Sparrow flies to Figueroa Hotel in DTLA


The redesigned restaurant is part of a welcome refreshment at this historic hotel added to the Hyatt Unbound collection in June. The first impression of this DTLA destination should reassure fans that the vintage charm will be retained.

I can’t wait to look back

I first stayed at the Figueroa Hotel in 2007 when my daughter and I were in Los Angeles looking for this great stay. Claire – who now calls herself butter and prefers the personal pronouns she / she – was a model in small markets for a few years and, at the request of her agent, was ready to test the water in a larger pond. No big shock, these waters were full of sharks and after a frustrating few weeks it was clear that there would be no Hollywood moment when a million dollar deal would be signed. And we agreed to it.

In fact, we celebrated our last days in town with a room at the Hotel Figueroa. It was quite comfortable and we loved hanging out by the pool, but honestly, the property felt a bit worn. Not scary, but like your dear old grandma who desperately needs a spa trip to transform herself.

The hotel opened as a women-only hostel in 1926, a rare safer place for independent travelers, some of whom have become full-time residents. In the lobby that leads to the pool there is an elaborate display of historical photos, black and white prints reminiscent of another time. We have come a long way baby

The Figueroa Hotel too. When I recently checked in for an overnight stay – leaving my little house on wheels at Malibu Beach RV Park – it quickly became apparent that the hotel had changed. For the best.

The reception is fairly narrow, but a small hallway leads into the spectacular lobby, a room with high ceilings and unusual architectural elements that warm the space. Shelves line the walls and contemporary works of art add a warm character. It’s like a place you’d like to spend time especially when you can sit by the fireplace.

Food and drink are just a short walk away and include the laid-back Figue Café, Magnolia Bar – which is currently offering a pop-up of Naughty or Nice Christmas cocktails – and the brand new Sparrow, an inspired restaurant. Italian that definitely brings some drama to the table. More on that in a moment.

A welcome refreshment

If I remember correctly, the rooms at the Hotel Figueroa were cool but a little damp. Under a new owner, it feels like a light switch has been thrown. The bright and friendly rooms still have the beautiful tile floors and the large windows that let in a lot of light. My room on the sixth floor had a view of the Hollywood sign in the distance. Yes, I am still a fan of this iconic monument.

However, one thing has not changed. The pool is always super cool. Surrounded by trees and succulents that seem to be here forever, this pool feels like an oasis of calm in the concrete jungle. During the summer months, guests enjoyed a full-service solarium experience. But on a pretty cool December day, I had the space to myself.

Drinks in the lobby

My adult child now lives in Los Angeles and met me on a visit that started with well-made drinks at Magnolia Bar, two mocktails that were on the Nice side of the Naughty and Nice menu.

Like many places vacationers come together, this neighborhood had a festive feel to it that comes from the energy that comes when friends and family get together. You could even say that it shines. BTW, we had to show proof of vaccination before we sat down. Thank you, city of angels.

Discover the menu

After a drink we went to Sparrow for dinner. This charming dining room was open to the night air, the cold chased away by glowing radiators from above. The view of the pool was spectacular, the lighting highlighted the beautiful landscape. With this view it is easy to forget that you are in the middle of the second largest city in the country.

But there is a menu to consider, an Italian-inspired selection created by chefs AJ McCloud and Jan Claudio. Most of the dishes are familiar and calming, but the team adds a Californian flavor to the mix by showcasing local ingredients.

At the beginning we decided on the surf and turf route, with a red tuna tartare in butter and Wagyu A5 beef carpaccio with black truffle shavings and marinated mushrooms. Impressive. Both beautifully plated, every bite tasted like pure heaven. Simple. Perfect.

We ordered the starters while we were discussing what to do next. Our gracious waiter had suggestions and enticing descriptions, but we got quite obsessed with that? cacio e pepe for the pasta course. All dishes are served in a family style, although the little two doesn’t quite fit this aesthetic.

That pasta mix straight from Rome seems to be popping up everywhere these days, including a next-level ravioli that I recently loved at Olivella at the Ojai Valley Inn. It’s basically the best mac and cheese you’ve ever tasted if done right, and Sparrow’s version was perfect, complemented by the great homemade pasta.

The main courses turned out to be a difficult choice. We wanted everything. After a long discussion we came to a decision: the Osso Bucco lamb shank and a grilled Branzino. Good choices.

The Osso Bucco was a delicate, manual ember so satisfying that the weather turns cold and the fish was exceptional. Served as a butterfly on a wooden board, it ended in a shower of chopped marcona almonds, which brought back tasty memories of Almadin trout. A side dish made from slowly cooked cannellini beans was a satisfying side dish.

We couldn’t eat a bite anymore, but of course we looked at the dessert menu.

Eat dessert first?

My problem with something sweet at the end of a meal is that there is usually no space. I slow down to sink into an eating coma.

However, the selection of classics is hard to seduce: tiramisu, cannoli, panna cotta and a panetonne bread pudding. The olive oil cake seemed like the easier option and kept that promise. However, we broke our promise to only have a bite or two and soon it was gone, the last sip of cappuccino was used up. What a nice evening.

We didn’t want it to stop so we walked around the neighborhood. The newly renamed Staples Center – now Arena – is one block down near an outdoor mall known as LA Live. This was certainly the case, as hundreds of night owls lined up to take a lap on the outside lane. Oh what a pleasure.

After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast in Café Fig, we set out for Christmas shopping the next morning. Our reunion with the Figueroa Hotel ended far too quickly. We made a pact to come back soon.

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