Through Little Saigon to the Phoenix Hotel

A few days ago, I was invited to a little shindig at the Bambuddha Lounge in the infamous Phoenix Hotel. For those not in the know, the Phoenix Hotel has long been known as a “rock and roll” hotel, popular with rock musicians and Hollywood stars. I’ve also heard tell that it’s where Marilyn Manson likes to stay when he’s in town. So, it was with curiosity and a desire to meet up with old friends that I made my way through the Tenderloin in order to get there.
Along the way, I came across a series of streets with signs welcoming me to “Little Saigon.” I had no idea we even had such a place. I mean, I knew we have a pretty big Vietnamese community, I just didn’t know there was a formal name for the neighborhood (It turns out this was a relatively recent thing; it was only this past February that they gave it the official name). According to this SF Chron article, Little Saigon consists of “the two-block corridor of Larkin Street between Eddy and O’Farrell streets.” As expected, there was an abundance of Vietnamese restaurants, most of them serving one of my favorite dishes, pho bo (Vietnamese beef noodle soup). I was tempted to try one out, but it was getting late, and I had to go to the party. I’ll probably go back there some day to try out the food.
I soon arrived at the hotel. I have to say that it really doesn’t look like a Hollywood sort of place, as it looked kinda run-down and non-descript from the outside. I’m guessing that it’s probably a place where these celebrities go to hide away from people. I entered the Bambuddha Lounge, met up with some folks and milled around for a bit. The place definitely had that mellow club vibe, with low lighting and lots of leather cushion seats. There were even these entire leather beds in the lounge area, complete with leather pillows (When they say “lounge” they really mean lounge). I didn’t spend that much time indoors though, as I soon found my way outside to the pool area. I noticed the rooms are arranged in a motor lodge sort of way, with all the rooms accessible from a balcony and overlooking the pool. I could just imagine some drunken rocker having way too much fun and jumping over the balcony into the pool ala Almost Famous. Even the pool area had these “beds” in huts, where guests could lounge around on while sipping a cocktail. There were also fire torches along a patio, where there were more seating. It was definitely a cool place to have a party.
I’ll save you the details of the party in question, as it was one of those closed-to-the-press things. Suffice to say I probably had more fun meeting up with old friends than anything else. The Bambuddha Lounge also serves food, most of which has a decidedly Asian flair (with words like Malaysian and Singaporean scattering the menu — which made me happy to no end). I didn’t eat much though, as I was more into the mingling and milling about. Although their martinis were quite delish.
Overall, I don’t know if I would stay at the hotel personally, as it is located in a rather dodgy area of the city. But it’s a cool place to check out, just to see what it looks like. You may even spot a celeb or two. Me, I’d rather be slurping up noodles at a Little Saigon restaurant down the road.

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