Browsing Tag

rock stars

Celebrity, My LA story, Posts

The Australian accent makes us cringe but the Americans love it

My daughter and I were at the hairdresser—she was getting her hair done and I was getting my brows done. There was a guy next to me talking about what he’d been up to. He had been shooting on the East Coast, jamming with some old band mates and had some stories about seeing Paul McCartney or Elton John or insert some other mega rock stars name.

Having a couple of rock star dads at our school I was listening but not as intently as I would have been a year ago (when I was all starry eyed and simply COULD NOT believe one move could me zero to one degrees of separation from my favourite rock acts.  Do I need to remind you–or skite–that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to two mega rock stars now?).

Then he got talking about his next project. Everyone in LA has a “project”. It’s the thing. Generally everyone’s working on a project, has one in the pipeline and is talking to someone else about making the third project closer to reality. These projects are also best discussed at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

So he says, “Yeah, I’m headed down to Australia and I’m shooting in BrisBANE (pronounce bain in this case not bun in a kiwi accent), going to Central Australia and down to Tasmania.”

“Dude. How do I talk to these people?” he asks his hairdresser (who he’s obviously known for a long time). “Do I say, like, G’day mate? Let’s put a shrimp on the Barbie. Will they even understand me?”

That seemed about the right time to pipe up and so I said, “Should I come clean now?”

“Oh no, wow, an Australian. Dude, how do I talk to you?”

“What do you mean how do you talk to me—to us? We speak English. OK, granted we don’t speak ‘merican but we speak English.”

“Yeah dude, that’s it, like, what words do you use?”

“For starters we don’t say shrimp, we call them prawns”.

“That’s what I’m talking about dude, will everyone laugh at me when I speak, like, American?”

“Mate, they’ll laugh at you more if you try to speak Australian.”

“Wow, far out.”

I could have been mean and set him up and told him Australians would love it if he did a bit of research in the different words we use and then localised his language accordingly. But I couldn’t do it—and I told him as much.

It’s true though, we can Americanise our speaking because we know what words Americans use instead of ours–like shrimps and prawns; or ride and lift.  There are moments when I could be speaking Mandarin my friends don’t understand a word I’m saying.

“Oh man, I’m terrified.”

“You’ll be fine.”

A really nice guy, but this is something that happens in America, not so much in Australia—you just strike up full-blown conversations with strangers. A hairdresser is one place but I’ve seen, heard (and had) conversations in the Post Office queue, at the supermarket and in the middle of the street.

I think that guy just wanted to show off his lousy Australian accent (let’s face it Americans just cannot do an Australian accent—remember Meryl Streep, “A dingo’s got my baby”?). I’m told we’re not that great either and that you can tell when you’re putting the accent on.

Lately I’ve been stopped and asked to talk so they could listen to my accent—a bit like seeing a cute dog in the street and asking them to sit???

But it’s all well-meaning, they’re naturally curious and friendly and despite being so Americentric they are interested in other parts of the world.  And they’re especially interested in Australia: “I’ve never been but I want to some day.  It’s just so far”.

When that crazy, loud American is in our part of the world, don’t take five giant steps to take a wide berth. They actually enjoy meeting people and talking to others about their lives. You might surprise yourself and find you have more in common than you think. Call it your good deed for the day.

Share your stories below and pics on Instagram with the hashtag #Amerifriend.

But if they’re the Jerry Seinfeld variety with bright white runners and jeans feel free to take the wide berth. We do here too.

xx It Started in LA xx

Hotel Bel Air
My LA story, Posts, Visiting LA

The debonnaire Hotel Bel-Air





Timeless elegance with a modern twist; serene yet “happening” the Hotel Bel-Air is  a secret oasis in the heart of anything-but-modest Bel-Air. If you want to feel like a movie star (or a rock star for that matter) who just wants to be left alone stay at Hotel Bel-Air.

It Started in LA rating: 3 ticks √√√ (just needs to sort out this retched boycott mess to bring it up to 4.5.)

A Resort crossed between a boutique Hotel crossed between a Health Retreat (or how I imagine a Health Retreat to be) is how I can best sum up Hotel Bel-Air.

As I walked through the reception foyer, past the firepit and onto the grounds of the Hotel Bel-Air I immediately felt like I was a movie star.  Or was that rock star? I’m not sure.  I did see a couple of people who looked like movie stars on my visit.  Perhaps that was all I needed to make me feel special.  (I did feel like all eyes were on me as I walked past the breakfasting guests but I think it was the clunking of my boots rather than the wonder at “who” I was!)

Also part of the Dorchester Collection it bears little resemblance to its sister hotel the Beverly Hills Hotel yet they both reek of class and that “je ne sais quoi” that makes you want to soak it all up hoping it will wear off on you.

Surrounded by 12 acres of lush gardens Hotel Bel-Air has 58 guestrooms and 45 suites, including 7 one of a kind specialty suites.  It’s small, it’s intimate, it’s quiet and it’s very LA.

I love that LA is casual, polo shirts yet classy all at the same time.  This is the feeling you get at Hotel Bel-Air.  You feel like you should be in your best, most crisp but casual clothes and I felt out of place (and decidedly overdressed) with my vivid blue high-heeled boots, linen shorts & matching blue pleather jacket.

I have yet to eat here but the menu looks divine (after all it’s one of Wolfgang Puck’s signature restaurants).

So what about the rooms?

The rooms take on a more modern feel leaning towards great use of outdoor spaces through terraces and outdoor balconies, which is easy to do given the setting.

Many rooms have fireplaces (they come standard in the Grand Deluxe) and offers a technology bent with complimentary iPads (no, you have to leave them in the room when you go but you get to use them while you’re there) and a nifty app where you can order everything you need through the iPad.

The Junior suites are bungalow style by the pool and while I didn’t get to check one out myself the pics look nice.  They are also in the far end of the property making them a little more secluded.

Where should you stay?

The Canyon section consists of 12 rooms each well appointed and it’s quite popular.  The Grand Deluxe rooms are really nice with an indoor wood-burning fire, private entry and outdoor courtyard.  My favourite was the upstairs suite complete with its own jacuzzi.

Hotel Bel-Air balcony

What’s there not to like about the balcony of this suite? It Started in LA


Really it’s all nice here.  It was shut down for a complete refurbishment in September and reopened in grand style two years later on October 2011.  The rooms are designed in such a way that you don’t feel “ripped off” if you didn’t book the best room in the house which is always a good feeling.

People go to the Beverly Hills Hotel to do deals and be seen.  People come to Hotel Bel-Air to get away from it all, have some downtime (while still being seen).

Picnic at Hotel Bel Air

Hotel Bel Air can arrange a picnic on its grounds


The Hotel Bel-Air, while much quieter than I usually like, definitely requires more exploring. While I’m here I’m keen to book a picnic on the tranquil grounds enjoying fine food and Champagne.  All old-world English style.  With a dash of LA.

The Bel-Air Hotel is steeped in LA history. Bel-Air–as you might know from my fact or fiction section is not an actual suburb rather a 600-acre estate  acquired by Alphonso E. Bell to be known as “Bel-Air.” Determined that the estates would become an exclusive and upscale neighborhood, he enhanced the surrounding area with new roads, utilities, a country club and lush, exotic vegetation.

According to its own website, “For the next few decades Bell’s dream flourished. In 1946 Joseph Drown, a hotel entrepreneur from Texas, purchased 18 acres, and the land offices, and began plans to create an elegant pastoral hotel hideaway encompassing most of the land. Drown immediately hired architect Burton Schutt to convert the buildings and construct the 62 rooms of what was to become Hotel Bel-Air. Drown transformed the grounds into lush, beautiful gardens, adding Swan Lake to the picturesque front lawn. He had a vision of creating a natural California oasis, planting palms, ficus trees and perennial blooms. Drown also closed the Stone Canyon stables and built the sparkling oval-shaped pool at the site of the original riding ring. The hotel opened on August 24, 1946.”

Oooozing Hollywood style taken in 1951 | It Started in LA

Oooozing Hollywood style taken in 1951 | It Started in LA


Over the years many films have been shot at the hotel and its charm continues to grow.  Recently it has been a little scarred by its owner Brunei leader Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, instituting Islamic Shariah criminal law in his home country.  Most of the focus remains on its sister hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel however.

It’s unclear how long the boycott may last but some people are changing their perspective or opinions.  Here’s an article (dated July 4) that might give you a different perspective. Either way I’d like to share the hotel with you and you decide whether or not you’d like to stay there.

Stay at the Hotel Bel-Air if:

  • you want a bit of seclusion yet are still close to Beverly Hills and other shopping districts
  • you want to see and be seen–don’t mistake its quiet ambiance for not happening but stay cool this is a place to go to get away from it all
  • you’re prepared to embrace the LA thing and drive everywhere (there are shuttles to nearby shopping districts and direct to the Beverly Hills Hotel)
  • you can afford it–if you’re going to do, do it properly; and enjoy it.

Don’t stay at the Hotel Bel-Air if you’re looking for a party atmosphere, this definitely errs more on the side of retreat than hotel.

Enjoy and do share with me how you enjoyed your stay.  And who you saw ;-).

xx It Started in LA xx

Special offers can be found at the hotel’s website and there are some pretty attractive ones there.  More about the hotel’s history can also be found on its website.

All pictures with thanks to Hotel Bel-Air, Dorchester Collection.

%d bloggers like this: