Downtown L.A. | August 02, 2023
Peek Inside Dahlia, DTLA’s Jewel-Box Cocktail Lounge Designed By Kelly Wearstler
Ignited by a new wave of hospitality, art, and design destinations, a cultural renaissance has been taking place in Downtown Los Angeles—with the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel proving itself a driving force. While the design-forward bolthole is a mere two years in operation, its bones are steeped in history. And this summer, the hotel introduces Dahlia, a cocktail lounge concept that’s adding a fresh spark to the revitalizing and redefining the district’s narrative, deftly stitching threads from the city’s historic past into its pulsating present.
The arrival of Dahlia—so named for a flower indigenous to Mexico—marks the completion of the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel’s culinary trinity: Alongside the Portuguese-inspired Caldo Verde and the trendy rooftop lounge, Cara Cara, Dahlia comes as the intimate hideaway in which to savor and sip an elevated cocktail experience that balances the pillars of mixology with a solid selection of mostly small-batch spirits.
Behind Dahlia’s visual transformation is world-renowned designer Kelly Wearstler—it’s the final stage in her top-down revamp of the Proper—which pays homage to its historical architecture while remaining fresh and relevant. “[For Dahlia,] we’ve pulled upon Spanish, Mexican, Moorish and early Californian references, but kept them contemporary so the interiors are transportive without being reductive,” she explains. “Each space in the property takes a different approach but is responding to the same principals. We also put a special emphasis on the art curation, which spans decades and draws inspiration from the building’s architecture.”
In Wearstler’s diverse portfolio, Dahlia stands as a unique proposition: a divergence from her usual ventures, one distinguished by the intimacy of the space to facilitate an immersive cocktail journey. “Dahlia is the smallest venue we’ve created for any Proper hotel, so it needed to be all the more special,” she expounds. The experience is structured around a moving cocktail cart—a spotlight feature—that crafts personalized drinks table-side. This accentuated focus on crafting a cocktail theater of sorts required an ambiance that would entice the guests to linger longer, to be cocooned in their seats. “We needed a setting where guests wouldn’t want to get out of their seats,’’ Wearstler reflects, “I think we’ve achieved that.”