Travel Diary: Stella von Senger in California

Stella and her family spent a month travelling around California. For hey woman! she reviews her vacation and reveals a few secret tips

There’s no other place I’d rather have a jet lag than in Los Angeles. I can’t really say why it took us three years to fly back out here. I think it came with a certain fear – wondering whether it would be the same with a child or us seriously taking into consideration moving back here again. Since we left Los Angeles in 2015 to move back to Germany, we’ve had this endless longing for the city. So we spent a month there in February. As beautiful as it was, we came to the conclusion (thank God!) that we are absolutely fine in Berlin and Los Angeles will remain a holiday destination.

We spent the first ten days in our old hood. Thanks to Airbnb, we had a wonderful home in the Silver Lake Hills with a garden, kitchen and even a children’s bedroom.

The best part of our road trip was saved for last: with the Rimowa suitcases packed again, we got the chance to cruise around in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class for a week. We drive a real jalopy at home. I used to be totally fine with having a car that gets you from A to B. But now I got a taste for something better and I wish having this feeling again of almost gliding weightlessly and silently through the streets. If you want, the S-Class can park on its own. There is a massage function and even an entire mood package: Depending on your needs the car adjusts the music, color, smell and massage. All this fancy stuff is as cheesy as it is satisfying. On the first day of having the car we went straight to Palm Springs.

For everyone planning on travelling to California, here are my recommendations:

A perfect morning in LA

Griffith Observatory

On our first night in LA we went to watch the sunrise at Griffith Observatory. The next few days we hiked all the way up every morning. Watching the sunrise from up there is an incomparable experience. Everyone who takes the time to go there before work just glows from the inside and it shows on the outside. Back when I used to study in LA, this was my daily walk. There’s too little walking involved when you’re in LA anyways.

2800 E Observatory Road
Los Angeles 
CA 90027

Sqirl

We like going to Sqirl for breakfast. I’d suggest going there on one of your first days in LA, when you’re still waking up early, to avoid endless queues. The food really is fantastic but I’ll never understand the long waits in LA. I’d never think of standing in line for food in Berlin.

720 N Virgil Ave #4
Los Angeles 
CA 90029

Farmshop

If you get lost in the far West and you can spare a dollar or two, going to Farmshop for breakfast or dinner is the right call. In the midst of a wondrous Brentwood Mall, you can feast while sitting next to the low-key super rich. Reese Witherspoon sat next to us. But no one really cares about those things in LA. Celebrity sightings are about as exciting as the iced coffee at Starbucks.

225 26th St #25 
Santa Monica
CA 90402

Fountain Coffee Room

The worst and most expensive but also the most charming breakfast is served at the Fountain Coffee Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It has such a special vibe making it worth your visit (this is also where Chiara Ferragni walked passed me, btw). It is similar to Chateau Marmont: the food really isn’t worth mentioning and the celebrities – or those who want to be celebs themselves or want to spot them – are extremely annoying. Nevertheless, this place has a unique atmosphere if you’re able to overlook the rest.

9641 Sunset Boulevard 
Beverly Hills 
CA 90210

Shopping L.A.

Mohawk General Store

Mohawk General Store is by far my most beloved shop in Silver Lake. This is where I bought my first Jacquemus pants four years ago and I start to languish as soon as I enter the store. Honestly, it has consistently shaped my style.

4011 Sunset Boulevard 
Los Angeles
CA 90029

The Row

The The Row store cannot be compared to any other luxury store. I want to cry when I think about how pretty everything in there is.

8440 Melrose Place
Los Angeles
CA 90069

Cookbookla

My greatest luxury would be to buy fresh fruits and veggies at Cookbookla, a mini organic store in Echo Park. Because even Whole Foods is completely overwhelming to me due to the enormous selection – there’s just too much and always in huge quantities. At Cookbookla, everything is next level. Just by entering the store you’ll be filled with joy and immediately feel relaxed.

1549 Echo Park Ave 
Los Angeles 
CA 90026

A perfect evening in L.A.

Café Stella

Café Stella has its very own standing with me. Not just because of the name, but also because I’ve spent amazing nights here as a single many years ago (Bar Stella makes the best whiskey sours) and never-ending date nights with Cecil. I also came here for brunch with my friends and my family – and now as our own little family with my child. They make the best moules frites in town and the atmosphere is extraordinarily romantic.

3932 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles 
CA 90029

MhZh

MhZh counts as one of my top dinner spots on the east side. It’s an Israeli restaurant with very low-priced meals and no alcohol license, which is why the sublime food is so cheap.

3536 Sunset Boulevard 
Los Angeles
CA 90026

Night and Market Song

I can highly recommend Night and Market Song. Personally, I think this Thai restaurant serves better food than they do in Thailand.

3322 Sunset Boulevard 
Los Angeles
CA 90026

Navel

My friends Caspar and Jonas own this wonderful place downtown called Navel. They’ve done everything by themselves and everyone who’s staying in LA should have a look at their program. We went to a moving sunset dance performance and to a hilarious queer comedy night. If you love comedy, you should spoil yourself with a visit to the Citizens Brigade Theater or the Comedy Store. We went to both and had a blast, as usual.

1611 S Hope St 
Los Angeles 
CA 90015

The perfect road trip

Enough about LA. One of our highlights was the road trip with a camping car. It was exceptional and left me feeling like I never want to spend my holidays any other way again. Actually I don’t want to say that much, the pictures really speak for themselves.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is a magical place with truly energizing miraculous powers. I’ve never been to a better place. Sitting under a sky full of stars by the stone vaults and in front of a fire, and actually sleeping there is the best thing you can gift to yourself.

In-N-Out

Don’t forget to stop at In-N-Out. Here goes Cecil’s pro order: animal style burger without tomatoes with triple meat and double cheese. After so many years of experience, this must be the real deal.

Yoga in L.A.

If you’re in LA for a short period of time but you still want to get your yoga sessions in, you can get a two-week yoga pass for 30 dollars (really low-priced for yoga and LA) in the small, very unpretentious studio Yoga at the Raven. I did a handstand next to top model Abbey Lee Kershaw. The spa next door offers great Thai massages and the cute Broome General Store with the coffee shop is also worth a visit.

2910 Rowena Ave
Los Angeles
CA 90039

Art and Architecture

My architectural highlights were a visit at the Eames House and the VDL Neutra House. Besides that, Sprüth Magers has unbelievably beautiful gallery spaces opposite LACMA, which is a must-see anyway. The garden of the Getty Center turns this place into a gem. During the week the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena are worth the drive. Plus, there’s also the Norton Museum.

Staying in Palm Springs

At the end of our travels, while on the road with the S-Class, we had booked two more nights at the Amado. It’s a really cute place with five small apartments and a shared pool. It’s much more personal and charming compared to those big, somewhat dried-out complex buildings like the Ace Hotel or Parker Bowles.

1821 E Amado Road
Palm Springs
CA 92262

– Special thanks to Airbnb, Mercedes-Benz & Rimowa for the support –

Stella von Senger und Etterlin was born and raised in Berlin. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Make-Up for Theatre and Film at August Everding University in Munich in 2013. After living in Paris and New York, she travelled around the world before pursuing her Masters of Special Effects SFX in Los Angeles. Along the way, she’s been doing hair and make-up for magazines such as Vogue, L'officiel, Qvest, Stern Mode, Condé Nast Traveller, and many more. She and her family have just recently moved back to Berlin.