When regional Italian restaurant Bestia opened in 2012, it catapulted the revitalization of downtown LA’s Arts District into overdrive. Soon thereafter, this post-industrial, all-but-forgotten part of town was awash with new restaurants, retail, and high-end real estate. But the area would have to wait even longer before its first hotel opened. Enter The Firehouse, which debuted in mid-April on the corner of 7th and S. Santa Fe. From the same team behind design-forward spots like Hotel Covell and Oriel Chinatown, this boutique hotel, built inside a 1920-era firehouse, offers nine uniquely designed rooms, each named by color (“The Green Room, the Red room” et al.) as well as an American/Mediterranean restaurant led by a team of female chefs.
Proprietor Dustin Lancaster first visited the firehouse space 10 years ago, when it previously housed pop-up art galleries. When the opportunity arose for him to own the building and convert it into a boutique hotel, he jumped at the chance. Teaming up with partner Tyler Stonebreaker and longtime design collaborator, Sally Breer, the space unites a group of local LA artists and designers who custom-made everything from light fixtures to bolster pillows to the restaurant uniforms.
Read our guide to the Downtown LA Arts District here.
Why it’s worth the trip:
Hotel options in Downtown LA have been mostly big-ticket since developments like the Ace and The Line Hotel first opened in 2014. The Firehouse is not only the first hotel in the Arts District, it’s one of the first boutique lodging spaces you’ll find in and around DTLA. It’s one of the homier options you’ll find in the area as well—straddling the line between a trendy boutique hotel and an Airbnb. Each room includes a kitchenette/wet bar and amenities like Clare V. designed robes and toiletry bags (she is a longtime friend of Lancaster’s) which make it comfy enough for a long-term stay, with the added bonus of hotel-like features such as daily housekeeping service. While you have your pick of hot-ticket dining options in the area, the onsite restaurant features the talents of Ashley Abodeely, a NoMad LA and Eleven Madison Park alum, and pastries by Rose Lawrence (Rustic Canyon). In the morning, a coffee bar featuring Counter Culture products and grab-and-go bites will help you get going.
You’ll like it here if…
You like to feel special. Each room has its own completely unique design and color scheme. It’s a mixture of old meets new as Lancaster and Breer kept as many original features intact as possible, such as original wood and concrete floors, original factory windows, and pressed tin panels. Then, they decorated each room with a mix of repurposed vintage furniture, new artwork, and custom light fixtures.
What’s the crowd like?
Expect a relatively youngish crowd, everyone from business travelers to visiting art and showbiz types.
What to bring:
The hotel has a super casual vibe and upstairs fire pit, so you may want to bring a sweater for outdoor time depending on time of year. You can find most everything you need in the room (complete with Le Labo toiletries) at the retail shop on the ground floor.
Rent the semi-secret “Black Room,” the hotel’s only ground-floor option, for a party night with friends. It has a Murphy Bed and is located just off to the side of the bar. This one is not bookable online so call first. If traveling in a larger group, book the Red, White, and Violet rooms together since these three rooms adjoin for maximum space and comfort.
The hotel is located five minutes from Union Station, so you can easily hop a train and take a day trip to Santa Barbara or San Diego if you need a change of scenery.
While you’re in the area…
The area’s biggest attraction of the moment is The Row, a retail and dining space offering everything from Tartine Manufactory to upscale shops to Smorgasburg on Sunday. It’s a stone’s throw from the hotel so you won’t want to miss it. Also nearby is the LA outpost of high fashion and art destination Dover Street Market, the contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth, as well as critically acclaimed restaurants like Hayato, Nightshade, and Bestia’s Israeli sibling, Bavel. The hotel offers rental of TokyoBikes so you can cruise around the area effortlessly.