The Los Angeles West Side Guide
The West Side can be broken into Venice, Santa Monica, and West LA, which is home to Sawtelle Avenue (aka Little Osaka) and its many incredible noodle and sushi spots. And thanks to the beach, numerous parks, and kid-centric shops, it’s also ideal for hanging out with the littles.
Tracy Anderson Method11918 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles | 310.207.8751
We're longtime fans of the Tracy Anderson Method for a million reasons: It's a lifestyle approach to fitness, meaning that you never peak; it's fun (and hard); and it works. The studios in Studio City and now in Brentwood make following the method easy, as everyone's in it together. Membership is more expensive than your average gym but includes unlimited classes, and depending on the tier, semiprivate training sessions. The trainers are kind but tough—you will sweat (and melt inches).
Natasa Bose1611 Montana Ave., 2nd Floor, Santa Monica, Los Angeles | 310.918.3644
Natasa Bose's philosophy is the same as ours: Overall health and beautiful skin go hand-in-hand. This means that her famous custom-blended facials—pH-balancing and toning massage, followed by an oatmeal-cranberry, carrot-ginger, or egg-honey mask—don't just nourish the skin, but aids in full-body well-being. As far as more inventive treatments go, there's lymphatic drainage, ultrasound, and microcurrent therapies that are immensely effective.
Dayle BreaultVenice | 424.228.5117
Dayle Breault (aka The Goddess of Skin) has an obsession with natural skincare that was born out of her own struggles with acne. That said, acne is just one of many skin concerns she tackles: She (apparently) singlehandedly solved Cara Delevingne's issues with psoriasis and her three-part Epicuren mask visibly diminishes sun damage after a single session. Plus, her namesake product line offers the perfect balance between good-for-you ingredients and potency (the Bonafide scrub is a fan favorite). Call or email for an appointment, she sees clients in both NYC and LA.
Alexandra Wagner1636 Abbot Kinney, Venice, Los Angeles | 310.399.0123
Perched up above Abbot Kinney, this whitewashed space feels more like a tree house than a spa. Wagner, who also moonlights as a painter, is chill and wonderful, meaning that an hour spent with her skilled hands is kind of like hanging with a friend. A recovering tanning junkie herself, Wagner is nothing short of a magician when it comes to banishing sun spots and UV damage. Product-wise, the focus here is on holistic and organic lines, supplemented by Wagner's own turmeric and plant stem cell serum.
Vanessa Hernandez860 Via de la Paz, Pacific Palisades | 310.849.4452
Her laid-back personality and healing approach to skincare has made Vanessa Hernandez one of the most in-demand aestheticians in LA, so much so that she juggles clients in two locations (Beverly Hills, where she works in conjunction with two plastic surgeons, and the Pacific Palisades). The treatments on offer, though not too invasive, range from microdermabrasion to oxygen therapy to vitamin infusions to customized facials.
Love Yoga835 Lincoln Blvd., Venice
We're big fans of this Montauk studio, so we were thrilled when it opened a second beach-town location—on the West Coast. Yoga directors Kyle Miller and Sian Gordon have converted their Lincoln Boulevard space into an airy paradise that smells more like white sage and Diptyque candles than a sweaty yoga studio. The aesthetic matches the beachy interiors of the Montauk space, with white walls, teal floors, and geometric neon wall murals by local artist Carly Margolis. While the studio interior has obvious appeal, the teaching is what really shines. The overall vibe is laid-back—no heat, no mirrors, and definitely no weights—with a meditation and healthy Savasana built into every class. And while clear direction and game-changing adjustments will make seventy-five minutes go by extraordinarily fast, there’s nothing about this that’s easy: Expect to sweat (a lot) and to feel it the next day.
Sugaring LA1304 Montana Ave., Santa Monica | 310.795.2585
Anyone who’s ever had a not-so-awesome reaction to a traditional bikini wax will tell you that a gentler alternative has been a long time coming. Sugaring—which at this Montana Avenue studio is performed by trained specialists in a welcoming, light-filled space—calls on an organic sugar, lemon, and water paste to pull hair out in the natural direction of its growth—meaning significantly less pain, irritation, and ingrown hairs. The treatment can be safely applied to virtually any part of the body and somehow manages to thin out the hair over time.
Shin Salon1025 Montana Ave., Santa Monica | 310.310.3128
It’s been five years since Shin An relocated her thriving business from NYC to LA and her famously precise dry-cuts are as in-demand as ever. Shin and her crew of incredibly skilled stylists and colorists work out of a discreet little bungalow on Montana Avenue and offer a range of services that goes beyond the expected cut-and-color. The purifying scalp treatment, for example, simultaneously soothes dryness and smoothes frizz. Don't worry if you can’t get in with Shin herself, her staff are all exceptional.
The Gentle Wellness Center910 Broadway St., Suite 112, Santa Monica | 310.576.6360
For thirty-odd years, this Santa Monica institution has been focused almost singularly on colon hydrotherapy (to the extent that they train and certify practitioners). There is also an on-site infrared sauna.
Tikkun Spa1460 4th St., Santa Monica | 310.319.1111
Tikkun is the next level when it comes to Korean spas, combining high-tech far-infrared heat with traditional Korean sauna therapies. So if you want to lie down in a Himalayan-salt-brick-tiled sauna or sit in a Hwangto clay room, you get the added benefit of far-infrared heat. And in addition to the sauna rooms, there's a long menu of massages and kick-ass body scrubs to complement the sauna time. We're burying the lede though, because the real golden ticket here is the Mugworth V-Steam: You sit on what is essentially a mini throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam treats you to an energetic release. If you're in LA, you just might have to try it...
Surya Spa15539 Via De Las Olas, Pacific Palisades | 310.459.7715
Surya Spa is no joke—in fact, it's one of only a handful of Panchakarma spots in the States. That said, it takes a pretty intense level of commitment that's a bit out of reach unless you have the vacation time and budget: It requires three to four hours a day, for three, five, or seven days (we recommend the full week, though it's tough, as you have to abide by the very ascetic menu that they prescribe). The house-made organic food and authentic Panchakarma treatments reach far beyond what you'll find in a traditional wellness spa (people come here for help with parasites, for instance). The results—which can range from better skin to weight loss—speak for themselves. Beyond being a wonderful detox resource, mothers, babies, and mothers-to-be are in for a treat with Surya Spa's special approach to pregnancy and babies' first six weeks.
Body Z Alive1137 2nd St., Ste 205, Santa Monica | 310.587.2639
Colonics are the specialty at Body Z Alive, but that's not the only thing patients walk out with. Beyond a serious cleanse, it's the nutritional education that owner Lou Walker and Angie provide that makes this one of the top centers in a city for health nuts.
Shape House1003 Broadway, Santa Monica | 855.567.2346
Also known as the sweat lodge, this spot, which boasts a pretty major Hollywood following, is exactly that. Equipped with small, cozy rooms where you get into an infrared bed, the idea is that you sweat it out for 60 minutes at a time, while you watch TV, read, or listen to music. People tend to sign up for memberships and come several times a month (or week) and complement the sessions with lymphatic drainage, which is meant to boost the detox process. There's also a location in Hancock Park, and one in Pasadena.
Chocolate Sun147 Bay St., Santa Monica | 310.450.3075
Chocolate Sun concocts their own organic tanning sprays, made from herbs, botanicals, and antioxidants. Everyone gets a custom blend, which is then airbrushed on, meaning that the results are subtle and natural. There’s no reception area at the Beverly Hills location: It’s off an unmarked corridor on the second floor—you have to guess where to go unless someone is there to meet you.
Olive & June1426 Montana Ave., Sant Monica | 310.899.1029
While you wouldn't normally liken a nail salon to a really great-looking home, that's the prevailing vibe at this perennially-bustling Beverly Hills nail shop. They employ the city's best nail artists when they're not on shoots or catering to clients at home, which means it's kind of the place to go if you want something specific and intricate. While the Beverly Hills location is their original flagship, there are now locations in Santa Monica and Pasadena as well. Photos: Bonnie Tsang.
Portofino Beverly Hills1510 Montana Ave., Santa Monica | 310.458.7861
This is our place for non-waxing waxing in LA: They use organic honey to do the job, which we find much less painful. We also love that it's all-natural and doesn't leave a sticky wax residue. Ask for Viviana. P.S. They also do great spray tans, here (locations in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills).
Côte11714 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood | 310.820.0906
While Los Angeles is a veritable sea of nail salons for on-the-fly manicures, there aren't many non-spa spots that feel particularly luxurious. Enter Côte, a serene, grey-washed space that looks like it belongs in Harbour Island—not on one of L.A.'s busiest drags. The best part though is that Côte—and its collection of 109 polish shades—is completely five-free (no formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, camphor, or formaldehyde resin). It's a winning, and well-executed combination; in the front, there's a sweet little shop full of finds from the French countryside)—we'd be surprised if the city isn't blanketed with Côte outposts soon. There's an outpost in New York now, too.
Queen Bee2530 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood | 310.570.2282
There's a pretty cheeky design aesthetic here, that takes a deep bow to the Queen: Union Jack covered chairs, portraits of Her Majesty, and floral, chintz wallpaper that looks like it was lifted from the walls of a country estate set the vibe. The concept is in line with the idea that everyone should be treated like royalty, which explains the extras (like long and late opening hours). Go for “The Full Monty” as they use wax from Italy, which is applied warm (not hot) to protect the skin. Jodi Shays is the owner, and the person to see if possible. Locations in Brentwood and Culver City.
Yogaworks1426 Montana Ave., Santa Monica | 310.393.5150
There are hundreds of Los Angeles yoga studios (including the original Bikram), though it’s hard to beat Yogaworks for its breadth of studios and wealth of classes. (There are about a dozen outposts in LA.) We like Vinny’s classes best.
The ClassVarious Locations, Westside
Taryn Toomey and her definition-evading "class" have finally made it to Los Angeles. The experience is a self-titled cathartic experience, where you spend 75 minutes engaging in intense movement to “break open and activate ‘stagnant’ layers in the body.” In short you move, and scream, and shake, and yell as you release emotional energy–and get a pretty incredible workout in the process, care of burpees, planks, leg lifts, and squats. There's a fair bit of yoga worked in for good measure. It requires an open mind and a willing spirit. Taryn is back-and-forth from New York City, but has a small team in L.A. to lead classes in her absence—there isn't a permanent space yet, so you can find them at various locations on the Westside. Photo Credit: Jaimie Baird
Modo Yoga2570 Lincoln Blvd, Venice | 424.289.0008
We've quickly grown to love this bright, clean, chic studio, which is the newest addition to the Modo Yoga chain (there are locations throughout the country). Specializing in hot yoga, the schedule offers a good mix to keep your practice interesting (the music flow is our go-to). Bonus: A clean locker room with ample showers makes an early morning workout that much easier.
Sauna Bar11677 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood | 310.652.5522
This spot is famous for its custom-made infrared saunas. In the personal pods, which look super futuristic, you lie on a bed of jade stones while your body is bathed in red infrared light. Your head is outside of the pod during the entire the forty-minute session, and the surrounding air is diffused with a custom blend of aromatherapeutic oils. The lymphatic compression massage and unique Magnesphere machine, which aims to improve your balance and sleep by way of deep relaxation, are so very worth exploring.
Erika Bloom Pilates LA11611 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood | 212.288.3410
Erika Bloom Pilates has finally ventured west (until now, it was just New York and Connecticut that got to sculpt and tone with the best in the business), taking up residency in Brentwood. The open space is flooded with natural light, making it a relaxing and—oh yes, we’re going to go there—fun workout. The studio’s knowledgeable staff curates personalized routines that borrow from Pilates, yoga, Alexander technique, Feldenkrais, and weight training. There are also programs for pre- and postnatal women, osteoporosis, injury prevention, acupuncture, bodywork, and holistic health consulting.
Plumb Line Pilates1913 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica | 310.453.2369
Plumb Line Pilates is like traditional Pilates, but with special attention paid to the female anatomy. Let’s back up: It was founded by women’s health physical therapist Allison Oswald to combine traditional Pilates with personalized physical therapy or pre- and postnatal care treatments. With a focus on pelvic health, Oswald and her staff take a highly individualized and holistic approach to each client’s specific needs. There is also a certified lymphedema therapist on site to target a sluggish immune system, hormonal imbalance, stress, or really any combination thereof.
Take Care1617 Broadway, Santa Monica | 917.841.9868
Sadie Adams’s unique therapeutic approach is designed to help clients tease out energy and vitality from within. Her technique stems from her studies in anatomy at the School for Body-Mind Centering, and in Ayurveda and yoga therapy at the Ayurvedic Institute. After founding Take Care Face & Body in New York City, she has opened a second location, Take Care Center for Body Mind Regeneration, in Santa Monica. Adams combines science, ancient wisdom, and intuitive awareness to support physical and spiritual healing. Her therapies include microcurrent facials, a restorative therapy that stimulates marma points in your face, promoting deep relaxation and healing throughout your entire body.
Knockout LA177 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey | 310.927.7257
New spots continue to pop up in Playa del Rey, the beach neighborhood just south of Venice and Marina del Rey. One of the openings Westsiders are excited about most is Knockout LA, a fitness studio on the increasingly busy stretch of Culver Boulevard right in town. Knockout’s core class offerings are dance, yoga, meditation, and breathwork. There’s also a series of rotating workshops, like Disruption. Taught by Erin Ward (who also does Taryn Toomey’s The Class), Disruption is a feel-good mashup of everything you’ll find at Knockout—plus it manages to weave in a few minutes of writing as a form of emotional release. (Go with it: It works.) The front of Knockout is a pretty, curated beauty/wellness/workshop, so bring your wallet with you if you want to shop after om. The studio space itself is one long room that’s lit up by a wall of inset candles.
Speir Pilates1427 7th St., Santa Monica | 310.260.4808
With only nine Reformer beds, classes at this beloved Pilates studio are small—which means plenty of attention from instructors despite the fact that classes are almost always fully booked. The space is sun-soaked and tranquil; the only wall not filled with mirrors or windows displays a white neon sign that aptly reads “sweat + good vibes.” Andrea Speir teaches many of the classes herself; they vary in purpose and intensity but all share the same challenging but gentle ethos (and heart-rate-upping playlists). Every instructor here is great, but we love Kit’s early morning cardio class prework, and Dane’s evening barre class if you require some extra motivation to push yourself after a long day. Also note: There’s usually plenty of free street parking before 8 a.m., and at any other time, you can park into the public garage underneath the Santa Monica Public Library a block away. For one-on-one instruction, book time at the private studio a couple of doors down.
Alchemie Spa2021 Main St., Santa Monica, Los Angeles | 310.310.8880
The space is an eco-haven, designed with renewable, sustainable flourishes (the walls are made of cork, seagrass, and recycled wood)—and the facials are healing, pampering, and just: beyond. The Custom Superfood Facial floods skin with nutrients from tamarind, acai, turmeric, and manuka honey, while the Enlightening Ormus treatment’s miracle trifecta of microcurrent, LED light, and nurturing essential oil blends thoroughly revives skin. The infrared saunas are each tucked into a cozy private room with a shower—and they aren’t hooked up to Bluetooth, which means the promise of a genuine digital detox, too.