It’s obligatory to cry on your 30th birthday, right?
I didn’t actually suffer the thirties looming doom that some of my friends seemed to be plagued with, but upon opening a birthday card from the boy I couldn’t help but whimper like the 30-year-old was expected to on her birthday.
‘ “It was so good, I almost peed my pants” At least that’s what you’ll be saying on November 12th at 20.30, when we are having dinner and cocktails at the Reg Bev Wil. Happy birthday, Monkee.’
He’d booked a table at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel, in dreamy Los Angeles, just off Rodeo Drive and setting of one of the greatest, most significant films of all time… Pretty Woman (hence the pant peeing quote, which, if it confused you I’m not sure we can still be friends).
We had booked a birthday blow out to LA for our 30th birthdays. But after ruling out the Regent Beverly Wilshire’s accommodation – the £500 a night price tag proving just a little too steep for two self-employed fledgeling creatives – I thought the nearest I was going to get was a fly-by down Rodeo Drive and a glimpse at those legendary front doors.
The 12th arrived after 10 hectic days in LA, a journey through Death Valley and a pit stop in Vegas. Everything here felt like the stuff of legends, but as I looked at the dress that had been hanging in our Airbnb waiting for this night, I knew this was one of those beautiful once in a lifetime moments. Yes, it was just a hotel in LA, but I’d spent years watching this film, and as a 10-year-old watching Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in this plush setting, I never once considered that one day I might draw breath in that space too.
Of course, we started the evening in true Laura and the boy style… We ordered an Uber economy. It felt like we were crashing some guy’s commute home. I had about 5cms leg room behind his redonkulously pushed-back driver’s seat and crammed between a crocheted granny blanket and a pile of car manuals (which did not bode well). Luckily he didn’t know where the hotel was, so instead of suffering the shame that might’ve ensued had slid out of the battered vehicle, my McQ dress bent out of shape and a ‘Joe’s Garage’ leaflet stuck to my arse in front of the concierge and valet, we were dropped behind the hotel, next to the bins and what looked like a kitchen entrance. I promised myself an upgraded Uber for the journey home.
After finding the front of the hotel and redoing our big entrance, we were greeted at The BLVD restaurant by the assistant manager. I want to call him Barney because, well, this guy…
Nevertheless, he is called Parker, and he buys us a round of Pretty Woman cocktails and tells us to find him after dinner.
Dinner is divine. Fresh, indulgent but not in the American oversized way I had been used to all week. There is wine, there is awesome conversation with our waiter whose name I shamefully didn’t ask, particularly shameful when he told us not only to pocket some of the BW branded coasters we’d been eyeing up but actually got us some fresh ones from the serving station, probably best I don’t mention his name, I’m not sure Barney Thompson would approve…
We finish dinner with a birthday dessert, and after finding Parker we’re shown some of the sights of the hotel featured in the film. The lift doors, the lobby entrance… and he tells us a few film facts and then leaves us to our own devices. Devices which involve sneaking into one of the lifts, and hurtling to the top floor where I could get a lift selfie and pretend I was going to the penthouse.
We broke said lift. Not in the Julia Roberts “I’m not wearing any pantyhose” way, but in the vain, posing for a photo and keeping the doors open when they wanted to close in order to ferry actual paying guests to their rooms way. It made a very loud shrieking sound. We swiftly jumped in the other lift and hot-footed it out the lobby. Not before getting a selfie in the entrance sign, but only very quickly as I could still hear the lift alarm and people were starting to shuffle…
I almost did actually pee my pants.