Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
The lowdown The website claims “A Legend Reborn” and honestly it would be churlish to argue. Even the name, Bel-Air, rolls off the tongue like pink champagne. The great and good of Hollywood’s golden era have all partied and played at the Bel-Air, it is as much a part of the city’s mystique as the Oscars. The iconic Los Angeles landmark re-opened last year after a two-year grooming session and while regulars were horrified at the thought of their fave hotel being “refurbed”, honestly it couldn’t have been done with more charm. Spread over 12 acres, the historical famously pretty-in-pink hotel is a modern yet light-hearted mash-up of 1930s, 40s and 50s. I arrived off a late flight from London and walking through a cluster of fairy lights in the dark through to the lobby was one of the sweetest arrivals I’ve ever had.
The room Really, that should be “rooms”! The guests may not quite all be Oscar winners but nobody slums it at the Bel-Air. I had a rambling eight-room suite (I kid you not – and that doesn’t include the terrace) in a palette of restfully elegant greys. When I wasn’t wandering through the aforementioned rooms looking for things I had laid down, I was basking in the knowledge that nothing bad can happen when you are surrounded in such utterly gorgeous luxury. Obviously all the A-list stuff was there: bowls of jelly babies, gigantic Bang + Olufsen high definition flat screens, in-room Ipads, touch phones (fab), incredibly clever lighting systems (not so fab, I twice almost wept with frustration at not managing to turn up the lights). But who cares when you could play your own Sunset Boulevard moment in your 10-foot dressing room?
The spa I could say the words La Prairie and leave it at that. The spa, run by the luxury Swiss skincare brand, is as spectacularly indulgent as you would expect. There are seven treatment rooms, bespoke de-aging facials for men and women (and isn’t that just want you want a facial to do?) and the kind of sublime service that makes the Bel-Air on the whole a very difficult place to leave.
What to do Go out and enjoy LA of course. The farmer’s market, the Getty Centre, Rodeo Drive, Universal Studios, a hike through the canyons. Take your pick.
And your pets are welcome This being Hollywood, woe betide a hotel that doesn’t welcome a pampered pooch. You do have to pay $200 upfront for accidental cleaning (fair enough), but your beloved dog will receive dog bed, water bowl, “personalised peanut biscuits” (no, I don’t know what that means either), a doggie necktie and a surprise gift. Fabulous.
Dining The Wolfgang Puck at the Bel-Air restaurant ensures that your dining won’t be shabby. The main dining room has retractable walls to allow you to enjoy the LA climate, while a private dining room sits snugly in a cellar of 2,400 bottles. Both flaunt huge marble fireplaces. And then there is the ultra relaxed Spanish-style terrace itself – why sit inside when in Hollywood? The food is a delicious mix of European and Med influences with produce culled from local markets and sustainable fishing routes. As for the famous members’ bar. It is astonishingly glam without being overbearing. Herringbone floors and antique mirrors create an ambiance straight out of an old 40s film set.
The details Hotel Bel-Air, 701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles, California 90077. Room rate from $565 per night. Visit www.hotelbelair.com
Canon view suite patio at the Hotel Bel-Air
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