London Ladies Calling: A West Hollywood Star Boutique Hotel Reveals its Softer Side

The London in West Hollywood is showing its feminine side these days.  The luxury hotel recently hosted a luncheon for women social media influencers to show off its features for women travelers.  The attendees were given a top-down tour of the property, beginning with the panoramic rooftop pool deck where the hotel – known for its Gordon Ramsey restaurant – served an elegant lunch from the hotel’s Boxwood Café, with a few surprises, such as gourmet hot dogs.

The five-star hotel celebrates its four-year anniversary this year since it took over and remodeled the former Belage Hotel.  A fresh shiny look that takes its inspiration from the bright lights of Hollywood beams throughout the hotel, from reflective chrome tiles that highlight the front exterior to well-lighted hallways that are the antithesis of the dim (and creepy) walkways of today’s many try-chic boutique hotels.

Besides the safer-feeling hallways, women will love the large bathroom, expanded dressing area and vanities in the guest rooms.  For those who love to primp, the hotel has discreetly placed mirrors throughout the lobby.  Another nice touch, literally, is the faux suede wall coverings, though I would hate to be the one to brush the nap every day, which reportedly employees three full-time staff. 

The hotel also features all the modern amenities for today’s wired woman, such a s hi-fi and wi-fi, including a port to connect your laptop for streaming to your TV.

Not last at all is the hotel’s Michelin-rated Gordon Ramsey restaurant with adorable cozy baby blue and pink kid-soft-leather booths where you can cuddle with a romantic date and indulge in a delectable, heavenly menu that only the master of Hell’s Kitchen could produce, or you can hang at the ultra-hip London Bar.

Best part is you don’t have to Tube it to get there, as The London is in the heart of the “Most Walkable City in the US.”

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Get the Most Out of Your Family Portrait: Top LA Photographer Stuart Townsley Offers Practical Advice



Family portraits can preserve cherished memories to last a lifetime.  Capture your family’s unique personality and enjoy your experience of a family photo session by choosing your photographer wisely and following a few tips from one of Los Angeles’ premier family photographers, Stuart Townsley (


Townsley has photographed celebrities and families from all walks of life, and no matter what the budget, Townsley advises some general guidelines that will enhance your experience and help you to avoid come common pitfalls.


Dress for Success


Clothes – Don’t dress the whole family alike, “Unless you are going for the 80s music video look,” jokes Townsley.  Wear comfortable clothes that fit properly.  Don’t put children in over-sized clothes bought for them to “grow into.” 


Women, beware of low necklines that might reveal too much, and make sure bra straps are anchored. 


Men, if you wear gym shoes, make sure they are clean and new looking.  Empty your pockets of keys and other items that will make clothing look lumpy.


Hats – Beware of covering too much of the face. Take shots both with and without the hat.


Easy on the Accessories


Props – Avoid scuffed or dirty toys, which will detract from a photo, or lollipops, popsicles or other foods and drinks that might stain a child’s mouth or clothes.  Be cautions about taking away props, such as pacifiers or rattles, which could result in un-photogenic tears or tantrums. 


Eye glasses – Wear anti-reflective lenses, and avoid transitional lenses that get darker in bright light.  Don’t hold glasses in your hands or behind your back in photos.


Jewelry – Unless you have a shiny Rolex you want to show off, remove your everyday watch.


Pets – Animals can add a lot of fun to a photo, but it will add a degree of difficulty to your session, so it’s best to plan on just a few poses with the pet.


Plan Ahead


Promptness – Don’t expect kids to sit still and wait around for long periods of time.  Your family should arrive ready to go.


 Be Yourself


Relax and enjoy the experience.  Interact with your family naturally.  The best shots are often those taken between poses when everyone forgets about the camera and just has fun.


Choose Your Photographer Wisely


Get referrals from family and friends who had a good experience with their photographer.  Check out the photographer’s website and reviews, such as on Yelp. 


Ask for pricing upfront.  A photographer who offers a lower sitting fee and the option to buy only the shots you like is preferable to a deal that locks you into buying a package sight unseen. 


Talk to the photographer by phone or in person before your session to get an idea of how the session will go.  A friendly and personable photographer will help everyone feel comfortable and relaxed so that they can enjoy the experience, and your family’s unique dynamics and personality will shine through.


My First Bike: LA Bike Expert Offers 10 Tips for Choosing a Training Bike and Teaching a Child to Ride


It’s an enduring memory for every parent when a child takes off pedaling for the first time on a two-wheeler.  That thrill of independence and the rush of the sidewalk under the tires can be the start of a life-long enjoyment of bicycling — that is if the child is ready to ride, according to Santa Monica’s Performance Bicycle store sales associate Jarrin Black.


“If the child is ready, and he or she has the right equipment, then the experience will be a positive one, and the child will want to keep riding,” said Black, who specializes in fitting children for bicycles.


Black recommends the following guidelines for parents who are purchasing a first bike for children and preparing them to ride it for the first time.


1.  Safety first.  It’s a no brainer that kids should wear a helmet.  In fact, Performance Bicycle does not let children test ride a bike without one.  Pick a helmet that fits comfortably and that your child likes, so that he or she will enjoy wearing it.  Tip:  have them try it on and wear it around the house to get used to it, and enforce a “No helmet, no ride” rule.


2.  Color matters.  Silly as it sounds, color may be one of the most important factors in selecting a bike, because if junior doesn’t like the color, he won’t ride it.  This is where The Performance guarantee comes in handy.  If your child isn’t 100-percent happy with the bike, you can bring it back and exchange it in 90 days.  Even after the time period expires, if there is a problem, the shop will work with you to find a solution.


3.  Go slowly.  Tricycles are a great first step, and balance bikes are huge leap in helping a child gain coordination and balancing skills for bicycling.  When children have mastered trikes and balance bikes and seem bored with them, then it is time to graduate to a two-wheeler, with training wheels to start.


4.  Don’t Push.  Wait until a child shows signs of being physically and mentally ready for a bike, and literally, don’t push.  Let the child ease into pushing off and riding when he or she is comfortable, and never give a bike a shove with a child on it and expect them to “sink or swim.”


5.  Consider quality.  Cheaper is not always better.  You may pay a few dollars more when you buy from a bike shop versus a department store, but at a bike shop you can be assured that the bike was hand built by a professional mechanic, and you will get service and adjustments that do not come with bikes sold by mass retailers. Also beware of off-sized parts with mass-produced bikes as they may require special tools to make adjustments.


6.  Get the right bike.  Fit is key for a first bike, and the fit may depend on comfort rather than what a chart says is right for your child, though charts like the Grow Up With Performance chart online at can be a helpful guide, particularly if you are ordering online. 


If possible, bring your child with you to choose a bike.  Toddler bikes range from 12” (2 to 4 years) to 16” (4 to 6 years), though size is a better gauge than age in choosing a frame size.  As a rule, the child should be able to stand over the top tube with at least an inch or two of clearance.  Girls’ style bikes generally offer even more clearance.  When seated, they should be able to touch the floor with tippy toes or the balls of feet.  Arms should be relaxed and slightly bent.  Parents should resist the urge to buy a too-big bike so that a child will grow into it.  At Performance Bicycle, their Growth Guarantee program offers discounts of 10 to 15 percent when you upgrade your child’s bike to the next size.


7.  Keep it up.  Over time a bike needs tune ups to maintain it.  Another advantage to buying at a bike shop like Performance is that minor adjustments are included in the purchase price for the lifetime of the bike.   Parents should check a bike regularly to make sure bolts are tightened, gears and wheels are aligned and all moving parts are working together smoothly.  Warning, use only bike chain grease and not WD-40 as the popular lubricant can actually cause a chain to lock up. 


8.  Gear up.  Make sure your child has all the accoutrements to ride safety.  Besides the mandatory helmet, there’s a bell so that she can give audible signals when approaching another bike; a head light and flashing rear reflector which are required by law after dark in some jurisdictions, including Santa Monica; and for the aggressive rider, consider adding a hand break for extra stopping power and to get little ones ready for their next, more-advanced bike with hand breaks.


9.  Get to know your mechanic.  There’s nothing like the service of a reliable mechanic to give you confidence in the quality assembly and maintenance of your bike.  At Performance, the man known to all simply as “Jorge” has diagnosed and fixed bike problems that other shops gave up on, and he’s been doing it for 35 years.


10.  Enjoy the ride.  Equality important as teaching kids the rules of the road, i.e., ride to the right, pass with care, pull over to stop, etc., is showing them how to enjoy the experience of bike riding.  Bike riding together is not only terrific exercise for everyone but also a great family activity.  Cruise the bike path from Venice to Santa Monica (avoiding the busiest hours between 6-9 am), enjoy the scenery, and stop for ice cream along the way.  Make a day of biking, and make a day of great memories.



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