Where I Live

Kelly Wearstler Turned the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel Into a Serene, Color-Soaked Retreat—Step Inside!

She can do no wrong.

By Caitlin Clark
kelly wearstler downtown LA proper hotel_lobby

There’s an undeniable cool factor to all of the Proper Hotels. With a design spearheaded by the master of modern glamour, Kelly Wearstler, and collaborations with the most innovative wellness and culinary pros in the city, a Proper is as much a local gathering place for creatives as it is a sought-after spot for design-minded travelers. It helps that outposts are currently few and far between—you can count the number of hotels on one hand. Last fall, downtown Los Angeles joined Austin, San Francisco, and Santa Monica when it became home to the latest Proper destination. After years of anticipation, the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel has finally opened its doors in the neighborhood’s booming South Park district.

Of course, Wearstler didn’t hold back with her panache for fusing color, pattern, texture, and vintage in one space—it’s loud, fun, and in your face and we love it! But she definitely took it up a notch when she designed the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel. Scroll on to step inside the historical property and explore Wearstler’s latest color-soaked project.

*hotel and rooftop photography by The Ingalls

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A Hollywood Icon Reimagined

Wearstler projects always have a glamorous air, but the newest Proper destination arrived with a built-in allure. The development process included the careful restoration of a historical landmark with Old Hollywood origins: a 1920s-era renaissance revival building by iconic L.A. architects Curlett & Beelman. Initially, a stylish private club frequented by Cecil B. DeMille and Harry Warner in its heyday, the stately, 13-story structure served as a YWCA in the ’60s—two novelty suites make use of a vintage basketball court and indoor swimming pool. 

Led by the award-winning development team, KOR Group the adaptive reuse project took three years to complete and left Wearstler with an incredible canvas to bring the 1920s icon back to vibrant life.

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A Proper Look

With the vestiges of Curlett & Beeman’s work as her base, Wearstler blended the ideals of Mexican modernism (an artistic movement that first flourished in the 1920s) with elements of Portuguese, Spanish, and Moroccan design as a nod to the South Park neighborhood’s multicultural roots. The result is an immersive, intoxicating world of color and warmth.

As referenced above, local collaboration is a key component to all Proper hotels, including in the design process. Wearstler enlisted a group of L.A. artists for custom murals and installations—Abel Macias painted a mélange of Mexican folk art animals in the lobby, glass artisan Judson Studios created a striking stained-glass structure that guides guests to the lobby level’s Caldo Verde restaurant, and ceramic murals by Ben Medansky and Morgan Peck pop with dimension in the Proper pool suite and front desk.

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The Rooms

Downtown L.A. Proper’s 148 guest rooms are far from cookie cutter. Vintage furnishings, original window casings, and Wearstler’s fearless approach to gorgeous color create spaces that are homey and inspired. Designed to evoke a residential feel, Proper suites are built for entertaining, while all rooms offer slick views of DTLA surroundings.

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The Little Things

A great hotel stay is all in the details, and Proper always does a thoughtful job. Luxury Aussie skincare line Aesop stocks the bathroom with full-size products, a collab between Wearstler and Parachute has your plush robe needs covered, while Vifa speakers let your personalize your room’s soundtrack.  

Additional amenities include complimentary bikes, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a heated rooftop pool. Visitors and locals can also utilize the 2,600-square-foot historic Cabrillo Club venue, the private screen suite (fashioned from the aforementioned vintage basketball court), and the 2,500-square-foot pool suite which features Medansky’s stunning ivory ceramic mural.

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Drinking and Dining

Destination restaurants are a big part of the Proper deal. For downtown Los Angeles, the hotel group tasked James Beard Foundation Award winners and partners Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne with a dual restaurant and lounge concept.

Downtown Los Angeles Proper’s signature spot is Caldo Verde, a loungey, lobby-level space serving Portuguese- and Spanish-influenced breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Expect dishes like chorizo and eggs with sofrito, hearty salads, prime rib eye with Alentejo butter, and the restaurant’s namesake dish: a Portuguese soup made with local rock crab, kale, and grilled linguiça.

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downtown LA proper hotel_dining

*Cara Cara photography by Dylan + Jeni

Caldo Verde’s sister spot is Cara Cara, a poolside haunt with Piri Piri fried chicken, tacos, and refreshing cocktails to sip while you take in the panoramic downtown views from the Proper rooftop.

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The Neighborhood

What’s outside your door is always crucial when deciding on a hotel, but perhaps never more so when you’re in L.A., where a few miles can turn into a few hours in traffic. Fortunately, South Park has plenty to offer. Downtown L.A. Proper is situated at the corner of 11th and Broadway, making DTLA architectural tours and destinations like The Broad Museum, MOCA, or the Crypto.com Arena (née the Staples Center) within walkable reach.