An L.A. Hotel Reconnects With its Feminist Roots Via a Vibrant, Art-Filled Renovation

Add to
Like
Share
By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Studio Collective brought Hotel Figueroa into the present with a contemporary renovation that embraces the past.

Following an extensive renovation, downtown Los Angeles' Hotel Figueroa—a new member of The Leading Hotels of the World—is having its very own renaissance. Award-winning Santa Monica design agency Studio Collective updated and re-imagined the historic hotel, capturing its fierce spirit and restoring the property to its original splendor. Paying respect to the original Spanish Colonial design, Studio Collective maintained the building's footprint as they infused the hotel with modern touches. The team redesigned the property's 286 guest rooms and public spaces, enhanced the original lobby skylights, and rehabbed the iconic coffin-shaped pool. 

Hotel Figueroa is located in the evolving South Park district of downtown Los Angeles. 

Hotel Figueroa is located in the evolving South Park district of downtown Los Angeles. 

Newsletter
Join the Travel Newsletter

Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design

The renovation also provided a prime opportunity for the hotel to reconnect with its feminist past. First opened in 1926 as an exclusive women’s hostel run by the YMCA, Hotel Figueroa was, at the time, the largest project to be financed, owned, and operated by women. 

Advertised as "an ideal stopping place for ladies unattended," Hotel Figueroa served as a safe haven for both female travelers and the emerging class of businesswomen, and it soon evolved into a forward-thinking gathering place that hosted musical evenings and art exhibits for female artists. The hotel's first managing director, Maude Bouldin, was a strong feminist figure who flew planes, rode motorcycles, and organized political events. Clearly ahead of her time, Maude is now immortalized in a bold crimson portrait by local Los Angeles artist Alison Van Pelt. 

The lobby features a bold crimson portrait of Hotel Figueroa's original managing director, Maude Bouldin. It was produced by local Los Angeles artist Alison Van Pelt. 

The lobby features a bold crimson portrait of Hotel Figueroa's original managing director, Maude Bouldin. It was produced by local Los Angeles artist Alison Van Pelt. 

The portrait is part of a vibrant arts program—curated by Tiffiny Lendrum—which features a noteworthy collection of local female artists throughout the hotel. In fact, Studio Collective made an effort to integrate art into everything—a salute to downtown Los Angeles' booming art scene. Hand-painted elevator doors add a distinctive touch, and the entire back of the hotel features a very Instagram-able mural designed by UK–based artist Bella Gomez. 

The hotel is even hosting an artist-in-residence program that will showcase new work in a lobby gallery. "We love the history of the hotel. Lots of hotel development is ground up, [but] this project had a rich history embedded in it, so there was no need to create a narrative," explains Adam Goldstein of Studi0 Collective. "We tried to keep the original bones and the original iconography that exists throughout the hotel—like the feminist upside-down triangles."

These triangles are featured in the original YWCA logo, and they symbolize feminine strength and power—which, just like the Hotel Figueroa itself, is definitely back. 

The skylights in the hotel's lobby were old, dirty, and "a little bit decrepit," according to Goldstein. The updated space is filled with light and buzzing with creativity.

The skylights in the hotel's lobby were old, dirty, and "a little bit decrepit," according to Goldstein. The updated space is filled with light and buzzing with creativity.

A highly curated collection of artwork adorns the vibrant lobby, which is richly textured with dark woods, lush jewel-toned velvets, brass, and leather. A work by Jesse Mockrin hangs above the hearth. 

A highly curated collection of artwork adorns the vibrant lobby, which is richly textured with dark woods, lush jewel-toned velvets, brass, and leather. A work by Jesse Mockrin hangs above the hearth. 

Studio Collective outfitted the double-height, soaring lobby space in the spirit of great European hotel bars. 

Studio Collective outfitted the double-height, soaring lobby space in the spirit of great European hotel bars. 

A light-filled lobby vignette references the hotel's Spanish Colonial roots with added modern touches. 

A light-filled lobby vignette references the hotel's Spanish Colonial roots with added modern touches. 

Just off the spacious lobby lies the restaurant Breva, which features white-oak floors and green leather banquettes. An ode to Basque Country, the restaurant is helmed by four-time James Beard Award-nominated chef Casey Lane. French doors extend seating onto the sidewalk, activating the front of the historic hotel for the first time since its inception. 

Just off the spacious lobby lies the restaurant Breva, which features white-oak floors and green leather banquettes. An ode to Basque Country, the restaurant is helmed by four-time James Beard Award-nominated chef Casey Lane. French doors extend seating onto the sidewalk, activating the front of the historic hotel for the first time since its inception. 

Located in the lobby mezzanine, Bar Alta exhibits a modern take on Art Deco design. The furniture for the space is all custom made from brass and steel with walnut, mohair, velvet, and leather upholstery. 

Located in the lobby mezzanine, Bar Alta exhibits a modern take on Art Deco design. The furniture for the space is all custom made from brass and steel with walnut, mohair, velvet, and leather upholstery. 

Upside-down triangles appear throughout the hotel. These symbols of feminine power and strength are featured in the original YWCA logo.

Upside-down triangles appear throughout the hotel. These symbols of feminine power and strength are featured in the original YWCA logo.

The bright Figueroa suite features a furnished balcony. 

The bright Figueroa suite features a furnished balcony. 

Exposed wood beams are set against contemporary artwork and custom furniture. Painted cement tiles adorn one of the hotel's suites.

Exposed wood beams are set against contemporary artwork and custom furniture. Painted cement tiles adorn one of the hotel's suites.

Bright wallpaper custom designed by Studio Collective lines the walls of this guest suite. The fig leaf motif is an homage to the firm's popular pet name for the project: Hotel Fig. It was such a success that the fig design was incorporated into the hotel's branding. 

Bright wallpaper custom designed by Studio Collective lines the walls of this guest suite. The fig leaf motif is an homage to the firm's popular pet name for the project: Hotel Fig. It was such a success that the fig design was incorporated into the hotel's branding. 

Overlooking the pool is Veranda, an al fresco dining venue. The design team restored and expanded the hotel’s original 1920s fireplace with a double-sided feature, adding a historic touchpoint to the new dining space.

Overlooking the pool is Veranda, an al fresco dining venue. The design team restored and expanded the hotel’s original 1920s fireplace with a double-sided feature, adding a historic touchpoint to the new dining space.

The iconic coffin-shaped pool is one of the hotel's original features that Studio Collective updated and maintained. 

The iconic coffin-shaped pool is one of the hotel's original features that Studio Collective updated and maintained. 

Since land in downtown LA comes at a premium, most hotel pools are relegated to rooftops. Hotel Figueroa's ground-level pool is an extravagant and beloved original feature that adds to the property's character and lively social scene. 

Since land in downtown LA comes at a premium, most hotel pools are relegated to rooftops. Hotel Figueroa's ground-level pool is an extravagant and beloved original feature that adds to the property's character and lively social scene. 

The entire back of the hotel is covered in a very Instagram-able mural by UK–based artist Bella Gomez.

The entire back of the hotel is covered in a very Instagram-able mural by UK–based artist Bella Gomez.

Hotel Figueroa is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, hotels which embody the essence of their destination by their architecture, design, and cultural experiences. Room rates range from $339 to $2,999 and are subject to change.

Travel for this story provided by The Leading Hotels of the World.

Book Now