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Friday Five: 5 Essential Stops in Downtown LA's Arts District

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Friday Five: 5 Essential Stops in Downtown LA's Arts District

We find ourselves hanging out in the Arts District time and time again for so many reasons: the dynamic surroundings...ever changing, ever expanding, the eye-catching boutiques, and so many places to grab a bite or a sip...each one it's own unique vision come to life by their creators. Even as longtime LA residents, we always find a new place to explore every time we're in the neighborhood. There's no shortage of creative-driven businesses and this list is sure to change, but at this moment in time, here are our favorites whether you're a local with a busy schedule or you're simply visiting for the weekend. 


1. Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel: 901 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 | @hauserwirth

The newest "kid" on the block, so to speak, this behemoth gallery has made its home in the former Globe Mills complex, a collection of early 20th century buildings of indoor and outdoor spaces originally used as a grain mill. Keeping the original structure intact with raw touches, the wondrous space has been adapted by Creative Space and Selldorf Architects. The inaugural exhibition, ‘Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016,’ featuring nearly 100 works by 34 artists around the world, is housed in the the four indoor galleries. It's incredibly refreshing to see how well each work of art fits into the space it's installed in, and the amount of breathing room given for the audience to take in the work of the featured artists. 

 Beautiful concrete craftsmanship frames the information desk

Beautiful concrete craftsmanship frames the information desk

 Installation by  Shinique Smith

Installation by Shinique Smith


2. The Springs

The Springs: 608 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90021 | @thespringsla

Stop for lunch at this industrial-chic LA hyphenate a few minutes away. Functioning as a kitchen and juice bar/yoga studio/infrared sauna/healing spa/event space, The Springs is the ultimate wellness oasis. While it has been open for a few years, (original coverage here) the kitchen was recently revamped by executive chef Jasmine Shimoda and has reopened for breakfast and lunch. Below is the namesake Shimoda Roll, made with all the things that are good for you - tempeh, cucumber, avocado, mizuna, radish sprouts- all wrapped in nori and served with a spash of spicy mayo for dramatic effect (and taste). Both the roll and side salad were incredibly tasty and I left feeling great about nourishing my body with such fresh tasting food that felt prepared with care.

 Gorgeous light fills the bar and restaurant space.

Gorgeous light fills the bar and restaurant space.

 Shimoda Roll with a side salad

Shimoda Roll with a side salad


3. Shreebs Coffee

Shreebs Coffee: 527 Colyton St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 | @shreebscoffee

Originally a pop-up coffee shop now housed in a revamped shipping container, Shreebs is home to a deceptively simple menu of beverages and bites. Every drink is simple yet perfectly balanced and considered. We are big on tea here at Destination Envy and couldn't resist trying the Pink and Yellow tea. Made with hibiscus tea, lemongrass tea, and a splash of lime and simple syrup, it might have been one of the most delicious cold tea combinations we've had. With tea and biscuit in hand, we took our time sipping it in the courtyard, watching as visitors and locals came, went, chatted, and snapped, enjoying this chic pastel patio that also hosts a yoga class every Saturday morning.  

 Saturday mornings at 8am - free yoga on the turf. RSVP  here . 

Saturday mornings at 8am - free yoga on the turf. RSVP here

 Pink & Yellow Tea, served with a mini cookie from  Breadlounge

Pink & Yellow Tea, served with a mini cookie from Breadlounge


4. Apolis: Common Gallery

Apolis: Common Gallery: 806 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 | @apolis

Located on a lively walk street: check. Adorable storefront: check. Handpicked selection of inspiring magazines: check. High quality goods sourced from makers around the world: check. In other words, there is no reason not to check out Apolis.  Founders Raan and Shea Parton have created an enticing space that brings to life their philosophy of business empowering social change. 

DowntownLosAngeles-ArtsDistrict-Apolis1

5. Westbound

Westbound: 300 South Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90013 | @westbounddtla

End the day (or kick off the evening!) with happy hour drinks and eats at Westbound.  Founded by owner Sarah Meade, the swank space was inspired by the history of the site as a former train station until the 1940s. With a creative mix of house and classic cocktails made using ingredients like pineapple rosemary shrub and chipotle honey, it's the perfect way to kick your feet up after a day of exploring this lively neighborhood.  

 Train-style booths lead out to an outdoor patio space

Train-style booths lead out to an outdoor patio space

 Oysters with caviar and fermented tangerine ice

Oysters with caviar and fermented tangerine ice


Did I miss one of your favorites? There are still so many places to check out, this may warrant a round 2. Hope to see any must-visits in the comments below! 

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Malihom: A Respite Tucked Away In Balik Pulau

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Malihom: A Respite Tucked Away In Balik Pulau

Away from the resort row in Batu Ferringhi and southeast of the UNESCO hub of Georgetown, a lesser developed area of Penang known as Balik Pulau is home to Malihom. A boutique eco-lodge high up in the jungle with a narrow one lane road leading to it's entrance (there is a simple flashing light system in place to know whether a car is coming down and whether you're clear to ascend), the curvy journey there makes the views on arrival all the sweeter. 

We arrived after a long drive from Kuala Lumpur and were greeted with an icy lemon ginger beverage while checking in. Billed as "your private estate in Penang" on their website, it did feel like we had arrived at the home of a [very fortuitous] friend. Malihom is one of those secluded destinations where you pretty much park yourself there during the duration of your stay and soak in the serenity away from bustling city life. 

Malihom-Penang-Pool-Sunrise

There are 8 separate bungalows at Malihom, all inspired by traditional Thai rice barn designs that sit on stilts off the ground. Paying homage to their origins, they are all named in Thai. Ours was "Khanun", aka jackfruit. Others include "Dhamma", the state of nature, and "Sankhara": progress. 

At Malihom, which means 'village of the fragrant rice', the lower level of the barns are designed with hammocks and patio seating for repose in the fresh mountain air. Having been back to Penang many times since my childhood there, I was pleasantly struck by how much less humidity was present in the high altitude than at sea level.

malihom-tropical-lush-greens

 

After an incredibly windy night, we woke up to an epic sunrise, one of those with every color strewn together in abstract percussion. Without saying, I loved all the sun flare I was able to capture streaming over the balcony of our barn. We lazed around a bit, marveling at the natural beauty of our surroundings before meandering down to breakfast for a meal of tea, fresh papaya, toast, and eggs. 

malihom-bungalow-papaya-yogurt-breakfast
Our power lies in our small daily choices, one after another, to create eternal ripples of a life well lived.
— M. Marti
malihom-balcony-breakfast-hammock-tea

Ah, the hammock. The icon of leisure. Our favorite spot in our barn. Napping in the afternoon breeze to the gentle swing of the hammock was one of the highlights of our short stay, not including a visit to the infinity pool with it's expansive views.

Below is a short video of the breezy morning we woke up to, set to an instrumental version of Bon Iver's Perth. 

 Shirt:  Faithfull the Brand ; Sandals:  Need Supply

After a full day of relaxing family time (and lots of picture taking), we gazed out our balcony at the view below before changing and heading back down for another freshly prepared meal. No complaints here.

malihom-view-balik-pulau-penang-malaysia

Stay

Malihom Kiri N/T 168, Bukit Penara, Mukim 6, 11000 Balik Pulau, Penang, Malaysia

Online reservations recommended; email malihom.reservation@gmail.com

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Destination Wedding In Yelapa, Mexico

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Destination Wedding In Yelapa, Mexico

In This Side of a WildernessDaniel Rice writes that "There are places which exist in this world beyond the reach of imagination". VERANA is that place. We knew right away the remote setting, which requires transportation by plane (to Puerto Vallarta), car (to Boca de Tomatlan), and boat (to Yelapa) to reach, was the perfect destination for our intimate jungle-meets-sea union in 2015. 

I loved that place as if it was a part of me, and perhaps, in some ways, it was.
— Neil Gaiman

The thought and care put into each of the 9 uniquely designed bungalows in VERANA and the property's stunning locale overlooking Banderas Bay make it a visual feast at every angle. Instead of inundating this post with wedding images; I opted to share a few of the many details that made this a dream setting to pledge our vows to each other, and hopefully return to for years to come.

Moments like waking up to the morning sun peeking through our open air bungalow (we stayed in the Tea House) still hasn't left us. The combination of thoughtful design and architecture that highlighted the mountain setting felt like such a gem in a country with no shortage of overdeveloped resorts. While the sea crabs and occasional critters that roam the property may not be for everyone, we found it charming that the ecosystem of Yelapa remained intact. 

Our 3-day celebration was filled with moments of love and laughter with the friends and family who journeyed to join us on the start of our lifelong adventure and was made more so by the warmth that every person on the VERANA staff exuded. We were made to feel like we were visiting the home of a long lost travel companion and for all of the superb hospitality, nourishing meals, and enticing cocktails, we are forever grateful. 

Stay/Play/Feast:

VERANA Yelapa, Mexico

While we booked out the entire property for our festivities (it holds 30-40 guests comfortably), it is possible to stay there individually as well. Meals by their incredible chefs are included due to the remote location. Go full-on retreat with their yoga classes and on-site spa services that all begin with a custom blend of tea. 

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Eco Luxe At Mango Bay

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Eco Luxe At Mango Bay

A long time ago, I realized that as much as I love the energy of living and working in a city, I long for casual and remote places when I'm away. There is something about a destination that requires time and effort to reach that feels all the more rewarding when you arrive, especially when the staff greets you with fresh cold towels and an icy fresh ginger lemonade during the informal check-in process.

And that's the story of my landing at Mango Bay, after having flown from Nha Trang that morning to Ho Chi Minh City to catch a connecting flight to Phu Quoc Island. (An aside: if time is a precious commodity for you when traveling in Vietnam, Vietnam Airlines is the best and quickest way to city hop). Because Mango Bay is on its own stretch of Ong Lang Beach, away from the cluster of hotels and hostels on the island, they offer airport transfers (for a small fee), which was worthwhile in this scenario. After dealing with taxis, check-ins, boarding, and deplaning for half a day, it's a sweet relief to see the hotel sign without having to haggle with the hoards of drivers vying for your attention. Then I arrived at this:   

DE_MangoBay-3298.jpg

This arresting structure is the center of the eco-resort, where check-ins, breakfast, and other activities occur. Sitting here looking out at the sea with a drink in hand made for a pleasant waiting experience while my room, one of the Plantation Bungalows, was readied.

 My personal plantation bungalow. I loved having tea out in the front deck before heading down to breakfast.

My personal plantation bungalow. I loved having tea out in the front deck before heading down to breakfast.

 Every morning, the flask is filled with warm water for tea.

Every morning, the flask is filled with warm water for tea.

I had the picturesque two-story bungalow above all to myself. All of the doors along the front and side open out, bringing true meaning to the open-air living. The bottom floor was a living area, with space for luggage, a small desk for tea. Upstairs was the bed, where the staff comes around nightly to pull down the mosquito netting, a staple in tropical locales. 

Breakfast is included with the room rate and was a delight. In addition to the tea (or coffee if you're so inclined), heaping plates fresh fruit and breads, there are choices of American or English breakfast. Since I stayed two nights, I enjoyed every bit of both. I could have lingered at the scenic setting all day, eating fresh food, journaling, looking out at the pristine sea just feet away. 

 Waking up early for breakfast was well worth this view.

Waking up early for breakfast was well worth this view.

 Breakfast menu options.

Breakfast menu options.

 The English Breakfast.

The English Breakfast.

 Breakfast setting.

Breakfast setting.

The thing that struck me most about Mango Bay was its dedication to preserving the natural setting it occupies. The walkways between bungalows are unpaved; just enough grass is cleared for one person at a time. While the food, drinks, and attentiveness are fantastic, the place isn't built up; it has a symbiotic relationship with its surroundings, including a snail that decided to make a home in my open air bathroom for the first evening. While I found that somewhat charming, not everyone would agree. 

 An abundance of flora surrounds the landscape.

An abundance of flora surrounds the landscape.

 This way for more relaxation.

This way for more relaxation.

 Open-air massage spot with sea views.

Open-air massage spot with sea views.

As a destination for wellness, Mango Bay offers spa treatments and daily yoga classes for their guests. Unfortunately, I had to forgo the yoga class because I had booked excursions around the island during my short stay. 

 Morning sun breaking through the lush greenery.

Morning sun breaking through the lush greenery.

 My gorgeous split-level bungalow.

My gorgeous split-level bungalow.

 Beauty all around.

Beauty all around.

 Cooking lessons are one of the activities offered.

Cooking lessons are one of the activities offered.

 The lowdown on Vietnamese spices.

The lowdown on Vietnamese spices.

 Loved the natural state of Ong Lang Beach the resort sits on.

Loved the natural state of Ong Lang Beach the resort sits on.

 Natural unpaved walkways blend perfectly into the landscape. 

Natural unpaved walkways blend perfectly into the landscape. 

 Vietnamese Capiroska with a side of spiced peanuts.

Vietnamese Capiroska with a side of spiced peanuts.

Because of time, I was a bit torn about staying and enjoying everything Mango Bay had to offer and exploring the rest of Phu Quoc Island. I spent most of my three days on excursions but found nooks of time to experience the simple and serene pleasures of Mango Bay, like the hammock, or a quick happy hour drink. For families, there is no shortage of activities, from resort-led trips to kayak rentals and cooking classes on site.  

 I can't imagine a more perfect place to curl up with a good read.

I can't imagine a more perfect place to curl up with a good read.

I managed to sneak in a morning swim in the ocean on my last day here before catching my afternoon flight back to Ho Chi Minh City. Soaking in the clear, warm water while gazing at the scenic panorama was the perfect end to my Vietnam sojourn. I couldn't have been happier that this was my last stop before going home to Los Angeles. 

 Kayaks and more.

Kayaks and more.

 Welcome area.

Welcome area.

It was terribly difficult to tear myself away from here. I could have easily stayed another week without leaving the resort...

Stay:

Mango Bay Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

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