L.A. Luxe - Where to Stay
May 1, 2006
Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows
The Draw: A new generation is embracing the country-club splendor of the beloved Pink Palace.
Distinguished Features: The landmark hotel is iconic in many ways, from its signature pink facade and bell towers to its pool, where Raquel Welch was discovered and into which Katharine Hepburn once dived, fully clothed, after a tennis match. Behind the main building, a labyrinth of paths leads through the manicured grounds to twenty-one unique bungalows. Like the 204 guest rooms, these are constantly updated, but their 1940s Hollywoods allure in maintained, with subdued color schemes and bathrooms in Italian granite and pink Grecian marble. A small but fabulous La Prairie spa was added in 2004.
Insider Intelligence: At lunchtime a booth on the terrace of the famed Polo Lounge is almost guaranteed to deliver celebrity sightings, and the place has the best burger in town. Enjoy it after dropping your children off at the downstairs Fountain Coffee Shop, which was recently renovated but hasn't lost any of its charm - or its decor, to which the banana-leaf wall counter will attest. It's a spot favored by the hotel's VYVIPs (very young VIPs), who even receive VYVIP membership cards.
Rooms to Get:The bungalows are like homes (and that's practically what they used to be for such stars as Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe). Many guests have private entrances facing Crescent Drive. Those who prefer a shorter walk to the Polo Lounge should opt for suites in the main building.
Double rooms from $440 to $515 | Suites from $900 to $5,900 | Bungalows from $950 to $5.125
Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
The Draw: Rising sixteen stories above a palm-lined residential street, the 285-room hotel is a hot spot for the entertainment industry. And it certainly lives up to its Four Seasons name, but it's a little less formal than the brand's other properties.
Distinguishing Features: Floral designer Eric Buterbaugh's masterpieces are the hotel's trademark; they're enormous, fragrant and on view throughout the hotel. If they could talk, they would tell tales about the celebrity-haunted Gardens restaurant, pool cabanas and lobby bar, where deals are struck at breakfast, lunch and dinner, respectively. Lounging by the fourth-floor pool, surrounded by tropical succulents, is popular year-round, as are the massages administered in the outlying cabanas.
Insider Intelligence: In the week preceding the Oscars, look for the beloved bartender's annual homage: this year's concoction was the Red Carpet Martini, with vodka, pomegranate juice, Grand Marnier and edible gold leaf.
Rooms to Get Suited on the upper floors have panoramic city views from their balconies. Corner suites (such as Number 1602, which overlooks the downtown area and the Hollywood Hills) have wraparound terraces. For those who don't want to be spotted in the lobby, a private elevator from the garage can be programmed to stop at any floor.
Double rooms from $395 to $475 | Suites from $595 to $5,100
300 S. Doheny Dr.
Peninsula Beverly Hills
The Draw: Entertainment-industry executives and marquee-name actors are some of the scores of repeat guests who love the memorable personalized service and tranquil atmosphere.
Distinguishing Features: Over-the-top amenities make you feel as if you were at your own country estate from the moment you are greeted at the porte cochere. There's twenty-four-hour check-in and monogrammed pillowcases (on request). The ten poolside cabanas, which rent for $250 a day and should be booked at the same time as your room, are equipped with flat-screen televisions, heaters and ceiling fans. The adjacent rooftop cafe serves spa cuisine and cocktails.
Insider Intelligence: The recent $7 million renovation of the spa included the addition of limestone, glass and mosaic tiles to the seven treatment rooms as well as state-of-the-art gym equipment. The capable staff provides in-room and in-cabana treatments and private yoga classes. Be sure to take advantage of the hotel's other, less overtly advertised services, like access to a Lexus with any suite booking, a customized in-room minibar and Pen-Air gourmet meals (for the flight home).
Rooms to Get: The popular Patio Suites in the main building, overlooking the gardens, and the private freestanding villas are the quietest.
Double rooms from $475 to $725 | Suites from $1,000 to $3,500
9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd.
Raffles L'Ermitage Beverly Hills
The Draw: With its sophisticated Zen aesthetic and luxuriously large rooms, this place seems more like a private club than a hotel, and guests love that it's off the radar.
Distinguishing Features: L'Ermitage is situated on a residential stretch of Burton Way - which turns into one of Beverly Hill's main shopping hubs less than a mile down - but the serene Asian-inspired lobby feels removed from any city bustle. It's easy to see why the 119 rooms are preferred by business travelers, as each comes with a fax, copier and printer. You get your own telephone and fax number, and you'll appreciate the "smart" technology, which remembers your TV settings. The hotel's spa offers treatments for jet lag.
Insider Intelligence: L'Ermitage prides itself on its discretion and attention to detail. Many of its services are complimentary, including nonalcoholic beverages in the minibar. While the hotel's restaurant has not quite caught on, the Writer's Bar is a popular spot for cocktails.
Rooms to Get: Those ending in "05" have the best views of the Hollywood Hills.
Double rooms from $468 to $548 | Suites from $950 to $4.800
9291 Burton Way
Regent Beverly Wilshire
The Draw: Located at the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, this seventy-five-year-old, European-style Four Seasons hotel remain the right address for Hollywood players, heads of state and shoppers interested in the nearby luxury boutiques.
Distinguishing Features: Guests can choose between the accommodations in two towers: the classic Wilshire Wing, above the opulent lobby, and the more contemporary Beverly Wing. Rooms in both have marble bathrooms, and the service is old-world. This year's renovation includes a Richard meier-designed restaurant for Wolfgang Puck (scheduled to open this summer) and top-to-bottom room and spa refurbishments.
Insider Intelligence: Should you covet an appointment with Jennifer Aniston's hairdresser, for instance, head concierge Ann Joyce is known for her ability to fulfill any request relating to celebrity trainers, stylists and manicurists.
Rooms to Get: The Regent Beverly Wilshire has the greatest number of suites (and the most expensive ones) in Los Angeles. There are 137 in all; grand choices include the Veranda Suite, where Warren Beatty once lived, or one of the other Wilshire Wind suites with a north- or east-facing view.
Double rooms from $435 to $525 | Suites from $625 to $7,500
9500 Wilshire Blvd.
The Draw: A serene castle that belies its location above the flashy Sunset Strip, the Chateau Marmont feels more as if it were in the Loire Valley than in Hollywood. Although the hotel has a naughty history - "If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont," Harry Cohn famously recommended to hopeful starlets in 1939 - the crowd of his sophisticates it entices today comes mostly to relax.
Distinguishing Features: Since hotelier Andre Balazs revived the hotel in the 1990s, its grand lobby has had a salon like aura: cosmopolitan travelers sit beside artists on overstuffed Victorian couches. The Americana guest rooms (many have quaint kitchenettes with antique stoves and original tile) have been updated with DVD players, high-thread-count sheets and personalized "in residence" stationery.
Insider Intelligence: Because of the size of the hotel's restaurant (eight tables in the dining room and seventeen in the secluded outdoor courtyard), only guests and the Hollywood network known by the reservations managers can secure spots at dinner. Lunch is slightly easier, depending on the weather. A-list actors often meet with agents or producers at the hidden tables in the inside dining room, so you may be able to grab one of the outside rounds or the long banquette.
Rooms to Get: The Sunset Boulevard-facing Premiere Suites on the fourth through the seventh floors have balconies with vistas of the city. All bedrooms were recently renovated with double-paned glass to shut out noise from outside.
Double rooms from $335 to $425 | Suites from $470 to $3,000
8221 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
Sunset Tower Hotel
The Draw: Formerly the Argyle, this Art Deco jewel was recently restored to its original grandeur but with a contemporary sensibility for those who have graduated from the rock'n'roll of the Sunset Strip.
Distinguishing Features: Compared to its dramatic tower (15 stories of windowed columns and horizontal friezes depicting pagan gods), the hotel's interior is a more subtle interpretation of 1920s style. Forty of the seventy-four rooms are suites or junior suites; all have minimalist furnishings and modern amenities, including flat-screen televisions, iPod docks and Wi-Fi connectivity. The tony Tower Bar, a restaurant that appeals to people of all ages nightly, is home to two fixtures: beloved maitre d' Dimitri Dimitrov and jazz pianist Page Cavanaugh, both of whom recall the same era that the hotel strives to evoke.
Insider Intelligence: The 7,000-square-foot Argyle Salon & Spa is still one of the best-kept secrets in town. It has four suited for massages and a medical-treatment rooms for Botox injections and laser hair removal. There's also the city's only traditional Turkish bath. Men will appreciate the separate barbershop for wet shaves and shoe shines; it has wood paneling and a humidor.
Rooms to Get: Each of the two side-by-side top-floor penthouse suites has floor-to-ceiling windows, a fantastic wraparound balcony and a living room and dining room. The limestone bathroom is graced with a big soaking tub.
Double rooms from $265 to $495 | Suites from $395 to $3,000
8358 Sunset Blvd. W. Hollywood
The Draw: Honeymooners and privacy-seeking celebrities love the gorgeous suites of the Bel-Air, which is situated amid bucolic gardens and feels worlds away from the city.
Distinguishing Features: A true hideaway since the 1940s, the pink Mission-style hotel is surrounded by twelve acres of lushly landscaped grounds. Many of the suites feature private courtyards with fountains. Recently renovated, the place is nothing if not secluded. It's a quick drive through the residential Bel Air canyons down to Sunset Boulevard and then to Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, or to San Vicente, in Brentwood.
Insider Intelligence: The elegant Restaurant at the Bel-Air, under the direction of chef Bruno Lopez, is well-known as a prime location for special-occasion dinner or brunch. But many people are not aware that Table One, its in-kitchen dining room, can be reserved for seven-course instructional dinners with wine pairings. The new Wine Terrace, where receptions with winemakers take place, can also be booked for parties.
Rooms to Get: A longtime favorite is Room 240, which has bay windows and an amazing view of the lake. The suites are among the most romantic in the city, but in particular, you can't go wrong choosing the Swan Lake Suite ($1.550 a night), with its attractive terrace and wood-burning fireplace, or the Herb Garden Suite ($3,000 a night), with its hand-painted vaulted ceilings and view of the enormous herb garden.
Double rooms from $395 to $600 | Suites from $800 to $3,700
701 Stone Canyon Rd, Bel Air
Shutters on the Beach
The Draw; The most luxurious of the beachfront hotels is casual and laid-back, but it doesn't skimp on high-end services and amenities.
Distinguishing Features: On the exterior, Shutters is all Cape Cod cottage: gray shingles, flower-covered trellises and striped awnings. On the inside, thought, it features sleek rooms that were recently redesigned by Michael Smith, a contemporary art collection (including works by David Hockney, Robert Motherwell, Richard Diebenkorn and Roy Lichtenstein) and a fantastic Ole Henriksen spa.
Insider Intelligence: A recent rebranding leans a little too far to the whimsical (juggling lessons are offered every Wednesday on the pool deck), but the HOPES and DREAMS buttons on the phones connect to concierges who can help guests arrange private yacht rentals and historical tours.
Rooms to Get: The best take advantage of the hotel's oceanfront location. Room 302 is the most requested suite because of its unobstructed ocean vistas and proximity to the beach. Rooms 534 and 535 are spacious and face the sea, but they are set back and are above the swimming pool.
Double rooms from $480 to $775 | Suites from $1,075 to $3,000
1 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica