by Jenny Southan, The Telegraph, February 23, 2018
"Welcome to the Veranda suite," says Elisa from the front desk of LA’s Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire hotel as she opens the door to room 1001 on the 10th floor. "Elvis Presley used to stay here."
Presley may have been a regular guest, but he’d be hard pressed to recognise the suite today. The latest in a long line of modernisations and innovations is its rooftop yurt, allowing open-air-loving Angelenos to enjoy an “urban glamping” experience right in the centre of the city.
Since September it’s been possible to enjoy a night under the stars on the 200 sq m terrace, alongside all of the comforts of the suite itself, with its immaculate interiors, marble bathroom and Bulgari amenities.
It’s November when my partner and I arrive and despite this time of year typically being warm and sunny, by late afternoon a stiff breeze has picked up and the canvas of the tent is flapping wildly. Inside, a crystal chandelier swings above an inviting queen-sized bed.
A glass of Ruinart in hand, we explore the interior of the yurt, which is surprisingly roomy and furnished in soft furs, hides and woolly floor cushions. We zip up the tent to block out the wind and settle in, but it's still a little draughty.
At sunset, we step outside to take photos, and I make use of the conveniences offered by the suite. Though the tent has electricity there are no accessible power sockets, so I charge my phone in the Veranda’s main bedroom.
The hotel’s staff are on hand to take care of the more menial details too, appearing in the evening to turn on the gas heaters on the terrace and taking charge of preparing our al fresco dinner while we lounge on the comfy couches set by a glass-walled fire pit.
This is where Four Seasons most evidently adds the glamour to guests’ glamping experience. At 7pm we get a "knock" on the canvas to inform us that it is time to dine, and to our surprise the meal is prepared at a temporary cooking station in front of us by the Beverly Wilshire’s executive chef Samir Roonwal.
Attended to by our own waiter (who serves our paired wines), we dine on a delicious vegetarian menu that features a salad of arugula, figs and blood orange, alongside crispy tofu with cucumber, cashews and roasted quinoa.
Our vegan dietary requirements mean we have to forgo that most American of campside desserts – campfire s’mores, here made with Tahitian vanilla bean marshmallow and smoked Valrhona chocolate sandwiches – in favour of fruit skewers, which are less exciting but come glammed up with a coating of gold leaf.
During hot summer nights it must be a pleasure to sit out at the long table on the terrace and make your way through a leisurely meal. But in the chill night air we need to wrap up in throws to keep the cold at bay – that’s the fun of glamping, we tell ourselves.
Retreating again to our yurt, we finish off the champagne huddled under a blanket and find the encroaching chill is testing our resolve. Mere metres away there’s a warm, soft-carpeted suite at our disposal – it’s icy cold in the yurt now and we lament the lack of a hot water bottle (the hotel is apparently going to install an electric blanket).
Shivering and deliberating for an hour, we decide to persevere. Though it’s late at night, LA’s city lights mean the canvas walls glow orange but I eventually slip off into a light sleep, aware of the constant hum of traffic, sirens and, finally, rubbish trucks at 4am.
Waking at sunrise, the yurt now bright but still frosty (as I exhale, my breath hangs in the air), I put the Four Seasons app to the test and order hot drinks, fruit and a basket of pastries from my iPhone. And it would have all arrived at our camp had it not been for us double locking the door to the suite. I only figure this out when I receive a message on my phone alerting me to the issue.
That problem rectified and with our breakfast to hand, we wrap up in robes and slippers and step outside to our Astroturf lawn to another beautiful Los Angeles morning. We sip our coffee as the city beneath us slowly comes to life.
The Urban Glamping Experience at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel (+1 310 275 5200) costs from £2,850 per couple. The tasting menu costs from $325 (£230) per person.