Few hotels have the storied past of The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows — Beverly Hills Hotel for short. Legends of commerce, royalty, and Hollywood royalty have called this property home while visiting the LA metro area. The iconic sign, designed by architect Paul Williams, welcomes you to the property, which is located on Sunset Boulevard close to the movie studios and an easy drive to downtown Los Angeles. The property is an oasis of comfort and style in an already comfortable and stylish locale. Twelve acres of lush gardens and flowers mixed in with the famous bungalows, pool, and main building make for a relaxing stay. Drop in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the famous Polo Lounge restaurant or just cocktails in Bar Nineteen 12.
One of the benefits of staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel is that the staff treats you like long-time friends, even on your first stay. We noticed the staff are generally outgoing and helpful. The pool area is a nice respite from a hot day. Perhaps you will run into some aspring actors at the poolside looking for publicity or just working on their tan.
For breakfast one Sunday at the Polo Lounge restaurant, Sylvester Stallone sat at a nearby table along with his teenage daughter and some of her friends. Later, when we took a walk around the hotel grounds, we heard the deep, guttural growl of a car engine. Headed toward the front door anyway, we wondered what this car would look like. As luck would have it, Stallone was picking up his car, this awesome souped-up red Mustang. Monster horsepower and mega bucks best describe the muscle car he was driving. A muscle car for a guy with major muscles, cool.
Interestingly enough, Sylvester stopped and posed for pictures for some hotel guests, so we snapped a few also. Pictures out in the valet area can be taken with no problems. Mr. Stallone actually stayed around for a few minutes and showed off his car. The girls with him seemed to be having as good a time as he was, basking in his fame.
We had a chance to talk a while with Jack, one of the car valets. It turns out that they do not get paid for their work. Compensation is just the tips they receive. The tips at this property, as you can imagine, are so good that a long waiting list exists for these jobs. The tips work out to more than they could receive at most hourly jobs. As a side bonus, they get to meet some interesting people. Nice weather, nice tips, nice people… sounds like a winning combo.
When in town for the American Music Awards, many of the presenters and award recipients also stayed at the hotel. Our room was a corner room overlooking Sunset Boulevard on the 2nd floor. Our room had its own fireplace, adding romance to the stay. The property boasts a large variety of rooms — everything from standard rooms to a Presidential Suite and a Presidential Bungalow. The carpet and wallpaper motif is the famous green and white of the banana leaf print which evokes another era, yet is still a timeless and fresh style for today. No plastic room keys here. The hotel still uses the real deal metal keys, which you can leave at the front desk, if you choose, when you go out. The feel of a metal key in the hand is somewhat comforting in this modern world.
The hotel holds banquets and events, some of which the upscale traveler can join. We enjoyed the New Year’s Eve party. You get the usual party favors, dinner at the Polo Lounge, and music and dancing afterwards. Quite an exciting evening and with your room right down the hall you can stay out as late as you like because you don’t have to drive home. The crowd for the New Year’s Party was old Hollywood, mostly the creative people, writers, directors, etc. An older group who still know how to ring in the new year.
As a Dorchester Collection hotel, owned by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), money is not a problem for the property. For perspective, a few years after their purchase, the BIA shut the hotel down for over 2 years to fully remodel and restore the property to the highest standards. That’s what you call deep pockets. Recently, additional renovations have been done. Brunei is a very small Asian country near Indonesia that has massive oil reserves. To diversify their holdings, the BIA invests in classic and grand hotel properties. As such, the properties are maintained in superb condition and the staff is well-rewarded and maintains excellent standards.
While staying in one of the first floor rooms, we had a sumptuous pancake and fruit breakfast served to us on our own private patio amongst the tropical and exotic flowers. We were able to have breakfast in our robes and, just minutes later, a dip in the famous pool. Casual elegance abounds at the property.
We hoped to get the bungalow that billionaire Howard Hughes used to romance many a Hollywood starlet. Unfortunately bungalow #4 already had another visitor. For decades, the hotel kept bungalow #4 exclusively for Hughes — even when he was out of town. Howard did not like change, so having his own bungalow was a natural. Hughes was a good customer, frequently renting as many as 6 bungalows at a time for lengthy periods. Some of the bungalows also have private plunge pools and pianos.
Elizabeth Taylor stayed here with 6 of her 8 husbands, residing in the Bungalows. It was a homecoming in more ways than one. Elizabeth’s father owned an art gallery in the hotel when she was discovered. What must it have been like to be a youngster, padding around the hallways with Golden Era Hollywood Royalty walking by? Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, and others. Then, when just 11 years old, she began her own interesting, dreamlike existence… first as a starlet and then a major star.
Suite 100 has been designated the Norma Jean suite. Norma Jean was, of course, the original name of Marilyn Monroe. The suite has been remodeled to reflect the 1950’s style. The curved walls and furniture provide the backdrop for artifacts that are showcased in the suite from Marilyn’s estate. For $3,795 per night, you can have an unforgettable experience to share with your friends back home. Even the turndown service is unique when 1950’s songs are turned on for you.
Another fun place to hang out and read the paper is the vintage 1950’s style coffee shop, just downstairs from the lobby. The prices are surprisingly affordable and the ambiance takes one back to another time. Imagine Errol Flynn or Marilyn Monroe sitting down on the stool next to you for a quick bite.
We never rented a cabana. It was more fun lounging right by the pool in chairs under the palm trees. You never know who might walk or swim by. People watching is definitely part of the fun.
You can walk to downtown Beverly Hills for some shopping or take the hotel limo. Walking “the flats”, the neighborhood surrounding the hotel where many of the Hollywood stars have lived, is also a fun adventure. Architecture aficionados can marvel at the beautiful homes and styles as they take in the fresh Pacific air.