The Bona Vista Lounge has become this kitschy wonderland that many cool people have been talking up as “their favorite place in town.” If you are unfamiliar with the place, it is a rotating top-floor bar Downtown hiding in a 1980s wonderland of a Westin. They also serve drinks in novelty glasses that they will wash and give to you on the way out. It’s made a few appearances on the LAIY Drink Map and we’ve visited once or twice before but knew we had to get in there with a camera and show you guys what is going on with the place.
The place is located off of Figueroa and, more specifically, is on the 34th floor of the hotel. You ride a glass elevator from within the spacey looking hotel that takes you up and out of the building to this rotating space. It’s a semi-frightening ride that feels more like an amusement ride more than transportation and, for some, it may be better to face the elevator door than outward to the LA horizons. The space is down a little staircase and is totally covered in cheesy carpeting and filled with large red fake leather booths. It feels completely trapped in an idea of cool from 1989 and very much resembles a hotel bar. It is also never busy. For your first five minutes here, you may feel a little motion sickness as you adjust to the slow swivel of the building. All this said, there is something about this place that is so insanely captivating.
The food and drinks are an extreme variety of okay and, ridiculously, are quite expensive. The special drink for the evening last night was a bunch of tiki drinks courtesy of Sailor Jerry’s: they were $16 and, although they include the glass, are a punch in the wallet. They are good but, like the Chex Mix they serve in glassware, there is something a little stale about them. This along with the inattentive and comical service makes for an absurdist drink. You will most definitely see tourists who stepped out of 1995 with fanny packs and an insatiable urge to dine at a rotating restaurant. You may also get slapped by a plant or pillar as the dining area moves independently of the area that lines the windows.
The Bona Vista Lounge is in its own time zone. It takes an hour to give you a full view of the city so your time there has to come in hour long increments so that you can see all the city views. It can be a little disorienting there as you can see which direction you are facing in the distance but have a tough time (drunkenly) trying to position yourself in relationship to Downtown. Once you make a full circle or discover the 110/101 facing side, things should click into place regardless of your level of sobriety. The Bona Vista has some magic to it despite it being expensive and full of silly service quirks. If anything, this is a fascinating place to add to a Downtown bar crawl or to catch up with a friend in from out of town. Is there anyone who doesn’t like a rotating bar?