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“We’re entering a beautiful renaissance” of L.A. nightlife, says Tom Topit of West Hollywood hotspot Employees Only (which was just named one of the best bars in North America by World’s 50 Best.) He’s a regular at the Sunset Strip’s Edition hotel, which relaunched its Sunset club space this year (it had opened briefly before the pandemic). It’s been joined recently by two other notable libation lounges, The Fleur Room (also on the Strip) and Capri Club in Eagle Rock.
At Sunset — the subterranean club below the lobby of The West Hollywood Edition hotel (9040 Sunset Blvd.) — the vibe is very 1979. The nod to the past didn’t come about by chance. It was purpose-built into the design by Edition creative director Ian Schrager of Studio 54 fame. “We wanted to create a space where freedom was infused with the spirit of spontaneity,” says Schrager. “We were trying to have a place where you can sit, chat and lounge. But we also have a hot, sweaty dance floor.”
That dance floor features a dizzying 400 disco balls suspended from varying heights and a state-of-the-art d&b audiotechnik sound system. The space also features the intimate Sunset Room, where green-velvet-upholstered banquettes and oak wood- paneled walls surround a craft-focused bar.
The inauspicious timing of its initial launch, directly before the shutdowns of 2020, means that Sunset is only now hitting its stride. A reopening event in April was headlined by French DJ, Fred Falke, who, fittingly, is credited with pioneering the sound of New Disco. The club has already been attracting familiar industry faces including Rita Ora — and her new husband Taika Waititi — Kate Beckinsale, Tobey Maguire and Lenny Kravitz. It’s hosted live performances from names no less notable than Chaka Khan, Janelle Monae, Questlove and James Murphy, as well a recent joint birthday party for Jesse Tyler Ferguson and husband Justin Mikita.
“During the heyday of the Sunset Strip you would drive down the street and hear music from all over, it really captured the spirit of the music scene of that day,” adds Schrager. Thanks to Schrager’s latest oeuvre, you’re likely to listen to more of the same spilling out onto the streets of West Hollywood — as if the ‘70s had never subsided.
“We don’t have a playbook of how this has evolved but it’s like the best of a New York club mixed with Sunset Strip with some added magical pixie dust.” The magic, it seems, is a generous sprinkling of post-pandemic exuberance.
As for a direct connection to Studio 54, “they’re both social, communal spaces with a true sense of freedom,” says Schrager. “If people feel protected without being inhibited then we are achieving the same magical goal as Studio—that’s the umbilical cord [between the two].”
Adds Sopit, “It’s taken years, not just due to the pandemic, to see bar culture return to Sunset Boulevard.”
THE FLEUR ROOM
From Tao Group Hospitality, The Fleur Room (9201 Sunset Blvd.) is a sophisticated experience with velvet seating and marble cocktail tables. “It’s about smaller, more intimate conversations,” says Tao Groupo CMO Pavan Pardasani of the reservations-only space.
Though the hospitality group is most known for its lavish nightclubs, beach day clubs, and restaurants in major markets like Las Vegas, New York, London, Miami, Dubai, Shanghai, Singapore and, of course, Los Angeles, The Fleur Room marks a distinct pivot away from the noise and strobe lighting that have become the language of nightlife, and instead offers a subtle, more adult cocktail lounge experience.
“We wanted to create a destination that was sophisticated and not nightlife-centric, a place where adults can go and have a drink, socialize a little bit more, be present and a bit more engaged,” says Pardasani.
During the months it has been quietly open, The Fleur Room has welcomed a smattering of celebrity clientele: Kendall Jenner, Lori Harvey, Jason Oppenheim and Ryan Philippe to name a few. It has also hosted several Hollywood special occasions, like Kevin Hart’s birthday party, Stephen Curry’s ESPYs party, album listening parties for both DJ Calvin Harris and singer Giveon and Bella Hadid’s Kin Euphorics launch.
So while The Fleur Room is already making a name for itself in the Hollywood scene, the Tao team is ultimately looking to attract a “cross-section of the industries that really make L.A. tick,” Pardasani says. “I think this [city] used to be really entertainment-driven, but we’ve seen things change.”
So far, people working in music, film, fashion, and now tech, a relatively new hospitality audience in Los Angeles, have frequented the venue the most.
The beverage program, led by Tao Group Hospitality’s beverage director Craig Schoettler (Alinea, The Aviary), is the raison d’être, especially since there’s no food on the menu. Standouts include “La Pina,” a mezcal cocktail featuring Dos Hombres, one of The Fleur Room’s partners, and a “super premium” Casa Azul reposado tequila cocktail, served in the bottom half of the blue-and-white ceramic bottles themselves.
“Our focus here with our cocktail program is really delivering for our guests on that promise of it being a cocktail lounge, and not just using that term lightly,” Pardasani says. “When you have that over 70 locations in over 25 markets around the world, we definitely have something for everybody. We just felt that what was missing — and what we’d love to be a part of — is to create a place that had a nightlife sensibility in the sense that you could get great service, see a great crowd, have great drinks, listen to some great music, but not deal with everything that comes along with nightlife.”
Eagle Rock’s hot new aperitivo bar first opened in 1963 as family restaurant The Capri, which was celebrated for its cozy atmosphere and casual Italian fare before closing in 2019.
Hospitality veteran Robert Fleming (formerly of Los Feliz’s Bar Covell) has renovated the historic space at 4604 Eagle Rock Blvd., reimagining it as Capri Club, a buzzy nightlife destination with a dash of retro Italian nostalgia.
Martini, negroni and natural wine options abound, pairing nicely with small bar bites like tuna-stuffed peppers and arancini. No reservation required at the bar-stool and red booth-lined space.
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