Peering up from my activated matcha just long enough to spot Michael Keaton across the street, I’m struck by the study in contrasts. There he is, the very picture of pharma-dystopia, his dead-eyed Dopesick castmates staring out alongside him from their pill-spattered poster on a Downtown LA wall. And here I am, a seeming paragon of holistic wellness, fresh-pressed elixirs of a thousand fruits and spices bejeweling my sun-dappled table at Cafe Fig.
But I’m even newer to my role than those Hulu stars are to theirs: I’ve woken up unrecognizably refreshed after my best night’s sleep since the Before Times, and I’m hoping to keep this novel version of myself around for as long as I can. Suddenly, ordering half a dozen elixirs seems a reasonable alternative to my traditional bottomless cup of coffee.
The fact that I’ve woken up de-stressed and energized, though a seeming miracle, is no coincidence. After a pandemic’s worth of anxiety sleep, I’ve come to the historic, and recently renovated, Hotel Figueroa to check out a new take on a longstanding trend: accommodations and programming that place a premium on real rest. From Lotte New York Palace’s Hastens Ultimate Sleep Suite to the Sleep program on offer at a number of Six Senses properties in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and beyond, the promise of prime slumber spans the globe. Luckily for me, one of the most intriguing new variations on the theme lay closer to home.
The recently launched Rest and Recovery Suite is one of only two custom suites ever created in the 95 years since the Fig (as she’s known to her legions of fans) began life as a YWCA. “In light of pandemic’s toll on not only the quantity of sleep people are getting, but also the quality, we really want to give new meaning to R&R,” says Connie Wang, the hotel’s managing director, about the creation of the experience. “So the Rest & Recovery Suite is specifically designed to soothe pandemic-rattled psyches and counteract what experts are calling ‘coronosomnia.’”
Accordingly, the space itself is a visual tranquilizer, all zinc velvet seating, sky-blue paintings and burnished, soothing touches of gold. It’s also chock full of thoughtful wellness accoutrements that each serves a distinct purpose. There’s the Eight Sleep mattress, commonly touted as the best overnight cooling surface but just as effective at warming, and mercifully customizable to each side of the bed. The Forme fitness mirror grants access to countless stretching, yoga and meditation classes (to say nothing of all the cardio, strength training, dance and boxing classes, if you’re so inclined), while the Hypervolt percussive muscle massager comes with various attachments, all aimed squarely at melting tension.
To help you stay refreshed there’s Beam spring water with hydrating and energizing mix-ins, but hands-down the most bizarrely soothing tech in the room is the Normatec compression gear—a full-body blood-pressure cuff-like suit that inflates, squeezes and releases you periodically over the course of a pre-set cycle to help increase circulation, reduce soreness and encourage restoration.
My favorite detail, however, is the personalized Pluto pillow, which you get to take home with you. When you’re booking the suite online, the link at the bottom of the page takes you directly to a series of questions about your sleep habits to help custom-create the perfect pillow for your needs. As long as you answer them at least two days before check-in, the locally produced pillow (which is offered at a discount as part of your reservation) will be waiting for you in the suite’s living room.
As impressed as I am that a custom pillow turned up mere days after I ordered it, the even bigger feat is that Pluto turned my peculiar request into reality. After answering the requisite questions about my height, weight and preferred softness level, head elevation and surface texture, here’s how I described my platonic ideal of a pillow: “I’d like something nontoxic, soft and fairly flat that would work for a current side and stomach sleeper who aspires to be a back sleeper.”
It seemed like a vague (and tall) order, but sure enough, on my maiden Pluto voyage the night of my stay, I went to sleep on my stomach but woke up the next morning on my back, as if some fairy godmother of R&R were providing middle-of-the-night turn-over service—not entirely out of the question, given all the fascinating characters who’ve passed through here over the past 95 years.
Speaking of, on my way to the oasis-like pool area after breakfast, I was sidetracked by a series of archival photos in the lobby. Gazing out at me from one of the most striking black and whites was none other than Maude Bouldin, her demurely flowing ensemble and crossed legs belying her gender norm-challenging habits: flying planes, riding motorcycles and becoming the first female hotel manager in the US with the opening of this hotel in 1926.
Under Bouldin’s leadership, the Fig became a safe haven for solo female travelers (who often were not allowed to check in to a hotel without a male chaperone), as well as a welcoming space for like-minded women to meet to discuss politics, art, activism and social change. Though she may not look the part of fairy godmother, I imagine Maude would be pleased that all these years later, her hotel’s guests are still coming here to live their best lives. Rates for the Rest & Recovery Suite start at $450 per night.