travel

West Hollywood is home to a number of memorable locations but none shine as bright as the rainbow crossings

Known as the City of Angels, LA's thriving LGBTQ community has carved out its own slice of heaven in West Hollywood

2019-05-30

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Mention Los Angeles, California and a few things spring to mind. The Hollywood sign, for example. Or, indeed, the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Perhaps the scene from La La Land, where Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling glide across the night sky at the iconic Griffith Observatory — what we’d give to be whisked off our feet by Gosling.

But for LGBTQ residents, and visitors, it’s more likely to be the rainbow crossings splashed across the intersection at Santa Monica and San Vincente Boulevards in West Hollywood.

First painted in 2012, in honour of Pride, the message still shines bright: this is a place where members of the community can be who they want to be.

In 1984, West Hollywood, or WeHo, as it’s better known, became the first majority-gay municipality in the US.

Bordering Beverly Hills, it is the beating heart of LA’s queer culture, an awesome alphabet soup with more than 40 per cent of people packed into its 1.9 square miles who identify as an L, G, B, T or Q.

Earning its gay (and everything in between) stripes, WeHo ticks all the right boxes for holidaymakers.

There is plenty on the menu for self-respecting foodies, with the region boasting a rich spread of taste-budtickling restaurants, from long-standing favourite Lucques, serving French-inspired food, to more hidden culinary delights, such as the unassuming Sushi Park.

LGBTQ travellers are spoiled for choice when it comes to nightlife, too, notably The Abbey — Elizabeth Taylor’s regular haunt — and steamy Fubar, oozing underground vibes (not in a Transport for London, commuter hell kind of way).

This is a town that knows how to throw a party, with LA Pride returning to West Hollywood Park, on 8 and 9 June, followed later in the year by the frightfully good Halloween Carnaval, taking over gay haven Santa Monica on 31 October.

For some much-needed R&R time, soak up the warm Californian sun and sip cocktails at the Mondrian Los Angeles, one of 19 hotels in the area.

The luxury retreat boasts a poolside lounge that offers oh-so-Instagrammable panoramic views of the city.

Shopaholics and culture vultures will also be in their element in the Design District, home to more than 250 galleries, boutiques and designer shops.

No trip to WeHo, though, would be complete without a visit to Hamburger Mary’s for a game of drag queen bingo.

Down On Your Knees, anyone? There’ll be a lot of dabbing for that one, we’re sure…

virginholidays.co.uk/westhollywood