Belfast Telegraph

Los Angeles: Tinseltown is a reel pleasure

Charlie Chaplin's one-time hotel home is fit for an A-list star.

By Martin Breen

If you’re planning on a trip to Tinseltown surely you have to stay somewhere fit for an A list star.

During a recent trip, thanks to Aer Lingus’ new direct flight from Dublin to Los Angeles, I found myself resting my head in a hotel comic actor Charlie Chaplin once called home - the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Situated in the heart of Downtown LA, Chaplin lived in this private club for long periods during his first decade in California and in his autobiography, he praised its sports facilities which include an Olympic-sized pool, cycling studio, squash courts, billiards room, and an indoor running track. All of these are open to hotel guests and are as exceptional today as back during his stay a century ago.

While this hotel may boast such excellent sports facilities my most vigorous workout was during an early morning hike in the Hollywood hills which brought me face to face with the iconic 45-foot tall Hollywood sign. The area is also home to a mountain lion, hyenas and rattlesnakes but thankfully I did not come face to face with any of them!

Ascending the hills of Griffith Park the view of LA was breathtaking and when you first grab a glimpse of the Hollywood sign it all seems so familiar, I suppose it should, given the thousands of TV shows and films it has featured in.

You will recognise many movie locations on your hike as the park featured in several movies including Back to the Future and Batman.

Our guide, Stephen Spano, gave us an array of fascinating facts about the area and LA during a brilliant two-and-a-half hour hike. He even pointed out the entrance to the Batcave in the Batman television series of the 1960s.

From the summit of Mount Hollywood you can see all of Los Angeles including the skyscrapers downtown right out to the coast in Santa Monica.

To get the real Hollywood feel you need to head down to Hollywood Boulevard where you will find the walk of fame, with 25,000 stars over 15 blocks. One particular favourite for selfies seemed to be the star for Donald Trump. You would almost think he was running for president given the reaction...

Other famous locations on the boulevard include the Dolby Theatre (home of the Oscars) and the Chinese Theatre which is famous for the foot and hand prints of some very famous faces including Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, Michael Jackson and George Clooney.

Back downtown in the City of Angels there are many cool and creative districts to explore. Among those hipster havens I ventured into was the Arts District which has been transformed into a vibrant and colourful area of the city showcasing murals on walls and gates along several streets. It is now a thriving mecca for young professionals in the creative industries, including LA’s film and TV scene.

We went on an early morning stroll in Echo Park, an area actor Leonardo di Caprio used to call home and which has just undergone a $45million facelift. Check it out and consider going paddle-boating on its lake. In the area you will also find the famous Dodgers Stadium.

With all that walking it was time for refreshments and where better than the Angel City Brewery which produces a fantastic range of beers. My favourite was the quite unique Srirachelada. I love beer and spicy food and this drink combines all as the ingredients include Sriracha chilli sauce, lime juice, pickled banana pepper juice and Worcestershire Sauce.

If you’re a foodie make sure to check out the 30,000 square-foot Grand Central Market where you will find a huge selection to satisfy every palate, including Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, burger and pizza.

Also walk down Sunset Boulevard in the Silver Lake area, a very hip neighbourhood which is home to some very cool coffee shops, one-of-a-kind boutiques and fantastic restaurants and is where Walt Disney had his first film studio.

On this trip I didn’t get a chance to visit the area’s theme parks but I do intend to return in the not distant future to spend some time at Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland. I am already California Dreamin’...

Travel Factfile

Plan your trip

Discover Los Angeles - for more details, visit the official visitor information website of Los Angeles at, follow L.A. Tourism’s Facebook page at, or follow @discoverLA on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Where to stay

Los Angeles Athletic Club, 431 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014, United States. For more information visit

What to do

You can book a biking or hiking trip with Bikes and Hikes LA. They offer four daily tours - LA in a Day Bike Adventure, Hollywood Bike Adventure, Movie Star Homes Bike Adventure and the Hollywood Hills Hike. Check out

U.S Customs and Border Protection Pre-clearance

- Full U.S Customs and Border Protection Pre-clearance processing is completed at Dublin airport in one quick and easy procedure meaning Aer Lingus guests clear U.S immigration and customs before departing to the U.S. Ireland is the only European country to offer these state-of-the-art facilities and means that guests travelling to the U.S via Ireland are seen as domestic arriving passengers. Described by Aer Lingus as ‘you can arrive before you depart’, this enables a speedy exit on arrival.

Getting there

Aer Lingus operates a four times weekly year-round service direct from Dublin to Los Angeles. Each-way fares including taxes and charges start from €299 for travel during September and October. For further information visit

Wifi and Business Class

- Aer Lingus also offers wifi access on board transatlantic flights allowing customers to stay connected with up to date news and to work throughout their flight. In addition the airline has partnership agreements with U.S carriers JetBlue and United Airlines, enabling onward connections to over 100 destinations across North America.

- Aer Lingus has a new business class service in its long haul fleet of A330 aircraft. The business cabins are fitted with full lie-flat seating, an extensive in-flight entertainment selection and new menus offering the best of modern Irish cuisine and a selection of wines to complement each dish.

- The ‘Revival Lounge’ at Dublin airport offers Business Class guests arriving into Dublin from North America the opportunity to refresh before departing the airport. The lounge offers a range of facilities upon arrival including premium changing and shower facilities, steam pressing of shirts on request, wifi, refreshments and a waiting area with TV.

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