Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Understated elegance in the (quietly beating) heart of Beverly Hills
If the Peninsula name is not as recognizable as the Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons, that's just because there are only nine Peninsula hotels worldwide, and six of them are in Asia. But make no mistake: Peninsula hotels are up there with the best of 'em, and the Beverly Hills outpost is the jewel in their American crown, espically since their massive room renovation in 2012. Indeed, the Peninsula is considered by many connoisseurs to be the finest hotel in L.A., and nothing leads us to believe otherwise. The above-and-beyond service; the huge, beautiful rooms (renovated in 2012); the fine dining -- it's all superb.
Despite its sedate location in Beverly Hills, the Peninsula aims to feel like a retreat. The hotel has 180 rooms, but seems much smaller. Discretion and personalized service are the operating principles here. A handwritten note from the manager awaits you in your room upon check-in. Each of the hotel's 16 villas has its own private entrance. (Knowing these are the rooms the hotel's celebrity guests opt for, we asked the manager if he would name any of them for me. "I can't," he replied. "That's why they stay here.")
The main theme of all Peninsula hotels -- wellness and peace of mind -- is also pervasive at this branch. The room service menu includes several pages of vegan options. Turndown service comes with a bottle of "NeuroSleep" vitamin water. (You definitely fall asleep within minutes, but that might also be because of the plush pillow-top mattress, 300-thread-count sheets, and absurdly soft pillows.) The gym is among the city's best. And then, of course, there's the relaxed vibe, courtesy of afternoon teas and a 50-50 leisure-to-business-traveler ratio, which is high for an urban hotel.
Mostly, though, the Peninsula is the type of place you go to if you like a bowl of truffled popcorn with your DVD. They offer that, by the way, at no extra cost. At a slight extra cost -- slight is perhaps used loosely hear -- you can have an Emmy-nominated producer and camera crew follow you around for a day and turn the footage into a DVD to take home with you ("special post-production effects not included").
So, is it the best luxury hotel in L.A.? That is the pricey-per-night question. The two other five-pearl properties in Beveral Hills, the Beverly Wilshire and the Beverly Hills Hotel, are similarly luxurious, similarly exceptional, and similarly priced. The main differences are the vibes. The affable Bev Wilshire treats everyone like a star; the B.H.H. is more reserved. The Peninsula is probably somewhere in between. In the end, it's like choosing between a perfectly cooked filet mignon and a buttery Maine lobster: It's just a matter of taste.
Superb; second to none in L.A.
All the cliches spring to mind when it comes to describing the service at the Peninsula: second to none, above and beyond, bending over backwards. ... When you check in, for instance, the front desk staffer asks you not just about your newspaper and checkout arrangements (both of which are asked at Ritz-Carltons and other luxury hotels), but also when you want maid service and evening turndown. Then one of the managers escorts you to your room and gives you a tour before a bellman brings your bags up. On the desk is a handwritten note from the manager personally welcoming guests to the hotel. Upon request, the concierge will print out your boarding pass for you and have it delivered to your room. And how's this for above and beyond? When a room-service dessert includes ice cream, servers wait until guests finish dinner to deliver the dessert to prevent the ice cream from melting. That I've never seen at the Ritz.
Is it the best service in L.A.? Devotees of the uppity Beverly Hills Hotel and the Beverly Wilshire, where everyone is treated like Julia Roberts, would beg to differ (or have someone else beg for them). Call it a three-way tie for first if you must. The Peninsula is certainly second to none.
In Beverly Hills, minutes from Rodeo Drive
The hotel itself feels like a retreat partly because it's located on a rather unattractive four-lane stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard, one of Beverly Hills's main thoroughfares. Salons and beauty parlors dominate the immediate vicinity. You won't find any happening nightlife or cheap dining nearby, but if high-end shopping is one of the main goals of your trip, 90210 -- or 90212, in the case of the Peninsula -- is where you want to be.
A few small complaints:
1) Mediocre water pressure in the shower 2) No coffee machines (How else did they expect guests to wake up after that "NeuroSleep" tonic?), though you can almost certainly get a cup to go from the restaurant at no extra cost. 3) No great views. That's out of the hotel's control, of course, but some rooms at the similarly priced L'Ermitage and Bev Wilshire have price-worthy vistas.
Impressive in both quantity and quality
In addition to the spa (see below), the Peninsula boasts an impressive array of features, from the usual (gym, business center) to the more unique (thrice-daily afternoon teas). The highlight for most will be the rooftop pool and Jacuzzi, complete with full-service cabanas (bring your platinum card if you plan to reserve one) and panoramic views of western L.A.
One of the area's best
Like everything else at the hotel, the spa -- creatively named the Peninsula Spa -- is both phenomenal and phenomenally expensive.
Fine, but not ideal, for kids
Not much at the Peninsula is geared toward kids -- afternoon tea, little Timmy? -- but you can be sure the staff will bend over backwards to make sure the young'uns are happy. The Beverly Wilshire is probably a better bet for kids. For our favorite family hotels throughout L.A., click here.
All pets welcome
The hotel prides itself on its pet-friendliness. Dogs of all breeds and sizes are welcome.
The Peninsula undergoes small renovations and updates throughout the year, and it's extremely well maintained. All guest rooms, suites, and villas were competely renovated in 2012, giving the hotel a fresh new look and brand new furnishings.
An elite restaurant, plus several other on-site eateries
The Peninsula's main restaurant doesn't have a big name behind it the way the Beverly Wilshire's does (Wolfgang Puck's CUT), but it does have an aristocratic one -- it's called the Belvedere -- along with the distinction of being the only restaurant in Southern California to win the AAA Five Diamond Award for 13 consecutive years. You'd be remiss if you didn't eat there at least once during your stay.
One of the best hotels -- if not the best hotel -- in the entire L.A. area, the Peninsula bills itself, accurately, as an "exclusive oasis." You can splurge (huge, gorgeous rooms; afternoon tea; renowned restaurant) or go downright charge-crazy (private villa, luxury spa). Just be sure to bring your platinum card.