121pilot, our resident pilot on Live and Let’s Fly, recently stayed at the Westin Bonaventure during a crew layover in Los Angeles. He graciously composed the review below, which gives insight into how full-service hotels are dealing with the pandemic.
It seems odd to be writing a review of a hotel at a time when travel has come to nearly a complete halt. Airports are virtually deserted, flights are empty, restaurants closed, and it would seem the face mask has become the new fashion. The scariest part of all this as an airline pilot is not knowing what the future looks like or for how long our new normal will last.
But it will pass and people will return to traveling. Which means that hotel and flight reviews still have a place. Normally when work takes me to the LA basin instead of going to the layover hotel, I’d be headed to see my parents or other family who live in the area. But my parents are in the high-risk age bracket for the virus so on this layover, not wanting to take chances, I went to the layover hotel, which in this case was the Westin Bonaventure in Downtown LA.
Westin Bonaventure During COVID-19
Because of Corona virus concerns much of the hotel was shutdown (restaurants, pool, gym), and I was given the letter below upon check-in.
My First Officer ended up ordering the burger for dinner and said it was both perfectly cooked and excellent. I went with Uber Eats from a local restaurant.
Westin Bonaventure Food + Drink
The Westin is an interesting hotel with four tall cylinders of rooms arranged around a central core. The towers are color coded, but the central connection means that even if you took the wrong elevator to your room, you would be able to get to your tower. On the lower floors of the hotel the central core hosts the check in desks as well as several levels of restaurants and shopping. The hotel was built in the 1970’s, but it seems to have been well cared for and updated over time.
I found the lobby to be beautiful and relaxing. There is a bar in the center with chairs around it and several ponds. The water flowing in the ponds serves to both dampen noise in the lobby and create a feeling of tranquility. The central bar features beautiful wood paneling and as you walk the circle around it, you find a variety of seating areas where you could relax and have a drink or a bite to eat.
The Lakeview Bistro seemed to be the “main” hotel restaurant though it was closed during my stay. As you can see, it is set up to have a buffet so I suspect in normal times this is where you would be able to get breakfast.
Westin Bonaventure Spa + Fitness
On the third floor there is what looks like a jogging track around the central core. There is also a large spa though it was closed as well.
The hotel gym appears be a very well equipped with plenty of weights and lifting machines in addition to the usual treadmills. The gym was also closed because of virus precautions so all I could do was look through the window.
There are multiple restaurants as well as a convenience store, salon, and other small business in the “mall” area on the 3rd through 5th floors.
On the fourth floor (which oddly is not a stop for the elevators) is the pool and outside deck area. This was also closed; it would be a pretty nice area when open. There is also another restaurant which uses part of the patio as an outdoor eating area. This restaurant has an in-house brewery some of which is on display in an enclosure outside.
There is also a steak house revolving restaurant on the top floor which is supposed to have amazing views. Sadly, it too was closed during my stay.
Westin Bonaventure Guest Room
Finally, my room was not large, but it was comfortable with the usual amenities. The desk had a good supply of power ports which I appreciated though I did find having the coffee station there cramped things a bit. Only one nightstand had power which was a bit disappointing. Why hotels have not figured out that you need outlets readily accessible on both sides of the bed is beyond me. The bathroom was nice, and I appreciated the rainfall shower head. The bed was very comfortable and I slept well though the AC was apparently turned off. I set the unit well down when I went to bed, but it never cooled the room. I suspect that it may be a single mode system, or that the hotel had its chillers turned off.
The Westin Bonaventure is a nice hotel in what seems to be a good location downtown. My room was comfortable, the bed nice, and in normal times the hotel would offer a great gym and nice selection of places to eat without walking outside. There is much to recommend it and little I found to criticize based on my stay. If you need a hotel downtown its certainly worth considering.
Review Update: Suite Upgrade
A few weeks after my initial stay and writing of this review, I had another layover that returned me to the Westin Bonaventure. I ended up being assigned a suite because my first two rooms had hairs still in the bathroom sink. This led me to believe that it was likely those rooms had not been properly cleaned and to request a new room. My suite had two rooms, a bedroom and a sitting area, along with a second half bath off the sitting area. All in all it was a nice room and the additional space compared to a standard room was certainly appreciated.
Each suite seems to be about the size of two standard rooms. The one odd element was the doors that divided the two areas. As you can see in the pictures, they used a slatted door as the divider. The problem this has is that it was quite easy to see through it. I don’t think the pictures really show it, but because of the slats the door provides almost zero privacy between the sitting room and the bedroom. So, while this suite would work well for someone who just wanted the extra space, it would not work at all if you had an expectation of being able to have two private spaces like you would get with a normal door.