WHAT’S IT LIKE? A red carpet leads from the driveway, where valets in chinos, white trainers and polo shirts are always on-hand, to the lobby, which feels cosy and welcoming with thick carpets, soft lighting, velvety sofas and floral arrangements. The corridors connecting to the rooms are strikingly exotic, with hand-painted banana leaf wallpaper. The bungalows that are placed in the grounds of the hotel are discretely positioned on winding pathways lined with vibrant flowers, trees and foliage, adding to the feel of a glamorous oasis apart from reality.
One of nine members of the Dorchester Collection (dorchestercollection.com), the “Pink Palace”, as it is also known, opened in 1912. During the twenties it became popular with movie stars of the silent screen, but just before the market crashed in 1928, the owner, Margaret Anderson, made the canny decision to sell it. During the Depression the property closed down, but in 1932 it reopened and entered a new era of success, with numerous actors and celebrities frequenting it. The Beverly Hills was given a US$100 million facelift in the 1990s.
WHERE IS IT? Set on a private driveway just off Sunset Boulevard. It’s a few minutes by car to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and 24km from Los Angeles International airport. Overnight valet parking costs US$34.
ROOM FACILITIES Bedrooms are decorated in pale pink, cream and gold, with dark wood furniture, patterned carpets, and armchairs upholstered in floral fabrics. Although I prefer minimalist Scandinavian design, I didn’t find the décor as disagreeable as I expected – it was light, fresh and in keeping with the feel of the property.
Standard category Superior rooms are 35 sqm and are located on the first three floors of the main building. Basic features include marble bathrooms with robes and slippers, wifi internet access, minibars, daily newspapers and workdesks, while higher category rooms have additional elements such as balconies and fireplaces. My Superior corner room had a wrap-around terrace with doors that opened on to it. There was also a coffee table, a small walk-in wardrobe, and a large bathroom with a tub and a power shower.
The hotel opened two new Presidential bungalows earlier in the year, with more than 500 sqm of space in each, their own private entrances, living rooms, kitchens, private pools, fireplaces, exercise areas, entertainment systems and outdoor showers. They are not available to book online though, and start from US$9,000 a night.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS I had a very enjoyable lunch one afternoon at the poolside Cabana Café (open seasonally 9am-6pm), sampling a California garden vegetable burger with marinated tomato salad, cucumber and yoghurt sauce, avocado and coleslaw (US$18), along with a spicy bloody Mary. It’s a fun place to soak in the atmosphere and side-by-side with the locals and guests alike – many of who are Hollywood agents, screenwriters, actors (and wannabes), so expect to overhear some interesting conversations if you are there alone.
The famous Polo Lounge, which has played host to numerous celebrities over the years – from the Rat Pack to Marlene Dietrich – is open 7.0am to 1.30am for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. I had a meeting here one morning and found it to be a little old-fashioned in style – too much green velvet and granny-like chintz, but the food was excellent and the portions huge. I ordered an asparagus, cherry tomato and Gruyere cheese omelette that came with hash browns and toast (US$23), but other options included buttermilk pancakes, Belgian waffles and eggs Benedict with lobster. Main meals at dinner time average US$40.
The compact Fountain coffee room has 19 high-topped bar stools for at-counter sodas and light bites. It’s open 7am-7pm but I didn’t get the chance to try stop by. I did, however, visit Bar 1912 late one evening and sat at the bar for a good 20 minutes waiting to be served. It wasn’t busy but the girl on duty seemed to ignore me, making a cocktail before taking it into the kitchen and then not reappearing. In the end I gave up and went to my room. Not what you would expect.
Unless you are as eccentric and wealthy as the late Howard Hughes (the film producer and aviator who demanded staff leave him roast beef sandwiches in the trees) near his bungalow, then there is also 24-hour room service offering dishes such as penne pasta with garlic shrimp for US$33 and jumbo all-beef hot dog for US$14.75.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The hotel has more than 2,000 sqm of indoor function space and 446 sqm of outdoor space, and the property prides itself on offering “a unique and private location for high-profile executives who wish to avoid the typical hotel business setting”. As well as the Polo private-dining room and a boardroom for meetings of up to 12 delegates, there are three ballrooms.
The Rodeo ballroom (750 people reception-style) has crystal chandeliers and French doors that open on to a terrace, while the Sunset (270 theatre-style) sports hand-painted murals of the sky on the walls and ceiling, and the opulent Crystal ballroom (560 banquet-style) features a built-in stage and access to gardens and a gazebo. Baby grand pianos are available on-request, and all spaces have natural light and wifi access. Bar 1912 can also be hired for private parties of up to 206 guests and the Polo garden can seat 240 in fine weather.
LEISURE FACILITIES The open-air pool has underwater music, 21 private cabanas and plenty of loungers for relaxing in the sun. It is open daily from 7am to 10pm and plenty of handsome staff in white polo shirts and shorts are on-hand to provide fresh towels and take orders for food and drink. There is a gym on the promenade level that features Matrix cardio-vascular fitness equipment and free weights, while the 178 sqm La Prairie spa on the same floor offers more than 40 different treatments and is open 8am to 10pm daily. A 60-minute gentleman’s facial costs US$210.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 208 rooms and suites across 15 categories including standard-level Superior, Deluxe King, Premier King with Patio, Junior and Rodeo suites. There are also 23 individually designed bungalows.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The large balcony overlooking palm trees and peaceful gardens, the custom-designed bathing products in the bathrooms and the comfy bed.
VERDICT An iconic luxury hotel steeped in vintage glamour. The service was generally very good, the free limousine transfer to destinations within a 7km radius was helpful, and the lush setting provided a welcome dose of green in the concrete jungle that is LA. The décor might be a little fusty for some, but that is all part of its charm.
For something sleeker, try the Dorchester Collection’s nearby Hotel Bel Air, which was given an extensive revamp in October. Click here for more information.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in January started from US$680 for a Superior room.
CONTACT 9,641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, LA; tel +1 310 2762 251; beverlyhillshotel.com