The number one question I get from guests when they come to Los Angeles is, “Where can I meet famous people?” To which my stock, go-to response is, “Not in L.A.” For GeorgeGeorge Clooney, jet to Lake Como, Italy. For Julia Roberts, travel to her eco-friendly estate in Taos, New Mexico. And Demi Moore is tucked away in her snowy Idaho ranch.
But there are still plenty of options – especially around Oscar season when nominees parachute into town. The following is a pretty rock-solid, if esoteric, list of where you’re apt to spot an A-list celebrity. Oh, and skip Rodeo Drive. The slim odds of a celebrity sighting are not worth braving the mad crush of tourists snapping photos of the famous but decidedly underwhelming street sign.
1. SHUTTERS ON THE BEACH: Britney Spears checked into this Santa Monica beachfront resort for a month during her manic shaved head phase. Coast, the hotel’s café is a favorite spot for Hollywood power lunches and One Pico, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, has a devoted fan in both Renee Zellweger and Cameron Diaz. www.shuttersonthebeach.com
2. CHATEAU MARMONT: The infamous site of John Belushi’s drug-fueled death, this landmark Hollywood haunt is a magnet for scandal and movie stars. To give you an idea of how celebrity-heavy the place is, I once spotted Scarlett Johannson, Eva Mendes, Dominick Dunn, Ryan Reynolds and Toby McGuire all dining at adjacent tables at the hotel’s patio garden eatery. www.chateaumarmont.com
3. SUNSET TOWER HOTEL: The hotel’s swank Tower Bar Restaurant attracts the likes of Sean Penn, Courteney Cox Arquette, and, in the celeb CNN reporter category, Anderson Cooper. I once bumped into in the bathroom. Reservations are a must and Thursday nights are the hottest and most happening. www.sunsettowerhotel.com
4. KATSUYA: For star-studded Sushi, the Hollywood location of this trendy L.A. chain (there are four city-wide venues) features Monday sake specials and a steady rotation of celebrities such as www.sbe.comand Brad Pritt.
5. RUNYON CANYON PARK: An oasis in the middle of Hollywood mania, the park boasts 160 acres of hiking and biking trails and is a big draw for Angelenos squeezing in a run between auditions and pitch meetings. Plus, it’s dog friendly, and celebrities love dogs almost as they love themselves. I’ve twice hiked alongside www.lamountains.comand her now deceased pooch Daisy.
6. GOLDENBRIDGE YOGA: Supermodels Josie Maran and www.goldenbridgeyoga.comhave practiced their downward dogs and tree poses at L.A.’s premiere spiritual village. The Mommy & Me (And Daddies Too!) class is always a hit with celebrity parents.
7. ROBERTSON BOULEVARD: Paparazzi have pretty much taken up residency on this upscale, store-lined stretch due a few blocks north of Beverly Hills. You’ve no doubt seen the photographic evidence in the likes of Us Weekly and People. Chic stores Kitson and Lisa Kline can claim www.losangeles.com/shopping/and as clients.I'm not sure does anything but shop on Robertson. And you’re nobody until you’ve been snapped drinking a signature mint julep at legendary restaurant The Ivy.
8. THE FOUR SEASONS: The chic Beverly Hills location plays host to numerous press junkets and plenty of Hollywood after-parties. It’s nothing to see James McEvoy or www.fourseasons.comsipping a beverage in Gardens, the hotel all-day dining option.
9. MALIBU COUNTRY MART: Gisele Bündchen can often be found lunching at Tony Taverna, one of the popular anchor restaurants in this outdoor market area. Trendy boutiques such as Planet Blue and James Perse provide ample shopping opportunities for adults, while 98% Angel offers the best in hip kid couture (Halle Berry has purchased stacks of baby wear). And there's a great children's play area where I once spotted culinary queen Giada De Laurentiis exchanging air kisses with Owen Wilson. www.malibucountrymart.com
10. CHURCH: Celebrities screw up. A lot. They drink, they drug, and they have extra marital affairs. Granted, so do regular people, but typically their indiscretions are not tabloid fodder. Which is why on any given Sunday you can often find famous people performing the ultimate PR move—praying. For starters, check out Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills where www.goodshepherdbeverlyhills.org., Paris Hilton and Misha Barton have all been spotted atoning for their sins.