OCEAN AVE — There’s less than an hour left before Brent Bolthouse’s new lounge The Bungalow at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel opens for 400 or so of his closest friends and he’s running around like someone throwing their first house party.
Dressed in a tuxedo jacket, bow tie and worn Chuck Taylors, Bolthouse can be seen rushing from one room to the next, adjusting the dozens of eclectic knick-knacks that make the 1947 cottage that houses The Bungalow feel more like the home of a retired surfer than a hot spot.
He can’t even sit down for an interview without fiddling with a wooden bench out back or fretting over a beaming light that seems to shine whenever someone passes by on their way to a nook tailor-made for making out.
“We definitely have to do something about that,” Bolthouse, 42, said last Thursday before opening the doors to The Bungalow for an invite-only bash featuring 1960s superstar Donovan and KCRW music director Jason Bentley, who will curate Thursday night acoustic performances on the built-out patio that features fire pits and a full bar.
For a man known as the king of L.A. nightlife with such clubs as Hyde Lounge and Area on his resume, along with a popular radio show on Indie 103.1FM, the promoter/DJ/entreprenuer is no stranger to opening night jitters. But this feels different — and for good reason.
“More than any other venue we’ve done, this really reflects my personality,” Bolthouse said of the lounge, which offers panoramic views of Palisades Park and the Santa Monica Bay. “This represents who I am. … I hope the community embraces it.”
Bolthouse, a native of Joshua Tree, Calif., who bolted to Los Angeles before he could vote and soon began promoting clubs and working turntables, has always dreamed of opening a venue on the Westside.
When the opportunity arose, he wanted to create something unique. Instead of velvet ropes, bouncers and bottle service, he’s built a relaxed atmosphere with a pingpong table and hammock, French doors, farm-fresh cocktails and Latin-inspired bites courtesy of FIG’s Chef Ray Garcia. It’s the type of place that locals can bring their beach cruisers and longboards to on a Sunday afternoon to chill out and soak in some sun while playing checkers or pool in the game room.
It also features a private dining area complete with a hand-crafted, solid oak dining table and iron chandeliers that is ripe for romantic dinners or company retreats when the boardroom just won’t do.
With every venue he creates, Bolthouse has a muse. For The Bungalow, the inspiration was a mature woman who after a life of world travels and adventures ends up settling in a cottage by the beach, embracing the Baja lifestyle.
That feel permeates throughout The Bungalow, from the hula dancer tchotchke to the decorative-tile floors and handmade Mexican chairs, or equipales. There’s even a vintage Tony Alva skateboard resting atop a fire place that is now filled with devotional candles featuring the Virgin Mary. Once inside, it’s easy to forget the 9-to-5 stress.
Bolthouse, who has partnered with Fairmont owner MSD Capital, designed the space with the help of [Studio Collective] and believes he has something that will appeal to locals looking to relax. His hope is that Santa Monicans will fall in love with The Bungalow and fight to keep it as MSD looks to remodel the hotel. (So far the hotel’s bungalows aren’t included in the new plans.) That will be the ultimate test of its success.
For Bolthouse, the desire is to create a space that allows those on the Westside to get a taste of Hollywood without all the hassle. The space is hip without being pretentious.
“I want people to come and get together with their friends, enjoy the beautiful weather, the scenery and possibly meet their future wives or husbands here,” Bolthouse said.
Now that’s something you definitely won’t find on the Sunset Strip.
The Bungalow is located at 101 Wilshire Blvd. For more information, call (310) 899-8350 or visit www.thebungalowsm.com.