In many ways, Beverly Hills is the most famous small city in the world. Within its 5.7 square miles lie some of the world’s most expensive real estate, an iconic shopping street and more parks, palm trees and pools than destinations many times its size. Less tangible but perhaps most valuable, is its image. The idea of Beverly Hills has been carefully crafted and meticulously maintained since the famous first flocked to the development nestled halfway between downtown Los Angeles and the beach.
That was a century ago.
Since then, neighbors such as Lucille Ball and Jimmy Stewart used to wave to each other on the way to the studio from their homes in the sidewalk-lined “flats.” These days, the well-known live behind massive gates, up steep, winding driveways laden with security devices. But it’s still common to see famous faces out and about in Beverly Hills. The city boasts more than 150 celebrity homes per square mile, according the “A-List Postcodes” list of celebrity neighborhoods compiled by the U.K.-based website UNCLE.
That said, no city, no matter how glamorous, was spared the effects of the pandemic. Beverly Hills paid dearly in the loss of the global visitors who typically swarm around its landmarks. But the iconic hotels of Beverly Hills never lost their luster. In fact, many took the pandemic as an opportunity to reinvigorate, recharge and revamp for domestic visitors. In this first of a three-part series, Luxury Travel Advisor presents the latest on the city’s hospitality legends, dining venues and attractions.
The Beverly Hilton
If there is a mid-century symbol of Beverly Hills, it’s the Beverly Hilton. Though the familiar white façade still reigns over the busy corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, the hotel has undergone a $35 million renovation. Spearheaded by Paul Duesing Partners (responsible for Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort in Los Cabos and Mukul, Auberge Resorts Collection in Nicaragua) the work encompassed all 566 rooms. The hotel’s main Wilshire Tower was entirely redone. In fact, room count was reduced by three in order to create new 890-square-foot Signature Suites, with two bathrooms and living and dining areas. The showstopper is the Presidential Suite on the eighth floor, which offers views of the L.A. skyline.
The hotel’s main lobby was redesigned to include taupes, marble and splashes of teal. Visitors will now find seating nooks tucked around the lobby’s (formerly formidable) huge glass wall. But the lobby’s soothing gold murals commissioned in 2005 remain. Other public spaces and meeting rooms in the hotel have been renovated, as well. The Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom has hosted some of the entertainment industry’s most important awards shows over the decades. With those shows now limited, the hotel ventured into the livestreaming arena, with a New Year’s Eve Justin Bieber concert that was a global smash.
Rooftop dining emerged as the city’s response to the pandemic, and the Beverly Hilton led the way. It launched Sant’olina, offering gorgeous views and a Mediterranean-focused menu. Also new is the grab-and-go, casual Mercato, adjacent to the largest heated pool in Beverly Hills.
The Beverly Hilton’s neighboring property, Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills also embraced rooftop dining. Acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s tasting menus are available at The Rooftop by JG as well as his indoor venue. For clients interested in an extravagant, special occasion celebration, the hotel has joined forces with sister property Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club. The “Waldorf Astoria Coastal Voyage” includes a three-hour cruise on a 40-foot yacht, two nights at each property, along with meals and spa treatments.
The Beverly Hills Hotel's Pool Cabanas
The iconic Beverly Hills Hotel—a member of The Dorchester Collection—abides as the “Pink Palace” on Sunset Boulevard. After maneuvering through the bustling entrance, with valets rushing to deliver gleaming Bentleys and Lamborghinis, visitors will find a (pink) vestige of another era. The hotel’s world-famous Polo Lounge is still the epicenter of power dining in L.A. On any given day, the booths where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio used to dine are filled with famous producers, studio heads, actors and rappers. The McCarthy salad is the most famous item on the menu, and lunch is a must-do experience for visitors. In other news, The Beverly Hills Hotel Spa reopened its doors in February after seven months of extensive refurbishment and redesign. The redesign now allows for private check-in and check-out, as well as a new relaxation room and a duet suite for two guests at a time.
Tip: The other Dorchester Collection gem located off of Sunset Boulevard is Hotel Bel-Air. The property sits amidst 12 acres of lushly landscaped gardens, making it a refuge from the busy rush of traffic surrounding it. In honor of the hotel’s 75th anniversary in late August, a number of activations are currently underway. An Archival Photo Exhibition takes place through August, telling the hotel’s story through 14 photos that have shaped the hotel’s legacy. Visitors and guests can take part in the afternoon Anniversary Tea at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air. Another photography exhibition starting September 1 will feature Bert Stern’s “The Last Sitting with Marilyn Monroe.” It documents a famous photo shoot took place at the hotel in 1962 six weeks before her death.
The Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
Rodeo Drive hits Wilshire Boulevard at what is arguably the most recognizable symbol of Beverly Hills hospitality. The Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel will celebrate its centennial in 2028. But thanks to edgy pop-ups and eye-catching offerings, it remains as cool as it did in the 1970s, when Warren Beatty lived in the penthouse. New at The Beverly Wilshire is THEBlvd restaurant, which joins the Michelin-starred steakhouse CUT by Wolfgang Puck. In addition to the newly reopened, award-winning spa, the hotel is offering free yoga classes on its Rodeo Terrace through September. For clients who wish to relive a classic cinematic connection to the Beverly Wilshire, suggest the “Pretty Woman for a Day” experience. It includes two nights in one of the hotel’s Specialty Suites, a behind-the-scenes tour of Rodeo Drive fashion houses with a personal stylist, a couple’s massage, dinner at THEBlvd restaurant and more. Also new this fall is a "Romance on Rodeo" package, which includes exclusive access to Rodeo Drive and nearby department stores.
Stayed tuned for Part 2 (on more hotel news) and Par 3 (on dining and what to do in the city) in the coming weeks!