Hotel Per La – Class & Hospitality

Downtown hotels

For over a century, the historic Giannini building on the corners of 7th and Olive Streets, with its reaching pillars and carved stone exteriors and interiors of brass, gold, and marble, stood destitute and undeserving of attention from the outside world. Riddled with graffiti with windows and entryways half-boarded up, the monument stood only as a testament to a time long ago, when commerce ruled the land and DTLA banks were king.

Standing beneath the highest of ornate ceilings, illuminated by enormous draped windows of natural light, and waiting to make deposits, bank patrons were exposed to the finest luxuries of the time. Tiffany lamps, mahogany furnishings, imported tapestries, area rugs from the Mediterranean, solid brass handrails, and veined marble flooring favored the calm voices and pitter-patter of wooden heels echoing off into the distance.

Far below its layer of marble tiles and velvet cord-offs, only a chosen few had access to the bank’s safe. A walk-in masterpiece of solid steel meant to secure millions in bonds, gold, paper notes, and finely cut, precious gems.

Yet over time, the vault would empty, the rooms would empty, and the bank would shutter.

It wasn’t until 2019, after a vigorous and lengthy adapt-reuse project makeover, that the doors of the Gianinni building would open once again as the Nomad Hotel. 

After closing in 2020, a collaborative effort between HN Capital Partners, an active investor, owner, and operator of upscale, lifestyle, and luxury hotels, and award-winning Sage Hospitality, the once-Bank of Italy, reopened the property with newly designed public spaces as Hotel Per La, as it’s known to the world in these modern times.

At Hotel Per La, visitors won’t find a conveyor line of guests cramming into every orifice or inpatient staff wondering how they can inconvenience and hinder the happiness of each and every patron. Instead, Hotel Per La has mastered the concept of hospitality with competent valets and welcoming guest services who gift room keys to doors that expose jaw-dropping superior interior design, classic room accommodations, mesmerizing views, and access to delicately prepared cuisine all in one prime location.

From the rooftop to the basement, no detail is left unpresentable.

Open to guests of the hotel and to the public, inside the hotel’s mammoth 3500-square-foot ground-floor dining room lies a cafe, full bar, and fine dining restaurant offering spirited Italian flavors elevated with a vibrant Los Angeles flair, paying tribute to the historic building’s rich history and local community.

Below a golden coffered Italianate 20-foot ceiling where bank lines and soft echoes once formed, tables filled with breakfast or dinner, accompanied by their appropriate beverages: a cup of coffee and pasty from Café Ora, a mezcal Negroni sipped over chef-prepared bar bites during Aperitivo Hour, from 5 pm to 6 pm, or fine wines over full courses of Veal Lion and Maine Lobster Rigatoni at Ristorante Per L’Ora.

Spending casual days or elegant evenings inside Hotel Per La is made further possible thanks to interior designer Jaqui Seerman’s use of contemporary furnishings, airy linens, amorphic lighting, and pops of bright colors. Surrounded by thoughtfully placed foliage in decorated pots, the design helps establish a playfully refined atmosphere.

Photo and video ops abound; visitors may choose from a runway beneath mirrored arches, a dining room and mezzanine extravagance, or even the old basement where the vintage bank vault still remains. The basement too is refurbished, and the vault is polished and ready to impress with its solid brass circular grips, making for the perfect photo backdrop.

They say crème rises to the top. At Hotel Per La, it’s a quick elevator ride past 12-stories of suites to the rooftop bar and poolside luxury of Bar Clara. Bar Clara offers great options for lunch from their all-day menu, including one of DTLA’s favorite pescatarian plates, their Grilled Albacore Tuna Sandwich served on a brioche bun.

Choosing between daytime and night or accepting both as a place to explore this rooftop of gifts involves a heated pool, surrounded by rows of private gazebos and lounge chairs, and daytime or nighttime electric views of DTLA.

Wait, is that a gargoyle at the end of the pool with its mouth wide open and teeth showing like some impatient watchman working the door at some of these new-age DTLA hotels?

Ah no, it’s a complete replica of The Orcus Mouth, the main sculpture seen in Il Parco dei Mostri in Lazio, Italy—the god who torments evildoers in the afterlife.

Good thing there are no evil doers at Hotel Per La.

As new-age hotels continue to erect themselves in downtown Los Angeles, bringing their ghastly brand of new-age hospitality relying on gimmicks with multiple rooms filled with cheap entertainment, where guests are barely treated, let alone treated like they are actually welcomed, it’s good to know there are a few downtown hotels that exist because of their uniquely elegant style, class, and traditional ways of patiently catering to each guest. Hotel Per La is just such a hotel.

Author: Keri Freeman

Military mom and proud parent, artist, writer, musician and film maker. Cocktail connoisseur. Publisher of DTLA Weekly.