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August 6, 2008

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  • The Custom Hotel

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Review: The Custom Hotel
This boutique airport hotel is anything but typical, offering a welcome change of pace for layover passengers.
By Marc Meredith

When there are sheep in the lobby, you know it's not a typical airport hotel and The Custom Hotel is definitely not typical, airport adjacent or otherwise.

Located just north of Los Angeles International Airport, in the community of Westchester, The Custom offers all the things you'd expect in an airport adjacent hotel: close proximity, efficient service, Wi-Fi (free too!) and a few things you would not, like the aforementioned sheep, a pervasive cleverness and complimentary espresso when you check in. The contemporary boutique hotel, which opened last fall, bills itself as a "good layover" and after my stay, I have to agree.

The rooms at The Custom are not large but they've done a nice job of maximizing the useable space, setting the workspace behind the bed and mounting the HD flat screen television flush on the wall (it swings out so don't worry about twisting your neck). Both the bed linens and the bath towels are of good quality and rather than the typical hotel bedspread, this one, interestingly, features portraits of dogs. It's one of the few times I didn't just toss the spread aside in the corner of the room.

In place of the usual "Welcome to [insert city name here]" book on the nightstand, I found copies of Bark and 944 magazines and the mini-bar area went well beyond the usual fare. I could have purchased a paddleball or a roll of pink duct tape. But I didn't.

There are a total of 250 rooms here. I suggest asking for one facing the south side where you'll be treated to great views of the airport and if you are up high enough, the ocean.

In most airport hotels, the generic feel often extends to the restaurant. In the case of The Custom, it's fortunate that the eclectic feel extends to Bistrotek. The menu has enough choices to make it interesting but not so many as to make ordering dinner a chore. The space is comfortable and casual and the food is good, old-fashioned Americana with a sense of humor. Try the fried chicken!

If it's drinks you're after, Hopscotch, the bar located above the pool, has a good selection of beer (it's one of the few places where I've found Hoegaarden in LA) and a friendly wait staff. The place has a good energy to it, with DJs every night and a couple of retro arcade games. During my visit, the crowd was large but the outside setting provided a sense of breathing room, busy but not sardine-like.

It's a good thing that The Custom provides a comfortable space to both stay and dine because once you step off the property, the options are limited. Granted, you can find Italian, Thai, Mexican and Japanese food all within walking distance but while they provide decent fare, none are especially memorable.

Diversions are even more limited. If you like bowling, you're in luck. Otherwise, beyond a walk in the park (there's a nice one across the street), stick to the two workout rooms in the hotel or sun yourself by the pool.

The Custom is a good layover hotel and is a welcome respite from the giant corporate hotels on Century Boulevard. You might not earn those coveted loyalty points offered at many major hotel chains but for some, the trade-off is worth it.

The Custom Hotel, 8639 Lincoln Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90045, Tel: 310-645-0400, Reservations: 877-287-8601.

Marc took his first airplane ride at 13 months and he's been flying ever since. When he is not planning his next trip, he is the Dean of Admissions at Otis College of Art and Design, which just happens to be right next door to LAX...

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Pics From The Trip


The lobby


My room


Paddleball anyone?


A different take on reading material


Bistrotek is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner


Soup starter for dinner


Poolside at night


Racetrack- one of two workout spaces


Marc D. Meredith


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