Blue Room: Olde Club Meets New Downtown

The historic Los Angeles Athletic Club retreat is full of warm tones and vintage artifacts.

What were you doing in 1912?

If you were in hobnobbing distance of Olive and 7th downtown, you were likely making connections and sealing deals at the Los Angeles Athletic Club's Blue Room, a gathering place for the city's "best and brightest."

But while many 1912-y locations have been lost to time (read: wrecking balls), Blue Room has re-emerged at the swanky-sportsy hotel. And it looks for all the world like two minutes have passed since the last customer, probably in some sort of top hat and muttonchops, stepped outside to check on his carriage.

The fourth floor steal-a-way, which feels as private as a castle's secret passage, recently re-debuted with a book- and photo-laden design by Timothy Oulton. The storybook atmosphere is upped by the hidden staircase that spirits guests from the Invention Bar on the third floor to Blue Room on the fourth.

Oh yes; it's behind a bookcase, all righty. There's a whiff of an Agatha Christie novel in the air, and if you wore your Miss Marple tweeds, you would not be out of place in the low-lit, chandelier-heavy and insignia-dotted interior.

Athletic equipment from another day is also plentiful, as fits the location.

Some of the furniture is nicely and pricely mismatched, as one might expect to see in the manor of a beloved aunt and the snapshots have a sepia-sweet ye-olde mien, as though you might come across your mom's dad's mom in the background of one.

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Signature sips are in the glasses and Scotch aficionados are in some kind of luck: The Macallan and Los Angeles Athletic Club have "forged a partnership," so look for the Highland single malt Scotch whisky to be making several cocktail cameos (as well as being proffered neat). 

As for famous co-imbibers and co-revelers who once frequented the club? L. Frank Baum, the writer of "The Wizard of Oz," Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Walt Disney, and Harold Lloyd all were Blue Room buffs back in the day.

And in our day? It's interesting to see a nook-ish, tucked-away aesthetic in a sun-drenched city that's fond of its windows and sun access. Call it a reminder that we're still a writerly city, like we were in Baum's time, and writers like gathering in cozy spots to discuss plot and character and twists and such (or so writer's manuals tell us).

Even if your carriage is in the shop and your top hat at the milliner's, you can still visit the olde-newe bar, no 1912 accessories required (though absolutely in the spirit of the space).  

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