Johnnie Sapong: off-kilter LA

Internationally acclaimed groomer and hairstylist, Johnnie Sapong has cut and crimped the hair of a galaxy of stars, working with many of the world’s best photographers including Annie Leibovitz and Ellen von Unwerth, and for a roll call of the great fashion houses – among them Dior, Givenchy and Gucci. We talked to our Englishman in LA for his tips on how to find glimpses of the Old World in the New

The Magic Castle Hotel

Everybody from Houdini to David Blaine has played the Magic Castle club in the Hollywood Hills. It’s seen all sorts of sorcery: tigers, tricks, jumping through hoops, and it’s steeped in Hollywood legend and mystery. In the past you had to be a member to go, but now you can get in by staying at their hotel. The rooms are self-contained apartments and it’s right next to an iconic old-school Japanese restaurant called Yamashiro, which you can order food from. I stayed here for the first few months that I was in Los Angeles, and my kids got very used to the fact that they would wake up in the morning, and someone would be doing magic at their table while they were having breakfast. 

The Magic Castle Hotel,7025 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood CA 90028; magiccastlehotel.com

The Daily Pint

There’s a difference between a pub and a bar or a café. And there’s a good old-fashioned pub over in Santa Monica called the Daily Pint. It’s a pretty authentic place and not very touristy with proper drinks and a barman who doesn’t know your name but acts like he does. It’s a stone’s throw from the beach, which makes you feel like you could be in San Sebastian or down in Brighton. They have the football on but really it’s all about the atmosphere: everyone’s very jolly. 

The Daily Pint, 2310 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405; thedailypint.net

The Hotel Bel-Air

My all-time favourite place for brunch is the Bel-Air. It’s all about the gardens and the ambience; they’ve got their own swans. There’s a salon in the hotel run by an old English hairdresser called Joseph Martin and it’s set in a few acres of gardens with lovely little bungalows all over the place. We like to have some brunch, have a mimosa and then walk around the grounds – there’s something about the swans that makes you feel like you’re in a Royal Park.

The Hotel Bel-Air, 701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles CA 90077; dorchestercollection.com/en/offers/hotel-bel-air

Johnnie Sapong is an international session stylist; thewallgroup.com/artist/johnnie-sapong

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