Why should I go?
Surrounded on three sides by Los Angeles with West Hollywood nudging up on the fourth, Beverly Hills, Calif., has always been synonymous with luxe living; remember a certain TV show with “90210” in the title? While the days of Brenda and Dylan are long gone, Beverly Hills remains a premier shopping destination, with top-tier restaurants to delight any gourmand and enough 5-star hotels to satisfy the most pampered guest. But remember, this is California, so even in the most upscale establishments, “casual elegant” is the norm. As you drive around, don’t be surprised to see film and TV crews hard at work utilizing the city as a backdrop for their stories. And star spotting requires no special training here. Celebs are everywhere!
Where should I stay?
The Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel, has an unmatched level of service. The hotel has 395 newly renovated rooms, a third of which are suites. Sadly, there is no “Pretty Woman” room; although the exterior of the hotel was featured in the Julia Roberts film, Richard Gere’s suite was actually built on a studio soundstage. Guestroom décor is warm and contemporary, and befitting a property built in the 1920s, there are touches of art deco. But you’ll enjoy all the modern conveniences: Every room has a 42-inch flat-screen TV and the bathrooms are done in Italian marble. Rooms and suites range in size from 400 to 5,000 square feet, with prices from $525 to $7,500 a night.
The Beverly Wilshire is a destination unto itself. Definitely schedule in “Personalized Time” at The Spa at the Beverly Wilshire, where your therapist designs a customized plan that will have you scrubbed, wrapped, massaged and polished! It’s the ultimate spa experience, and you can book from two to five hours. If pool lounging is your style, the one here is a replica of Sophia Loren’s in Italy, and the Pool Bar & Café is the perfect lunch spot. All day, dining is available in The Blvd, which also has one very cool bar. The hotel’s “must” dining experience is Cut, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and heaven for steak-lovers; Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes visit Cut at least once a week. Take your pick: Nebraska Corn Fed Dry Aged, American Wagyu or True Japanese 100% Wagyu Beef, which will run you $160 for an 8-ounce rib eye. Sommelier Dana Farner has put together a wine list of rare depth, with 75 bottles under $75.
What are the must-see sights?
Rodeo Drive, right out of the Beverly Wilshire’s front door, is more famous
than any street on Earth for its high-end shopping. Jewelers Bulgari, Cartier, Harry Winston and Tiffany & Co., and fashion houses Versace, Armani, Christian Dior and Valentino represent just a sampling
of what you will be dazzled by.
The Paley Center for Media is a pop-culture buff’s delight. It stores millions of episodes of TV shows that can be watched at individual viewing stations and has a 150-seat theater reeling out several programs a day on its big screen. The Center also brings in the casts of the best shows on the air today for Q&A sessions with the public. The stars of Ugly Betty and Lost have both participated. (Admission to the Center is free, but tickets to the special events average $15.)
Greystone Park, free to the public, is 18.5 acres of whimsical gardens, tree-shaded lawns perfect for lounging and ponds stocked with Koi and turtles. The centerpiece is the 46,000-square-foot Greystone Mansion, with its 55 livable rooms. In 1928, Ned Doheny Jr. and his wife, Lucy, moved in. Only a year later, Ned and his personal assistant were killed in the house, and it was ruled a murder-suicide. Most now believe Lucy pulled the trigger on both men! A movie based on the crime, There Will Be Blood, which opens in January and stars Daniel Day Lewis, was partly filmed in the mansion; scenes from Spider-Man 3 and The Holiday were also shot there. The property is open to tours by appointment for a fee of $100 for up to 10 people. There’s an indoor bowling alley, a rifle room with shooting balcony, a vault the size of a modern bank’s for liquor and a safe just for the gold flatware. It would cost an estimated $135 million to replicate this incredible mansion today.
Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel; fourseasons.com/beverlywilshire,
310-275-5200 or 800-819-5053
Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau: lovebeverlyhills.org,
310-248-1015 or 800-345-2210
The Paley Center for Media;
Greystone Mansion and Park:
How do I get there?
Beverly Hills is just a 30-minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which is serviced by all major airlines.
Feature by Mary Ann NorbomTravel editor: Jacquelin Neiss