A few years back we travelled across to the United States of America where we travelled to New York, Syracuse, Niagara Falls, Las Vegas and finished our trip with a week over Christmas in Los Angeles. We stayed at the Crown Plaza in Beverly Hills – which didn’t come cheap – and the rooms were the worst we stayed in while in America. The rooms were noisy, bed itchy…. Then the door man tried to rip us off one too many times by tipping off cabbies that we were foreigners… Not a pleasant stay. The one thing I will give the hotel, their restaurant was great as we were too scared to venture out at night (The quesadilla’s are perfection!)
Beverly Hills has not a lot to it, sure the houses are nice, but for things to do, there isn’t much. We ate at the best burger place ever, The Burger Lounge, which thankfully was relatively close to where we stayed and service was always nice and friendly.
There are a number of things to be extremely wary of in LA, and one is – do not trust the taxi drivers, we had a number of incidents over their but the worst was on Christmas Day.
As we were leaving our hotel to head to Universal Studios for the day, the door man asked us where we were going, after we mentioned it, he started babbling about how cab fares are more expensive today because it is Christmas, etc; we said no it isn’t and we went to walk off to grab a taxi from the street but as soon as we told him we were going he nodded to someone across the street and they quickly drove up and stopped right in front of us, essentially cornering us there and then. We tried to explain it is fine we needed to do something but they wouldn’t give up, so we hopped in in defeat… Then, the doorman quickly told the cabbie in a whispered tone “they’re from overseas” and then the taxi took off.
Thankfully, my husband is a smart cookie and had his Google Maps open while we were driving and already had three different routes to Universal set in, because what we saw was the taxi driver was taking us further and further away from Universal, and when we enquired, he said “Shortcut! Shortcut!”. After a few more minutes of driving further away, we told him to stop the taxi and pull over and we showed him our map, he said he had only been “working for two weeks” and we told him to reset the metre and go from where we were – bear in mind the meter was already at $36 USD when it should have been only $34USD (yes, we pre-plan and looked it up on the fare predictor website).
While we were going the way my husband was directing the driver, I found in the back an information sheet on the driver and it stated that he had been a taxi driver FOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS! Now I was fuming!!! I quickly jotted down the number of the taxi company he worked for to make a complaint about the incidents so far and then the next thing happened… When we FINALLY got to Universal Studios, the meter (after being re-set) was now $30 USD, so we went to pay that amount but he turned around and chucked us the $36 USD receipt to try to make us pay for that too! And when we turned around and told him bluntly, there is no way in hell we are paying the first fare, he starts yelling out “where is my tip?!” are you kidding me?!
We tipped very generously when we were in the States, well above their minimum amount, but why would we tip you when you blatantly tried to rip us off? So we filed a complaint shortly after… Not the best start to Christmas Day…But we continued on and spent a fairly enjoyable day at Universal Studios, using our VIP Pass to bypass the large crowds there.
Then, another incident that happened while in LA was when we were walking back to the hotel from another mouth-watering burger, going past the convenience store/mart we were beginning to frequent, we were all of a sudden surrounded by at least six police cars who then pulled their guns on an old homeless man… Turns out he stole a $20 bottle of vodka! Jees Louise, one way to get your adrenaline pumping I tell you!!!
Then, one night while we were there, we went to head out to the Walk of Fame/Chinese Theatre, the receptionist asked us where we were off to, we told her and her face went white and she started telling us, “Oh no you cannot go out now no no no it’s getting dark and late and it isn’t safe at all to go there after dark.” We looked at each other wondering why on earth for and she continued, “lots of muggings and stealings….” That settled it for us, no going out after dark!
One positive about LA – IT HAS DISNEYLAND!!! I love everything Disney, as most people know, and I felt right at home at Disneyland. If you ever do happen to venture to LA, you must make a day trip to Disneyland, it is worth it, and would be the only reason I would ever step foot back in LA.
The best shopping we had whilst in LA was when we went to The Grove for part of a day. We stopped first to have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory before hitting a few of the shops there (and yes we had to buy yet another suitcase!) and finished with a browse of The Farmers Market that they famously have set up there.
As you can see, LA wasn’t exactly our favourite part when travelling the USA. Sure, I loved Disneyland, and Universal Studios was pretty cool, but other than that, not much excited us or has given us a burning desire to return for longer than a day or two.
Crown Plaza Beverly Hills
Places to eat
Burger Lounge, Beverly Hills
Things to do