Postcard from Los Angeles

Destination: downtown

Downtown Los Angeles is being pursued by everyone from L.A. locals to (gasp!) Donald Trump, who's been nosing around for property. Leading the charge is Andre Balazs' Downtown Standard hotel (at 550 S. Flower St.; 213-892-8080), a renovated oil-company headquarters from 1955 with a marble-and-stainless-steel facade, an outdoor rooftop bar and pool, and tons of fun, stylish attitude (at night, movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey are projected from the hotel onto neighboring skyscrapers). Rooms ($95-$500) are given names like "Huge" and "Humongous"—the "Wow" rooms are 710 square feet and have soaking tubs for two or more, a bed of Hefner-esque proportions, and gorgeous views of the skyline. In West Hollywood, chef Alain Giraud's Bastide is redefining the standards of restaurant style. With ethereally beautiful interiors by Andrée Putman, Bastide is a reconfigured bungalow just off La Cienega Boulevard (at 8475 Melrose Place; 323-651-0426) with an all-French wine list and tasting menus from $60 to $90 a person. General manager Donato Poto also recently brought back a two-pound white truffle from Rome. Let's hope he's in a sharing mood. Lucques chef, Suzanne Goin, has finally popped the cork on her wine bar A.O.C. (at 8022 W. 3rd St.; 323-653-6359). It offers 50 wines by the glass, 20 cheeses, and Goin's beloved French-California-Mediterranean comfort cooking, downsized to smaller portions (and prices: dinner, $55). Also in the neighborhood, SugarPlum Bakery (at 7122 Beverly Blvd.; 323-934-7900) has won over locals with its Italian and French pastries, focaccia, and biscotti.

Restaurant prices reflect a three-course dinner for two, excluding beverages and gratuity. Hotel prices show high-season rates from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.