In California, any average nightclub or bar simply will not cut it. If you are socializing with colleagues or on the job attempting to impress clients, you probably need top-tier luxury. If you are out on the weekend with a date or the love of your life, a dive bar will not do. In each case, the absolute best places are easy to find, but you better plan carefully and move quickly as seats and standing space go fast.
1. Bootsy Bellows
Location: Los Angeles
Developed and owned by actor David Arquette, Bootsy Bellows offers guests the ability to enjoy, as the company says, “residential haven.” The style, for instance, is from the 1940s, feeling like a luxurious throwback to an era of Frank Sinatra governed by lush foliage and soft pastels.
Located in Los Angeles, it is known as “a decadent playground for adults,” offering live entertainment, music, and cocktails mixed with the occasional performance by puppets. Although it might seem a bit odd, it is known for frequent appearances by A-list celebrities. In this luxury nightclub, seating is comfortable, intimate, and generous.
It is an exclusive club where seating is best obtained by advance reservation. Gaining access is not easy. Even its website is cloaked in mystique, featuring simply a black page marked by Bootsy Bellows the cat. Although some promotional material exists on the parent company’s web site, to actually understand the club’s pleasures, you must gain entrance.
2. The Highlight Room
The Highlight Room is an 11,000 square-foot club dedicated to personal pampering amid two extremes: water and sun worship. Set in the heart of Hollywood, the club’s outdoor seating consists of cabana-style recliners around a crystal-clear, turquoise-shaded pool.
Experiencing daylife, as the company calls it, is only possible via an advance reservation. Once you get your reservation, you can lounge over drinks and have food delivered to your plush recliners where you are free to spread the umbrella for shade or leave it closed as you soak up as much of the sun for which California is known.
Nightlife, however, takes a more festive turn, and party-goers have one of the best views set to live music and local performances.
At the Highlight Room, the menu is as festive as the mood. Whether you like fresh seafood or a variety of vegan morsels–it is all succulent. The club is open daily from early-morning breakfast and brunch to late dinner that ends at 10 pm.
For breakfast or brunch, you can enjoy avocado toast or an acaibowl, loaded with antioxidants. Lunch is equally divine over margarita flatbread, hummus, and lobster toast.
Of course, for a sturdier meal, you can order what is known simply as “The Burger.” It consists of a whopping slab of ground beef slathered in cheese with a side of herb fries.
3. Oxford Social Club
Location: San Diego
The Oxford Social Club is a party-goer’s mecca. It consists largely of beautiful people dancing in the dark. In this place, everyone is clad primarily in flashing light. From dancing to socializing, you can enjoy world-class food, drinks, and performances.
Access is via a ticket purchased well in advance. Disc jockeys and performers are often new, cutting-edge talent, such as Kyle Flesch or Gold Mozae. That said, Captn20 often makes the rounds, but you will miss it all if you think a week or two in advance is time enough to plan your night. For an intimate party, attendees can book space for private events.
The drink menu includes a variety of bubbled nuance. Swedish Airmail, for instance, consists of a hint of lemon and honey over Absolut Elyx, Chandon sparkling wine, and Scrappy’s lavender bitters. Guests are encouraged to avail themselves of the bottle service.
By the way, reservations can be requested. Reservations cannot simply be purchased as entrance is a privilege–not a right.
4. The Rooftop by STK
Location: San Diego
This nightclub is upscale casual with a strictly enforced dress code. During the week, it serves as a restaurant with views measured in hundreds of miles. From your seat, you can see the famed Coronado bridge along with the entire San Diego cityscape.
The menu is world-class, and seating is available with a reservation. Whether you like intimate seating or are part of a group, seats and tables enjoy dim, theater lighting and fare like thick cuts of steak, often topped with more meat, such as shrimp or lobster. In this place, the greenery is purely for show.
Also available is a vast pool and poolside lounging in cushioned recliners poised for suntanning and rejuvenation.
On the weekends, however, the solitude and serenity give way as the entire place transforms into a nightclub with music and award-winning performances by regional and national talent. Against the surrounding cityscape and the flashing lights set to thumping bass, the feel is more evolved from west-coast luxury to something strikingly atmospheric.
5. The Shady Lady Saloon
Ranked consistently as one of the top-25 bars in America, The Shady Lady Saloon resurrects the roaring twenties–minus the late 1920’s depression. It is known for its artisan cocktails–found nowhere else on the planet–and an award-winning, gourmet menu that focuses on fresh creativity designed for the palate.
Specialties include such dishes as carnitas tacos and duck confittots. Cocktails are seasonal, ranging from the orange- and chocolate-laced Copper Dog to the Aquavit-based Screaming Viking.
Music is live, ranging from big band and jazz to country and rock. Although this bar is acclaimed, access does not require a reservation. That said, wait times are worth any lengthy lines you might experience.