Hotel Review: The recently renovated Farmer’s Daughter and TART Restaurant are hidden gems in Los Angeles

“Oh, rustic,” I murmured as I entered my room at The Farmer’s Daughter on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. The room is indeed rustic. A twin share, the room has more in common with an old world cabin than it does an upmarket hotel room. Nevertheless, the luxuries are there even if they aren’t apparent on first inspection.

The First Room: The Two King Singles

My bed, one of the two king singles, was as comfortable as my poor jet-lagged body was hoping for after a long day of covering the E3 Expo in Downtown. The room’s decor lends to the trendy, “farm-like” vibe the hotel is going for with ornaments, artwork and fixtures that recall the feel of a room that has been cobbled together instead of carefully, tastefully arranged.

The bathroom sits in the corner of the room behind a pair of glass walls, offering a shower bath combination and there is a small kitchenette just outside with a basin and cupboards for storage. What surprised me was that, while there was a TV in the room, there was no bar fridge that I could find. Instead, everything I would have expected to find in a bar fridge was carefully arranged on a series of shelves to resemble a pantry above a small breakfast nook and the end of my bed.

As ways to dissuade people from raiding the mini bar go, keeping cans of Coke warm on a shelf is a pretty good way to do it. That sounds like a dig and it’s not — I actually really appreciated the psychology of this particular design decision. And of course ice wasn’t far away if you did need to cool anything down.

The Second Room: The One King

Interestingly, changing into a room with just one bed offers a completely different layout, and something of a unique experience. In fact every room in this hotel has its own standalone charm; one-off art pieces litter the room, while various amenities are available for your use. In some you might find a rocking chair. You’ll find pull out sofas in the living rooms of a suite – which also comes complete with a kitchenette. In others, a copper-framed mirror will be found above the bed. Other features are more consistent, like the gingham curtains and the denim duvets. You’ll find a flat-screen TV in every room, and the farm-inspired design runs throughout.

Though comfort is certainly their main priority, as with any hotel, Farmer’s Daughter are looking to give you an experience as well. It is, at its heart, a bespoke, boutique, country-chic hotel, built into the walls of the 1960’s motel it started out as – filled with charm that has grown over the years.

A little bit of history & an recent renovation

The hotel we experience today is one recently redesigned – first in 1999 when Ellen and Peter Picataggio took over the location from Ellen’s parents, remodeling and delivering an aesthetic that maintained the rustic approach of old, with a balance of modern charm and whimsy, and a dash of home decor. Similar to the Ace Hotel, who also founded in 1999, they achieved this through art and a strong attention to detail. But what set them apart was the creation of something of a story around the hotel – one about a “young country girl”.

They updated this further last year, collaborating with designer Meg Joannides of MLK Studio on a new design which debuted this past February. The updates help modernise (and “de-shabify”) the hotel, while adding to the large selection of art that adorns the building and its rooms. You’ll find local, handmade artwork throughout the building from a variety of artists. For instance, in each King guest room, such as the one I stayed in, you’ll find a one-of-a-kind “installation box”, which provides and artist’s interpretation of the lifestyle of the “farmer’s daughter”. Here’s what I discovered in my room, titled “Eggplant” by Matthew Carden:

Also look out for the Art-o-mat, a former cigarette machine that has been converted to dispense custom-made art pieces. Who would have thunk it? It’s one of just 139 such machines in the USA.

Outside the rooms & other amenities

Wi-Fi comes free for guests of the hotel, and it runs fast too! With only 66 rooms, you’d hope so. There’s an app you can download when you connect to the wi-fi, too, which will reward you with a free drink at their on site restaurant TART – who also do room service for the rooms.

You can tell a lot about a hotel from its lobby, and Farmer’s Daughter makes every effort to ensure you know everything about the hotel from the minute you walk through the doors – both in terms of the decor, and the vibe of the attentive staff. There is plenty to love about their offerings here, too. Head down to the lobby between 5pm and 6pm and you’ll find a whiskey tasting, and they always have water and some light snacks out for your enjoyment. There’s also a lending library out the front of the hotel, before you even walk in.

In the courtyard between the hotel and the restaurant, you’ll find an outdoor pool with a sundeck and plenty of that LA sun. Elsewhere, there’s a video library, and guests who need some exercise will be able to enjoy discounted access to a nearby gym. Furthering on the theme of the hotel, you’ll also find a boutique within the boutique hotel’s lobby, in SHOP; which features “a variety of curated merchandise such as leather handbags, belts, dresses, lounge wear and scarves, created by local designers.”

The Dinner: Dining at TART

Their on site casual restaurant and bar – TART – offers a fantastic, relaxed vibe from the minute you walk in. Great music is playing through the speakers (The Roots, Spoon and more could be heard while I dined), and I’m told live music is featured here occasionally too. The majority of their menu is meant to be shared, tough the same dishes can serve as suitable starters the the hungry diner. See, for instance, their White Cheddar Mac & Cheese ($8) – which is as perfect a Mac & Cheese as you’ll find anywhere, baked with breadcrumbs.

Another excellent dish to share, or enjoy on the side, are the crispy fried brussel sprouts, with chili vinaigrette, lime creme and a sunny side egg ($9). Their mains are expansive, though I couldn’t look past the squid ink spaghetti ($19). As the dish proves, while the dining is casual, their presentations are beautiful; this is high quality cuisine.

The spaghetti is presented alongside wild prawns, romesco sauce, arugula pesto and serrano peppers – which you can mix in to meet your own taste desires. And when you’re all done, don’t go past the “Pie of the Moment” – which changes daily. It was a peaches and cream pie on my visit – but admittedly I’d filled myself up so heavily with the savoury dishes, I didn’t leave room. But try not to make the same mistake.

As a bar, it’s no surprise they have a phenomenal cocktail list. Looking through the $15 “Sassy Sippin” menu, you’ll find a couple of my highlights: The Minx and The Escort. The Minx is made with koval white rye whiskey, chambord, agave, fresh lemon juice, muddled blackberries – and an extra fresh blackberry on a skewer. It wasn’t too sweet, and was the easy highlight of the cocktail menu for my tastebuds.

The Escort was another a stunning concoction, with Espolon anejo tequila, egg whites, fresh lemon juice, agave and a dash of amaretto – there’s a nice smokey flavour to this one.

Their menu changes regularly, and I hear they’ve changed chefs since I last visited, so make sure to visit their website to see what’s on offer ahead of your next visit.

Exploring the Surrounds

The Farmer’s Daughter isn’t in your typical hotel location in Los Angeles – it’s not on Sunset or on the beaches of Santa Monica. It’s not in the newly refurbished Downtown district, and it’s just outside of the streets of Hollywood. In fact, it’s kind of smack dab in the middle of all of this. It’s easy to get to the city or the beach from their location, and you’re right across from one of the best shopping complexes in all of Los Angeles: The Grove, as well as the Original Farmer’s Markets, a visit of which no trip to LA is complete without.

You’re also just up from the iconic Beverly Centre and right near the CBS Studios, where if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to sit in the audience of one of your favourite TV series. LACMA and the 3rd Street boutiques are also nearby.

The Farmer’s Daughter is located 15 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Rooms start from around $225. For more details, and to book a stay at the hotel, head to their official website.

The hotel provided two rooms complimentary to writers Larry Heath and David Smith, who both contributed to this article.