shoes while sipping cocktails in this former wig warehouse. At the Beauty Bar, 1638 Cahuenga Boulevard, women perched on retro bar stools enjoy free pedicures and manicures while imbibing concoctions such as Shampoo and Platinum.
Celeb-spot at Mortons, 8764 Melrose Avenue (00 1 310 276 5205) has simple fare for around £30. Scenesters pay more for fab French food at Les Deux Cafés, 1638 North Las Palmas Avenue (00 1 323 465 0509). The Cheesecake Factory, 364 North Beverly Drive, offers more than 30 kinds of cheesecake and hearty Californian cuisine for under £15.
Make for the retail therapy malls such as the Beverly Center, Hollywood & Highland and The Grove. Look out for Winona on ritzy Rodeo Drive. For organics, go to The Farmers' Market, 6333 West 3rd St.
Get on your Gucci and Prada and hit Forty Deuce, 5574 Melrose Avenue (001 323 465 4242), where the super-sleek lounge. Dare to disco at Deep, 1707 North Vine Street (00 1 323 462 1144), the club of the moment which was featured in Ocean's Eleven. After dark, the poolside bar at The Standard Hollywood, 8300 Sunset Boulevard (00 1 323 650 9090), as seen in Sex and The City, is to die for.
Feast on fries, full-fat chocolate milkshakes and burgers at Mel's Drive-In, 8585 West Sunset Boulevard, a movie-style retro diner.
With 50 miles of golden Pacific beaches, you are spoilt for choice. At Venice, the cast of characters ranges from power-pec Muscle Marys on Muscle Beach to blading grannies and singing poodles. Don your shades, get a table at the Side Walk Café, 1401 Ocean Front Walk and enjoy the picture.
Virgin Holidays (0870 220 2782; www.virginholidays.com) offers a three–night b&b weekend break at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel from £770 per person, including flights from Heathrow and car hire. Further information: Los Angeles Tourism Convention and Visitors Bureau, LA Inc (020-7318 9555; www.visitlanow.com).