Most standard rooms (historic guest rooms) are smaller and simpler
Restaurants are very pricey and feel stuffy to some
On 12 acres of lush grounds, this historic hotel is a serene, luxurious escape five minutes from Rodeo Drive. Its formal service and aura lend it a stuffier feel than the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire, but it also has anachronistic charms, like an old-fashioned soda fountain, plus a great pool and (pricey) restaurants. The historic rooms, which are the most standard, are smaller and not as luxe, but all other rooms are spacious with fresh decor, amenities such as massive flat-screen TVs, and marble bathrooms with separate showers and tubs.
"Don't look now," whispered a guest at the poolside Cabana Club Cafe, "but wasn't that guy behind me on Celebrity Rehab last year? I think he's Rod Stewart's son." Across the pool deck, a mature woman removed her oversized sunglasses to reveal a taut, puffy face suggestive of recent plastic surgery, while the lady at the table next to her explained in a haughty tone that she'd been "coming here for years."
Welcome to the Beverly Hills Hotel, or the "pink palace" as the 12-acre, Mission-revival property is known. First built in 1912, the iconic hotel is as old as Beverly Hills itself. Actually, it's older. The area didn't become a full-fledged city with celebrity residents like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton until a few years later. Over the years, the hotel has housed numerous celebrities from John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Elizabeth Taylor and six of her eight husbands. From 1992 to 1995, the hotel closed for extensive renovations that cost the Sultan of Brunei, the hotel's current owner and one of the world's richest men, more than $100 million and it underwent major renovations yet again in 2014. The resulting hotel isn't a bright, modern one, like the Beverly Hilton, but rather a place that feels perfectly preserved and restored to its original elegance, from the signature banana leaf wallpaper that lines the halls to the stunning pool area. Not just pink, but also green, dominates the hotel. At turndown (guests get to specify the time -- a nice service touch), housekeeping leaves an order form on the bed should guests wish to purchase a surfboard or tricycle with the hotel's insignia or signature color scheme. It's a bit of an odd, overly commercial touch at such a classy place.
For the most part, the Beverly Hills Hotel is discreet, complete with heavy security. It's more of place for the well-known not to be seen than a celebrity hot spot like the Hollywood Roosevelt or Chateau Marmont. At the Polo Lounge, you might see Hollywood execs closing big deals, or see Paris Hilton -- but she'll likely be grabbing lunch, not stumbling out of the bar late at night. The hotel is dignified at times to the point of stuffiness; service is nothing if not formal. It's for those who want a serene scene in a classic icon. If you're looking for more relaxed service, you'd probably do better at the equally accommodating, livelier Four Seaons Beverly Wilshire.
Service is serious business at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Guests are asked at check-in what time they prefer turndown, as well as their newspaper preference. Housekeepers wear French maid uniforms and all concierge are members of Les Clefs d'Or, the prestigious international concierge organization.
Still, it's not without the occasional snag. Lunchtime crowds at the Polo Lounge can make for slow service as well as a short wait at the parking valet as attendants deal with a backlog of Bentleys. And, service can be a bit formal and lacking in warmth. While at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire every guest is made to feel like royalty, there's a feeling here that royalty is treated like royalty and average guests are treated like average guests. Nice service perks include 24-hour room service, free fruit, and free transportation within a five-mile radius.
The hotel is situated in Beverly Hills, an enclave of wealthy living and luxury shopping in the middle of L.A.'s westside. While it has a Sunset Boulevard address, its portion of Sunset feels a long way from the notorious "Sunset Strip" -- the mile-and-a-half stretch of Sunset Boulevard known for its cutting-edge rock clubs and night spots and its collection of premier boutiques and restaurants. This portion of Sunset is quieter, more scenic and residential, and the hotel is actually tucked back from the street giving it a secluded, mini-resort feel. It's a far different feel from staying at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire, which sits in the middle of the Beverly Hills' shopping and dining district, a little over a mile away.
Rodeo Drive and the surrounding shopping blocks, with designer boutiques, major department stores, and lots of dining, is a five-minute drive away
There's next to no nightlife in Beverly Hills; the Sunset Strip, with its bars and clubs, is 1.7 miles (an eight- to 10-minute drive) away.
Santa Monica Beach is a 20- to 30-minute drive.
Less than five miles, or about a 15-minute drive, to touristy Hollywood Boulevard and the celebrity footprints of the famous Walk of Fame at Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Universal Studios Hollywood, a movie-themed amusement park, is about 10 miles and a 25-minute drive.
While the most standard rooms, dubbed Historic Guestrooms, are smaller and more dated (or "historic," if you're being nice) with shower/tub combos, all other rooms at this luxe property are spacious and elegant after renovations in 2014. Decor is fresh, but not so modern that it takes away from the refined, historic vibe of the hotel; picture a color palette of greens, reds, pinks, and yellows mixed with dark wood furniture. Rooms have plush bedding, work desks, massive flat-screen TVs, safes, free fruit, and minibars stocked with gourmet treats. All rooms come with marble bathrooms and all but those in historic rooms have separate showers and soaking tubs. 24-hour room service is also available.
A beautiful pool with luxe cabanas and a small, but modern, fitness center
The main feature here is the tranquil pool, surrounded by high walls in the hotel's signature pink. Most lounge chairs are also, not surprisingly, pink, and a good number of luxe cabanas -- outfitted with flat-screen TVs and seating areas -- are available for rent. There's also a small, but elegant, spa on-site and the fitness center isn't particularly large either, but features enough modern cardio machines that there's never a wait for a workout.
Guests can check e-mail in the small business center, or hold a meeting in the boardroom, and there's a small shop selling high-priced gifts, snacks, and books.
With a beautiful pool and lush grounds, an old-fashioned soda fountain (where tots under 12 can get free soda), and large rooms, this is a top luxury pick for families. Kids receive milk and cookies upon arrival, and all on-site restaurants offer children's menus. Babysitting services can be arranged through the concierge.
With three unique restaurants, the hotel has great on-site dining options, but there's little within easy walking distance of the hotel, unlike the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire, which is located in a more commercial, less residential, portion of Beverly Hills. Still, that commercial area is just a five-minute drive away, and nearly everywhere in Beverly Hills has valet parking.
The main restaurant, The Polo Lounge, is a classy hot spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Paris Hilton and the cast of Real Housewives have been known to drop in for lunch, and it was popular among Rat Pack members like Frank Sinatra back in the day. Sinner entrees range in price but overall all options are relatively expensive.
The Cabana Club Cafe serves pricey poolside fare; cocktails are in the mid-teens. Sandwiches, like gourmet versions of cheese steaks, are pretty pricey.
The Fountain Coffee Room, a charming, old-fashioned soda fountain, is open daily; service is at the counter only, and waitresses wear pink dresses with white Peter-Pan collars.
Stylish Bar Nineteen 12, named after the hotel's opening year, serves staple cocktails, intriguing edible cocktails like chocolate jelly shots and martini popsicles, and small-plate fare in an elegant interior or on the large outdoor patio.
24-hour room service includes Polo Lounge's favorites, like open flame rotisserie chicken and tortilla soup, as well as afternoon tea service.
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