A team of Oyster reporters spent weeks exploring 59 top hotels in and around Los Angeles. We slept in the beds, lounged by the pools, ate in the restaurants, and even sampled the nightlife, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. Here’s a list of our favorite luxury hotels.
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." The above-and-beyond service; the huge, beautiful rooms; the fine dining; the luxury spa -- it's all superb.
Remember where Richard Gere and Julia Roberts stayed in Pretty Woman? This is the place. At the glittery corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, the iconic 395-room Italian Renaissance-style tower hotel underwent a renovation in 2006 and 2007 that added a spa and a Wolfgang Puck steakhouse, CUT, designed by Richard Meier. Rooms are classically luxurious, with Italian marble bathrooms and 400-thread-count sheets. The hotel's best asset, though, might be its utter lack of stuffiness: Everybody gets treated like a friend here, not only the celebs and royalty. Just like in the movie.
From the signature banana-leaf wallpaper to the elegant cabana-lined pool to the formal service, the perfectly preserved "pink palace" is a throwback to an earlier, more glamorous era. Built in 1912, the 204-room hotel is as old as Beverly Hills itself — but will look like new when major renovations are completed over the next three years. tag:revisit 7/1/2013 This serene, lush 12-acre haven, now owned by the Sultan of Brunei, is only five minutes from Rodeo Drive, and its legendary restaurant, The Polo Lounge, is a popular spot for Hollywood execs and celebs who wish to dine away from prying eyes.
The appropriately named L'Ermitage has long been considered a calming, luxurious, and extremely private respite for the famous and well-to-do. (Particularly for the famous after some infamous plastic surgery -- Michael Jackson and Liz Taylor both recovered here.) It's not hard to see what draws them here: The hotel is secluded in a residential part of Beverly Hills, its 119 rooms are huge (650 square feet is standard), and the 24-hour rooftop pool has 360-degree views. Extraordinary services like a flexible checkout-time policy and a free chauffeured Mercedes Benz don't hurt, either.
One of Southern California's only self-contained luxury mega-resorts, the 100-acre, 582-room Terranea offers a range of features that's unrivaled among hotels in the area, including a top-tier spa, nine holes of golf, five restaurants, three pools, and gorgeous, manicured grounds. Terranea also has the rarest of L.A. amenities: fresh air. The 100-acre property is set against a stunning backdrop of tan coastal bluffs in Rancho Palos Verdes. Plus, it opened in June 2009, so everything is brand-new. Bring the kids here, but don't expect easy access to the city's main sights; the idea at Terranea is that you stay at Terranea.
The London is the best luxury value in L.A., with sprawling 750-square-foot rooms, a gorgeous rooftop pool with panoramic views, and a restaurant from star chef Gordon Ramsey -- all for a relatively reasonable nightly rate. Renowned British designer David Collins planned the interiors, so the 200 rooms are not only the city's largest, but also some of its most luxurious, with Italian Fili D'oro linens, private balconies, wet bars, and views of Los Angeles or the Hollywood Hills. First-class service is unpretentious, and the concierge desk is unmatched in its resourcefulness -- the staff can accommodate requests for exotic car rentals, difficult restaurant reservations, helicopter tours, tickets to sold-out shows... you name it.
Simply put, Casa del Mar has the best hotel beachfront in Los Angeles. Opened in 1926 as "the grandest beach club of them all," this Santa Monica property fell on hard times and spent three decades as a rehab center. After a $50 million makeover in 1999, though, it reopened as an opulent 129-room luxury hotel, a mix of Mediterranean and California Mission styles with discreet service and ultramodern but homey rooms. Casa exploits its prime beach views with 20-foot-high windows in the 2nd-floor Veranda dining room and lounge bar -- a favorite spot for filmmakers, ad execs, and other creative types. The rooftop pool and Jacuzzi also face the sea and the Santa Monica Pier, as do about half of the rooms.
A popular celebrity hangout, Shutters on the Beach mixes formal opulence with airy blue-and-white rooms and a gray-shingled exterior with white-wood trimmings for an overall effect that's something like a billionaire's dream cottage in the Hamptons -- a cottage with 198 rooms, that is. Doting service, a well-regarded spa, interiors by the renowned designer Michael Smith (who also decorated the Obama White House), and a beachfront Santa Monica location make this a rare package. Only Casa del Mar can compete.
This may be the least conspicuous high-end hotel in town. Thanks to its convenient location, secluded bungalows, and head-high hedges that shield it from the street, Santa Monica's Fairmont Miramar has long been a coastal retreat for Los Angeles' entertainment-industry heavyweights. Inside the gates, the lobby's polished marble floors and the manicured grounds evoke the 19-century mansion that once stood here (and was the hotel's original building). The 302 rooms range from 250-square-foot standards to grande suites (renovated in 2011) to two-story beach bungalows.