Los Angeles has lots of great nightclubs, but as much as the venue, it is the timing that determines the hot spot of the moment. Every night is a different promoter, different music, a different crowd, and a completely different experience. One of the things that most A-list clubs have in common is that they get terrible reviews from all the people who can't get in. The people in charge of keeping out the hoi polloi are often not very friendly about it. Often, if you're not on the list, you're not getting in. And if you're eligible to be on the list, you already know where the party is. But if you want to try your luck, check out some of these A-list clubs. In all cases, you should call for reservations.
Top nights are any night at this West Hollywood club. Guests of the hotel supposedly get priority. The poolside bar at the Mondrian Hotel, which is not on the rooftop but has an open view across the LA Basin, is known to have one of the strictest bouncers in town. The determined still wait in line at midnight on a Saturday night to get a glimpse of the famous and almost famous who hang out at this establishment. Early on a weeknight, it's not usually an issue, but on a Friday or Saturday night, bottle service may be required to get in. The bar itself is on an elevated platform above the pool with a more club-like lounge and additional seating at multiple levels. In winter, they cover the area with a solarium roof to ward off the chill. It closes for private parties, so check their calendar before stopping by.
Half of Hollywood's legendary stars have lived or stayed at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood and spent time in its Tower Bar during its storied history, and it continues to be a popular hangout for A-list celebs and industry movers and shakers. It's a classy joint that stays pretty true to its Art Deco roots.
The latest spinoff of the New York and Las Vegas franchise, 1 Oak, took over the historic Key Club-Gazzarri's building on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. The new owners transformed the space from rocker bare bones to designer elegance with a New York vibe. The live bands have been predominantly replaced with top DJs and the return of the disco ball. There is a minimal bar food menu.
The top nights at this Hollywood club are Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Celebs and other upscale clientele make themselves at home in this vast brick-walled warehouse with chandeliers hanging from wooden rafters and comfy sofas all over the place, but all the seating is basically bottle service. There's no real dance floor, but people dance between the sofas and around the DJ. There's also a more intimate lounge upstairs.
Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights are hopping at this Hollywood hangout for the elite. The Argyle goes for old-school mega-glam with huge chandeliers, Art Deco details, and disco lights. It can be a zoo, and the zookeepers have a really strict door policy. Inside, they're casting the hottest party in town. If you don't have the look, you don't get in. Even really famous people over a certain age get turned away. There's a separate Cocktail Den if you want to escape the dancing. Upscale dress code is strictly enforced.
At this hot address in Hollywood, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights are in demand. It's a crowded bar with DJs and popular music acts, but no real dance floor. Not that an LA club needs a reason to keep the line from moving, but this place is so small and crowded that the owners really have to keep people out until someone else leaves.
This club on the Hollywood-West Hollywood border is busiest on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Hyde Sunset is an SBE venue that prides itself on keeping the riff-raff away from the A-list. It's a trendy, but inconsistent, restaurant with a "smart casual" dress code until 9 p.m. Then at 10:30 p.m. it turns into a cocktail lounge where young celebs can hang out with their friends without being bothered by the likes of regular people. There are DJs spinning, but no dance floor. If you reserve for late dinner, you might get lucky and get access to the club afterward. If you reserve for an earlier dinner, they'll give you an hour and a half to give up your table, so no three hours of reminiscing. If you're just interested in the lounge, plan on bottle service or don't bother.
You really have to know someone to get into this West Hollywood club, especially on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. A tribute to actor David Arquette's mother, who was a burlesque dancer and pinup model, Bootsy Bellows is an intimate '60s glam dance club with live music, DJs, and creepy marionettes with the occasional quirky burlesque show.