Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Beverly Hills hotel, Los Angeles

28 Apr 2018 by Jenny Southan
The Beverly Hills hotel

BACKGROUND

Opened in 1912, two years before Beverly Hills itself was incorporated, the Beverly Hills hotel is one of Los Angeles’ oldest, most glamorous hotels. Part of Dorchester Collection, which also has the Le Meurice in Paris and 45 Park Lane in London, the property has been undergoing renovations over the last few years (the main house was completed in 2015).

Dorchester Collection says: “Throughout the project, careful attention was paid to respect the hotel’s original style, ensuring that the signature red-carpet entrance, CW Stockwell-designed banana leaf wallpaper, green and white stripes, and famous pink exterior remained constants.”

The final stage has been the 23 bungalows that are dotted around the grounds among lush tropical gardens and palm trees, with Champalimaud Design assigned to modernising them. By the end of the year, they will all have been given an elegant facelift. So far bungalows five, eight, 11, 22 and all the Garden residences have been done, meaning there about eight left to go.

Although the hotel itself continues to attract a celebrity following, it’s the bungalows that have the most iconic stars associated with them, with previous guests including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlene Dietrich. The interiors themselves have taken inspiration from the Golden Age of Hollywood, with Bungalow 3 inspired by Howard Hughes and Bungalow 9 dedicated to Charlie Chaplin, for example.

Edward A Mady, regional director, West Coast, USA and general manager, says: “We look forward to providing our guests with an enhanced experience that will lovingly highlight the bungalows’ unique features and legendary history with Hollywood and the Beverly Hills community. Great care is being taken to maintain their beloved features, which include their residential style and privacy, while also allowing us to stay internationally relevant with the next generation of luxury travellers.”

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The hotel sits on 12 acres of prime real-estate, planted with palms, banana plants and colourful flowers, and fringed with manicured lawns. In a sprawling city such as LA, it provides a welcome oasis, especially when you are in town for work. Coming to the city on business might feel like a chore but staying here allows you to decompress in between meetings and actually enjoy yourself. Guests arrive on a red carpet leading to reception where staff provide a warm, effusive greeting. Above is a Venetian glass chandelier and gold-leaf ceiling.

The environment is very much what five-star should be, in a wonderfully classic way, with opulent furnishings, specially commissioned artwork, abundant floral arrangements, handwritten note cards in the rooms and top-class service. The heritage of the property is very much in evidence with the original lifts upholstered in green velvet and popular hangouts such as the retro Fountain Room still in operation. It feels peaceful yet buzzy, secluded yet showy. For those who really want to get away from it all, Dorchester Collection’s Bel Air hotel is just down the road – the Beverly Hills is the place to be seen.

Lobby at The Beverly Hills Hotel

WHERE IS IT?

In Beverly Hills 90210. It’s giant green sign with white script is easy to spot on Sunset Boulevard, as is its strawberry pink exterior. The property itself is set back from the road, however, with valets and porters outside to take care of your vehicle and luggage. Los Angeles International airport (LAX) is about a 20-minute drive away. Depending on traffic, you can get to Downtown LA in about half an hour.

ROOM FACILITIES

Rooms come in five categories – Superior, followed by Superior with Balcony, Deluxe, Bungalow King room and Deluxe with Balcony. There are also a wide variety of suites from Junior to Presidential. Starting from 37 sqm, all come with marble bathrooms complete with double washbasins, showers and separate tubs, king-size beds with bespoke linens embroidered with the hotel’s logo, walk-in closets, Bang and Olufsen TVs, minibars, free wifi, air conditioning, USB sockets by the bed, sturdy workdesks, 24 hour room service and free water at turndown. Another nice touch is the collectable branded soaps and bathing products.

Interiors are homely with well-chosen artwork, colourful cushions, soft rugs, inviting chaises, heavy drapery and comfortable armchairs. As you move up categories you will find you get more space, better views (mine looked on to the garden, which was lovely), fireplaces, balconies and terraces, as well as added amenities such as daily newspapers, fresh orchids, whirlpool baths and bottles of complimentary champagne. The decor does vary but the aesthetic remains more of less the same. Laundry and dry cleaning is, of course, available, as is complimentary shoeshine.

Of the revamped bungalows, which are standalone homes in themselves with kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms, Dorchester Collection says: “Designed exclusively to enhance the feeling of effortless and modern Californian style while maintaining the property’s existing residential feel, the bungalows include colour palettes inspired by warm Southern California tones, such as rust, pinks, greens and golds.

“Furniture styles include a mix of tailored 40’s French and Hollywood Regency, enhancing the bungalows welcoming layout and design. Key finishes include decorative wallpapers, custom embroidered panels, hand-stencilled patterns, intricate floor inlays and silk accent pillows. State-of-the-art technological upgrades, such as light and temperature control panels and premier Bang and Olufsen TVs, are also planned.” All bungalows vary in style – features might include spa baths, treadmills, silk robes, pianos, wood-burning fireplaces and antique bronze light fixtures. Two of the bungalows have private pools.

Premier Suite at The Beverly Hills Hotel

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

As well as the intimate Fountain Coffee Room diner (open 7am-7pm), which has been serving burgers, shakes and grilled cheese sandwiches at a retro sit-up counter since 1949, the hotel has three other drinking and dining venues. Bar Nineteen 12 (open 6pm-1am) is a relaxed place for sunset cocktails on the terrace, while the poolside Cabana Cafe (open 11am-3pm) is a semi-al fresco hangout ideal for informal lunches.

The menu lists a variety of dishes, some healthier than others, ranging from pizza and truffle fries to ahi tuna poke bowls and the hotel’s famous finely chopped McCarthy salad, made from romaine lettuce, organic chicken, egg, roasted beetroot, bacon, avocado, Cheddar cheese, tomato and balsamic dressing. Apparently, 40 per cent of the hotel’s food orders are for this dish and it generates over US$1 million a year.

The Polo Lounge is the hotel’s main restaurant, serving breakfast, Sunday brunch (with live jazz – highly recommended if you are still in town), lunch and dinner. You’ll often spot famous actors and overhear Hollywood agents wheeling and dealing at nearby tables, so there is a definite buzz about the place.

At night, it is dimly lit, and on warm evenings and during the day you can sit outside on its beautiful Mediterranean-style garden terrace. In addition to providing a glamorous setting for any client dinner, the eclectic menu manages to suit all manner of tastes and preferences – Polo Lounge classics include steak tartare (US$41), tortilla soup (US$20) and Wagyu burger with smoked blue cheese (US$43).

Bungalow 24 at The Beverly Hills

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The Beverly Hills has a good range of function space. Starting from the smallest, for meetings there is the 12-person Boardroom, while the Polo Private Room can accommodate 36 to 100 delegates in a venue that has doors opening on to a garden terrace. For larger events, there is the Sunset Ballroom with space for up to 220 people, the 380-capacity Rodeo Ballroom, and finally the 704 sqm Crystal Ballroom for up to 850 guests. It has a built-in stage, dance floor, rose chandeliers and access to the Crystal Garden, which works well as a pre-function area. Banqueting services are provided by executive chef Kaleo Adams, and the hotel can also help with flowers and entertainment.

LEISURE FACILITIES

Although I didn’t try it, the 178 sqm spa uses products from Valmont and the Organic Pharmacy. It has six treatment rooms, plus steam rooms and saunas. The place I spent as much time as possible was down by the outdoor pool, which is for hotel guests only and has a generous amount of loungers, 11 cabanas for hire and an additional upper deck area for sunbathing or taking calls with a cocktail. There is also a spa bath at one end and underwater music. Staff are always on hand to provide towels, iced water, fruit skewers and anything else you might need. There is an on-site store for Beverly Hills hotel-branded banana-leaf-print merchandise.

VERDICT

One of the best hotels in LA, a stay here doesn’t come cheap but the Beverly Hills is unlike any other property you will stay in and gives you a sense of place like no other. It’s a prestigious address for business people and also allows for enjoyable downtime at its bars, restaurants and outdoor pool. You can understand why it’s the kind of place that attracts a lot of repeat custom. Not to be missed.

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 185 rooms and suites in the main part of the hotel. There are five categories of rooms and 14 categories of suites, plus two signature suites. There are also 23 bungalows.
  • HIGHLIGHTS Dinner or a jazz brunch at the Polo Lounge, the distinctive decor (the banana leaf wallpaper is very special), the outdoor pool, revamped bungalows and, of course, the fantastic service.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in May started from US$700 for a Superior room. Bungalows cost from $2,500 a night
  • CONTACT The Beverly Hills hotel, 9,641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills; tel +1 310 276 2251; dorchestercollection.com
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