Missing Europe? Cara Hotel Brings the Mediterranean to Los Angeles

The courtyard of the Cara Hotel. Photography by Maura Grace.
The courtyard of the Cara Hotel. Photography by Maura Grace.

The classic motel bones of Los Angeles’s Cara Hotel are barely recognizable under its new whitewash of Mediterranean fantasy. It is the same hallucination that sweeps visitors in from the street and sinks them under the romantic tide of a linen curtain-blown courtyard. Opened in the pandemic by director Patrick McCarthy, Cara Hotel is a respite and has quickly become a destination not just for discerning tourists but Angelinos who flock to its eponymous restaurant, which is serving up some of the most talked about farm-to-table fare in the city. Drowning in the sweet waft of lemon and candlelight, it isn’t so hard to pretend you might be in Greece rather than the outskirts of Los Feliz.

I certainly felt transported for my first seconds on its hospitality shores. A parade of high heels softshoed by me into its eatery heart while I checked in with the concierge in a transept off the mainstream of activity. It was from the vantage of a newcomer that I realized Cara was going to be a slightly different affair than most boutique hotels. The brag here is in the simple luxury of good service and simple design within every dimension of a stay.

rustic hotel entrance flanked by tall trees and pottery, with large doors and mediterranean style chandelier
The entrance to the hotel. Photography by Maura Grace.

The things that matter most are good. The shower pressure is high. The custom-designed beds are beyond comfy and cool to the touch. The outdoors halls are improbably quiet given the throngs. The snacks in the mini bar are thoughtful and well-priced. The rooms are light enough to tell they are spotlessly clean and dark enough to actually rest. Breakfast is served wherever you want but it's best next to the reflecting pool under the sun sail, which allows you to surrender to the perfect weather of Los Angeles while enjoying an avocado toast or a slice of biodynamic banana bread. I recommend the latter, which covered my fingertips in chocolate alongside a perfectly steamed cappuccino.

simple hotel bedroom with clean linens and simple chair
Photography courtesy of the Cara Hotel.

Lying in bed eating dessert, my friend described the bathroom as “European.” And there is something unmistakably continental about the place that gives it an ease that is counterintuitive to Los Angeles’s famously contrived savoir faire. The Cara Hotel feels genuinely cool like something that’s been there a long time. Maybe it's the ceiling moldings, which transcend the midcentury outlines of the original rooms to create an Italian-inflected oasis, or the knowledgeable staff that attends to the hotel with a noticeable care. No matter the reason, it makes the spot a perfect destination for those returning to post-COVID travel. Visitors can be assured of both enough room to breathe as well as enough energy to get them back in the mood for communing with others. Let the domestic trips commence.

installation of earthy pottery, on benches and shelves in alcove
A selection of works by John Wigmore resides at the hotel. Photography by Maura Grace.

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