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Tour du Jour / Up on the Roof

November 17, 1996|A. Grey Le Cuyer

Barred by age from entering the gambling halls of my youth in Atlantic City, I made it a personal quest to sneak onto as many casino rooftops as I could. Since moving to L.A., I've discovered that clever hoteliers actually cater to my whim by tricking out their rooftops with sometimes sumptuous pool-'n-garden settings. A sample:

Wyndham Bel Age

1020 San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood.

Nine Stories. From this vantage at night, the flats of Beverly Hills look like a dark, expansive primeval park, the dense canopy of leaves penetrated by scant firefly-sized points of light. Stellar uninterrupted views range from downtown to the Pacific on clear days and nights. Tall palms and night-blooming jasmine fill pots and planters surrounding a pool with a roomy spa tucked in a corner. Family advisory: The day I visited, a quartet of less-than-muscular German tourists romped around the pool in skimpy thong bikinis; their frauleins were topless.

Bummer: You must be a guest or a guest of a guest to access.

Price of a cheeseburger and fries (via room service): $12.15.

*

Le Montrose

900 Hammond Ave., West Hollywood.

Five Stories. A low-lying view east to downtown and a reverse skyline of the Sunset Strip hotels make this a great spot for late-night reflection. Tastefully landscaped with private cabanas and fairy lights in manicured trees. A sunken spa is set discretely apart from the main action; avoid embarrassment--make noise when approaching. A full-sized regulation tennis court is a half-story above.

Bummer: What if your ball goes over the fence?

Cheeseburger (no fries): $8.95.

*

Hyatt on Sunset

8401 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.

12 stories. Small, dying "tropical" vegetation droops from dilapidated planters surrounding an adequate pool peopled with tattooed rockers. Back in the bad old '70s, bored groupies were said to fling empty champagne bottles off this roof at the big rock 'n' roll billboards on Sunset. Perhaps this explains the 5-foot-high acrylic fence that rings the perimeter. Views range from the corrugated roof of the House of Blues across the street to invasive close-ups directly into the windows of Hollywood Hills homes behind the hotel.

Bummer: The clientele; access to guests only.

Burger and fries: $6.95 (cheese extra).

*

Miyako Inn

328 E. First Street, Los Angeles.

11 stories. OK, you're probably not technically supposed to be on this roof, unless you're landing your chopper on the helipad, but there are no signs posted expressly forbidding entry, and the view is phenomenal. East L.A. spreads its way to the San Gabriels from up here and with a cheap set of binoculars, you can peek into your choice of quite possibly thousands of downtown office windows. Not for the faint of heart.

Bummers: No burgers. No pool. No railings.

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