Quick trip back to LA: a mediocre hotel experience, major disappointment with Jet Blue Mint and some yummy food

Last week I had to return to LA for a couple of days, and although on my last trip I stated that I had found my new favorite hotel in LA (The Beverly Hills Hotel) I decided to try and be “economical” as I was traveling by myself for business rather than pleasure. Not surprisingly I was disappointed; but first the flight, which also was a let down.

Several years ago I flew Jet Blue’s Mint class and really loved it. The private suites! The attentive service! The edible food! This was pre-covid, and since that time I had not had the occasion to fly it again as the routes I usually take on Jet Blue do not offer Mint. When I booked this quick trip I found the price for my Mint tickets to be less than my usual go-to, Delta, and the lure of the private suite ultimately made the decision for me.

Clearly something has changed, whether my perception or the actual product; but suffice it to say I will not be opting for Mint again. For my outbound flight a single suite wasn’t available, so I opted for a shared suite though luckily for me the seat next to me was unoccupied. Starting with the comfort of the seat and the amenities- eh. The menu was enticing to look at but none of the options spoke to me so I skipped meal service. The crew was moderately friendly but nothing like I remembered. If I was to compare it to something I would say it is similar to TAP, definitely not be in the big leagues.

On to the second disappointment. I had several meetings scheduled during my trip and determined that the 1 Hotel in West Hollywood would be a convenient location for me, and at a more reasonable price point than I usually indulge in. The 1 Hotel chain touts itself as offering sustainable luxury. Of course I appreciate sustainability and eco-consciousness, but my experience did hit some bumps. Upon arrival I learned that there was a hotel workers strike going on, and workers from my hotel as well as many others decided to walk out that morning. Aside from extra security and barricades outside as well as a lone striker blowing a Vuvuzela incessantly at the entrance it wasn’t immediately clear that anything was amiss.

Having booked through Virtuoso I was pleased to learn that my room was ready upon my arrival; though I was not given an upgrade the woman who checked me in guaranteed I would love it. Long story short It took me two room changes until I was satisfied. The first room unfortunately had an issue with the A/C and there was a constant whir and clang that could not be explained away by reception telling me it was the “white noise” that is standard in the rooms. Room choice 2 was right next to the elevator and I didn’t even bother opening the door, and finally, after an hour delay I was given the keys to choice 3 which was two floors above my original room and blessedly silent.

The decor and finishes were fine, though there was nowhere to unpack aside from an armoire (no drawers) and upon close inspection everything was a little shoddy. While I was trying to be economical, in L.A. that is a relative term, the room was not inexpensive.

After the check-in debacle I was ready for lunch and set out for a DELICIOUS salad at Sycamore Kitchen with a friend. The Mediterranean Gem salad sans chicken and extra avocado was perfect.

Following lunch it was back to the hotel to unpack my things in my “new” quiet room, take a quick rest and to get ready for my evening activity.

On my last trip to L.A. I had hoped to snag a reservation at La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills, but I struck out. On this trip my son hit the reservation jackpot and we landed a coveted 7 pm reservation for four. Talk about Old School, La Dolce Vita has been around forever and you can just imagine the Rat Pack sharing Martinis and spaghetti and meatballs in one of the curved leather banquettes. Atmospheric (dark) and chic (leopard print everywhere you look) LDV is right up my alley. The staff was so welcoming and friendly that we were relaxed and ready for fun. Unfortunately the dim lighting was a real hindrance as far as photos go but suffice it to say the highlights included a perfectly executed Negroni, a superb Caesar salad mixed table side and from what I hear a pretty good rendition of spaghetti and meatballs.

The food is actually not the main attraction though it is very tasty, the whole vibe is pretty fabulous and if I lived in the area I would surely be a regular.

Back to the 1 Hotel for breakfast…I’m not sure whether the striking workers had returned, but the breakfast was a little weak and although it was included as a Virtuoso benefit and I didn’t have to look at prices, I was quite shocked at the $10 charged for two slices of Udi’s gluten free bread.

$10 toast ?!

I had a very full day of meetings followed by a dinner at Hinoki & the Bird in Century City. We were a very chatty and engaged group so I barely had time to take photos of the outstanding Kale Salad or the Crispy Brussels Sprouts (both so yummy) but I was able to capture the most lovely Japanese Yam with umeboshi crème fraîche and pickled jalapeño. It was almost too pretty to eat, but I’m glad I did.

Almost too pretty to eat

Following one final breakfast at the hotel I enjoyed lunch at Republique, an old standby. The arugula and mint salad with fruit was just the thing for before my flight, while my dining companions enjoyed an egg sammie, a house made baguette and a slice of cheesecake. Republique always has a line out the door, and for good reason.

And just like that it was time to head home. I took advantage of the PS LAX (Private Suite) once again and it was well worth it. While I didn’t enjoy a meal this time I did have a refreshing iced cappuccino and even got to catch up with a friend who also was flying out at the same time. If you can avail yourself of it, The PS experience really makes traveling easier and much more pleasant. On the way to my flight I passed the specially painted Jet Blue plane honoring the NY Fire Department which was pretty cool.

Once I boarded I found that while I was seated in a single suite for the trip back East, unfortunately my tv screen was not working. As soon as we were airborne I asked the flight attendants whether it was a plane-wide issue and he responded in a very harried and frustrated way that no, it was only mine, and they were unable to reset the system just for me. Hmmm, ok, well could I be compensated for the lack of service I received? No, they couldn’t was the answer because Jet Blue had taken away all their autonomy to offer vouchers and I would have to contact customer service. FYI, this message was not delivered in a conciliatory tone.

Since I had wifi and 5 1/2 hours to kill I went onto a live chat with Jet Blue. Could they assist in finding me some sort of refund: cash, miles, or a credit to make up for the lack of service on the flight? No, they couldn’t, I had to take it up with the crew. This went round and round for about an hour and to be honest it was becoming more about the principle than the actual money. Finally the advice was to see the gate agent when I disembarked at 12:45 am, they could surely help. Guess what? Their answer was no, check with the Jet Blue Help center on the way to Baggage Claim. No surprise, it was deserted since it was close to 1 am.

I had had it, and decided to give the folks at Jet Blue a call the next morning. After retelling my story, and them accessing my chat as well as the notes from the crew they said sorry– you are actually not guaranteed entertainment on your cross country flight in Mint and there was nothing they can do for me.

My response? in short, “Jet Blue is actually a low budget airline and your customer service stinks, the on board experience is sub-par and I will never pay for Mint again”. Phew! Relieved I got that rant out of my system, and glad I was able to share it with you.

All in all, a fun quick trip and some lessons learned: steer clear of Jet Blue Mint, I am usually disappointed when I try to economize, and L.A. is a great restaurant town!

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