- Limited dining on-site
- Relatively small standard rooms
- 10- to 15-minute walk (or quick drive) to main Beverly Hills shopping area
- Fee for in-room Wi-Fi
- Pricey valet and self-parking (typical for L.A.)
This Hollywood icon is not your average Hilton.
Forget your preconceptions about the Hilton name, be it the image of a sexy socialite or a midlevel hotel chain. You're more likely to see Paris Hilton at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and this Hilton isn't just another generic business-friendly hotel. Built by Conrad Hilton in 1955 at the busy Beverly Hills intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, the stately white building emblazoned with a classic red Beverly Hilton logo -- not the chain's ubiquitous blue "H" -- is a Los Angeles icon.
The Golden Globe Awards are held in the hotel's International Ballroom, and nearly 175 red carpet events bring in the stars all year. The hallways are filled with black-and-white photographs of stars from Marilyn Monroe to Esther Williams, who presided over the opening of the pool. And the hotel's famous faces aren't limited to the Hollywood crowd. Every president from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton stayed in the hotel's Presidential Suite.
From 1987 to 2003, the hotel was owned by entertainer Merv Griffin. In 2003, the new owners embarked on a $80 million renovation that wrapped up in 2006. Today, with its lovely midcentury architecture and signature starburst decorating everything from lounge chairs to windows, the hotel feels like an elegant vintage suit that's never been worn. The lobby, with a contemporary abstract painting stretching across an entire wall, feels bright and fresh, while modern, midcentury style furniture echos the hotel's past.
Service is luxury level (a house car, full food and drink service at the pool). But with turndown only by request, the hotel can't quite match service at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire. Still, the Hilton is typically quite a bit more affordable than the Beverly Wilshire. While standard rooms, which start at just under 350 square feet, are small compared to the 425-square-foot standard rooms at the InterContinental Century City, that hotel lacks the Hilton's historic charm. What's more, the Hilton's rooms feel larger and airier than the square footage suggests, and are more modern than similarly sized standard rooms at the Beverly Wilshire.
For those looking to be right in the middle of Beverly Hills shopping, however, the Beverly Wilshire is superior. Guests there just walk out the door to reach the main shopping and dining district, while at the Beverly Hilton, it's about a 10- or 15-minute walk to Rodeo Drive. Still, for leisure travelers, the hotel's affordable glamour is a great deal, and, with two business centers and blazingly fast Internet in rooms, the hotel is a top pick for business travelers wanting a bit of history along with conference rooms.
Not quite full luxury, but still pretty great
With nightly turndown an option, not automatic, service falls just short of utter luxury, but guests will still find some lovely touches here, and the professional, unpretentious staff makes every guest feel at home. That's not something you can say for every Beverly Hills hotel. One nice perk that we encountered at no other hotel in the area, even the tony Beverly Hills Hotel and Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire: Parking valets stock car cup holders with fresh bottles of water every time they retrieve a car.
On a busy intersection in Beverly Hills, a few minutes from the shopping
The hotel is in Beverly Hills, an enclave of wealthy living and luxury shopping in the middle of L.A.'s westside, at the busy intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards. Though the hotel has a Wilshire Boulevard address, this stretch of Wilshire Boulevard is far less pedestrian friendly than the section in front of the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire, which is less than a mile away. Traffic moves quickly across four lanes, and upscale department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York are about a half mile down the road, whereas they're nearly next door neighbors to the Beverly Wilshire.
The hotel's main entrance sits back from Wilshire on Merv Griffin Drive, named for the onetime owner. Luxury shopping on Rodeo Drive is a 10- to 15-minute walk from the hotel, but since getting there involves crossing busy streets, guests might prefer to have the house car drive them. This is Los Angeles after all; people drive, not walk.
Not huge but elegant and well designed
With thick white molding, a pleasing neutral color palette, and Eames desk chairs, rooms are soothing but stylish. Work stations have a convenient strip of outlets and desks with one leg on wheels so they can be pulled out.
The majority of the rooms are in the main Wilshire Tower, but the cheapest standard rooms are in the small, four-story Oasis Building. Entry-level rooms in the Wilshire Tower are called Deluxe Rooms and cost a bit more than similar size standard rooms in the Oasis Building. (Standard rooms are 348 square feet, while Deluxe Rooms are 344.) Some, but not all, Deluxe Rooms have small balconies. Many guests prefer the larger Wilshire Tower.
With two business centers, a large pool, a great fitness center, and a nice (but not great) spa, the hotel's features ably compete with what the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire offer. Inaugurated by star Esther Williams in 1955, the Olympic-size, 92-foot long Aqua Star Pool is the largest heated pool in Beverly Hills. Landscaped with towering palms and surrounded by cabanas, the pool feels just as glamorous today.
Pet under 25 pounds allowed
Dogs have been allowed at the hotel since it opened, making it one of the first pet-friendly hotels in the country. Today, the Hilton allows pets under 25 pounds but does little else for four-legged guests.
Not a hotel that caters to families, but it can accommodate them
With a warm, unpretentious atmosphere and a large pool, the hotel isn't a bad pick for families, but it's not an ideal one. Beverly Hills itself is more geared towards business travelers and serious shoppers; it's about a half-hour's drive from Universal Studios, one of the top family attractions in the area. And the Hilton doesn't offer welcome amenities for children or have a special area by the pool for them, as the more expensive Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire does. However, it does have some accommodations for families.
Quite clean, save for some pool debris
After a massive renovation that was completed in 2006, the the hotel feels clean and fresh, like a vintage dress that's never been worn. Guestrooms appeared thoroughly cleaned, save for a light coat of dust on the glass top of the nightstand. Common areas, like the lobby and fitness center, were spotless.
In the spa, there is some faint mildew in the showers, but overall, the hotel feels quite clean, especially for a historic property.
A restaurant and two bars, but no celebrity chefs and little culinary excitement
Compared to the nearby Beverly Hills Hotel and its Polo Lounge or the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire and its Wolfgang Puck-helmed hotspot CUT, the Beverly Hilton's dining options are ho-hum. Until 2007, the hotel hosted the original Los Angeles outpost of the tiki institution Trader Vic's. Sadly, Trader Vic's has now moved poolside, where it connects to the restaurant, Circa 55, but it utterly lacks the personality of the original. The hotel restaurant, Circa 55, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but its Californian cuisine primarily attracts hotel guests; it's not a dining destination.
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