Night Crawling with Ian Somerhalder in Los Angeles is hard to resist, we admit…Holiday Goddess Editor and Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide writer Vicki Arkoff spends the night with the star of “The Vampire Diaries” to sink her teeth into his favorite Los Angeles haunts.
Life does not suck for Ian Somerhalder, the lead villain of “The Vampire Diaries” and the upcoming gothic film “Cradlewood.” The mesmerizingly handsome Louisiana-born actor-model may portray the undead — and was violently killed off in “Lost” — but death hasn’t dimmed his spirits one bit.
“Damon is angry and he wants vengeance and redemption,” Ian says of his “Vampire Diaries” character who’s been voted even more popular than the “Twilight” bloodsuckers. “However, he’s the most lonely person I’ve ever known. Imagine being 170 years old. Imagine seeing everyone you’ve ever known die around you. That would make you cynical and lonely beyond belief. People who have vengeance on their mind are tough to be around.” But doesn’t Ian find the idea of immortality just a little tempting? “No way. Life is about the relationships you have. It’s not just about us as individuals. It’s about our friends, our families, our children. To be immortal would be such a lonely existence.”
If that’s not ample evidence that Ian is Damon’s polar opposite, spend the night with him and you’ll know for sure: Ian is sunny, outgoing and kindhearted, and he’s been loving life in Los Angeles ever since moving to the shore.
“My house is right off the beach in Venice,” he beams. “I’m a total beach person. Venice is just the most beautiful neighborhood in the world. I live right on the Venice, Santa Monica border and that’s where I spend every morning and every evening: on the beach and in my favorite local spots where everyone knows each other. I never drive. The only time I drive is to go to Whole Foods or the dry cleaners or come into the city.”
Venice has a dangerous side, however, and Ian’s OK with that. “I love both the dark and the light.” Especially when it means a late night that ends at dawn, as it turns out. Here are Ian’s favorite places for L.A. night stalkers:
Venice Boardwalk: The beach is one L.A. place that never closes. “I am on the boardwalk every day and night of my life. It never ceases to be fun just getting on my beach cruiser and riding up and down the Venice Boardwalk.” Given the 24-hour crowds and the freak show spectacle – surfers, skaters, bikers, sunbathers, vendors, street performers, muscle men, anything-goes locals, and gawking tourists — it sounds like just the place for a famous face to blend into the background. “That’s pretty much true. Though I was just talking to Matthew Fox who was in the most northern tip of Scotland and someone recognized him. After being in something like ‘Lost’ I could literally be hiding in the desert in Egypt and someone would say ‘Hey, are you that guy?’”
Venice & Santa Monica bar hopping: “I spend every evening on the beach and in my favorite local spots where everyone knows each other. L.A. is weird late night, because most places shut down so early. When you’re in New York or New Orleans, late night is really early morning, you know what I mean? L.A. is kinda funny that way — places close earlier so they make you go home at 1:45 a.m.” Which bars tempt Ian most to stay ‘til closing time? He’d like to tell you, but then he’d have to find new joints. “When I do that,” he laughs, “they get slaughtered and then I can’t get in anymore.”
Less stalk-able Venice locals will tell you that the beach city’s bar scene offers lots of casual variety, from chic to downright funky: Beechwood: 822 Washington Blvd., Venice. Order a blood orange martini and the sweet potato fries, and then sit near the fire pit for a comfy evening after the happy hour crowd thins out. The Brig: 1515 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Billiards, moderately priced drinks, packed dance floor, free parking, and yummy food trucks right outside for late-night munchies. The Otherroom: 1201 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Perfect place for the laid-back local. Prepare to wait in line on weekends. Can end up a bit pricey. Primitivo Wine Bistro: 1025 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Civilized wine bar and fine dining. Reservations are recommended. Townhouse Cocktails: 52 Windward Ave., Venice. Just what you expect from a loud, dimly lit dive bar, plus the novelty of a burlesque show on Wednesdays.
Swingers: A traditional American diner with a modern twist and lounge attitude. (8020 Beverly Blvd. Mid-City West, Los Angeles. Burgers, breakfast, ahi tuna sandwich, stuffed grilled cheese sandwich, peanut butter shakes, vegan and vegetarian menu. Open 6:30 a.m.-4 a.m. daily). “I love this place for good comfort food and people who will not judge you. They cater to you so well. How? They’re patient, first and foremost. Especially at four in the morning when you need patience. Swingers has just the right vibe. Plus, as it is at Chateau Marmont, everyone there is having just as much fun as you are.”
Chateau Marmont: Located at the heart of the Sunset Strip, this historic luxury hotel has catered to the private whims of Hollywood stars since the 1930’s. “There are really great late night spots in L.A. and this is definitely one of the city’s most quintessential places.”
The Chateau (8221 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood; Bar Marmont, 8171 W. Sunset Blvd.), is unique in that the common areas – lobby lounge, garden, poolside and adjacent bar – are like stages for mini-dramas, played out 24 hours a day. “It’s always fun and dark and you always find interesting people there. It’s a little more moody than the average L.A. place,” Ian understates. Modeled after a French palace, the Chateau exudes low-key Hollywood glamour and sheer sex appeal. After all, the decadent but discrete Chateau has provided privacy to Howard Hughes, Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo and Jim Morrison, to name just a few who’ve indulged their passions here. What Harry Cohn (founder of Columbia Pictures – said in 1939 is just as true today: “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” Ian agrees: “The Chateau is one of my favorite places in L.A. because late night they know exactly what you’re up to.”