7 things to know about the Westin Bonaventure hotel, Los Angeles, before checking-in
1. Westin Bonaventure and the SRF World Convocation-we are connected!
Note: To begin with, the hotel is HUGE and you may want to request a map when you check-in!
For many years I have been participating in the SRF World Convocation Week which is held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, United States. SRF (Self Realization Fellowship) is a spiritual organization founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920 which teaches scientific methods of meditation for a balanced and happy life. The Convocation Week is dedicated to reviewing the meditation techniques as well as classes and talks given by the monastic disciples on spiritual living. One also gets the chance to attend group meditations with three or four thousand people that come from all over the world to attend this special week.
2. Enjoying downtown L.A. at Westin
The convocation affords me an opportunity to stay at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel regularly and enjoy downtown L.A. However since I am exceptionally busy during my stay there, I don't get a chance to get out of the hotel much, except maybe for a visit to the Macy's store or the Ralphs supermarket which are both in walking distance of the hotel. At Ralph's I can also bring my clothes for dry-cleaning since the hotel laundry services are very expensive.
When I say enjoying downtown L.A., I mean enjoying the fabulous views of the city from the floor to ceiling glass windows of my high-floor room as well as through the glass elevators! It is especially magnificent to watch the skyline during the sunset hours or the beautiful innumerable city-lights in the night as they illuminate the skies and the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Tired from the day's activities, it is a delight to snuggle up cozily in bed with a cup of soothing chamomile tea and drown oneself in the incredible river of lights! I remember the first time I stayed there, it was also my first time in Los Angeles and I was completely enthralled by the view of the Hollywood Hill from my room!
3. Something on the rooms
a. Even though a bit small, the rooms are newly renovated and comfortable. I once had the luxury to stay in the King Grand View room which had superb city-views but the size of the room was same as the traditional room.
b. Each room has a refrigerator and a coffee machine with complimentary Starbucks coffee. The Housekeeping is very kind and keeps me supplied with an adequate stock of coffee, half and halfs and sugar for my various coffee intervals during the day! Just splendid!
c. The rooms have an in-built cupboard, a safe for your valuables and provide guests with an iron and ironing board, a bathrobe and lots of towels along with the basic shampoo and soap needs in the bathroom.
d. The King bed is good for two people in the Traditional Room with one King Bed, however if you stay in a room with two double beds, each double bed is comfortable only for one person!
4. Food and more at the Westin:
a. The hotel offers Buffet and A La Carte menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Lakeview Bistro which is the restaurant on the ground level. I enjoy breakfast the most with all kinds of choices and complimentary juice and coffee.
The LA Prime restaurant is located on the 35th floor and has the most magnificent views of the city of L.A. On the 34th floor delight yourself with a visit to the Bonavista Lounge, a revolving cocktail lounge.
b. There are also more inexpensive restaurants and pizzerias located on the third or the fourth level and an entire foodcourt is actually set up just for Convocation participants!
c. There are also many nice eating places in the vicinity of the hotel with many different kinds of restaurants including Mexican and Indian.
d. Each room is provided with a refrigerator which is indispensable for me as I also like to carry my own food. One can also request for a microwave in the room for as little as $20 for a week (2013 rates), always good for people with allergies having special foods.
e. In-Room Dining
The in-room dining is really expensive as the service charge is exorbitant but nevertheless my stay is never complete without having had the luxury to dine like this with the table set next to the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city of Los Angeles! I usually order from the kids menu as the servings from the regular menu are really quite large and I cannot do justice to them. The kids menu is also more affordable and I have ordered pancakes and waffles and omelettes and they have all tasted delicious!
5. Exercise and Recreation:
Besides a well-equipped gym, there is also a nice swimming pool (but not very big) where one can enjoy swimming especially in the mornings when the sun is just rising and the friendly city is waking up. The pool is just enough heated to enjoy a good swim even at 6 a.m. when the pool opens. There is also a jogging track inside the hotel but I have never tried this.
There is a nice outside patio area on the level where the pool is; here you can enjoy either cool summer California evenings with your friends or sunny days in the winter as the case maybe.
You can also find a massage parlor and a hair salon in the hotel on the third or the fourth levels. (I am forgetting if it is the third or the fourth level...sorry!)
6. Shuttle bus to the Desert Hill Premium Shopping Outlet:
There is a shuttle bus service that leaves everyday from the hotel to one of the biggest shopping outlets in Southern California: the Desert Hill Premium Shopping Outlet located near Palm Springs. The day's round trip costs $100 (prices in 2014) and it is a great opportunity to visit your favorite brand stores like Gucci, Prada, Burberry, True Religion etc.
7. At the time of checking in at the Westin Bonaventure
a. Ask for a room away from the elevator, otherwise you might have people looking directly into your room as they go up and down in the elevator! It's all glass, remember! And also with an elevator so close, it gets very noisy!
b. Ask for a room on a higher-floor (for great city views) like something in the 20s.
c. The hotel has four towers all linked together-the green, red, yellow and blue. The center tower rooms are the bigger rooms just incase you like some extra space!
d. Make sure your rooms are away from the ice-vending machine otherwise you will be up most of the night with the noise!
e. Don't forget to collect Starpoints for your stay by registering at spg.com (Starwood Preferred Guest): My favorite is to use cash and points for hotel stays which works out pretty economical to stay in a five-star hotel! As long as you make one stay at any SPG hotel once a year, the points don't expire.
f. As mentioned earlier, the hotel is HUGE and you may want to request a map when you check-in.
g. Last but not the least, some rooms have connecting doors incase you want to stay close to your friends!