Last year, as the hotel celebrated its 100th anniversary, the City of Beverly Hills bestowed it another honor. The Beverly Hills' Cultural Heritage Commission named it the first Historic Landmark of Beverly Hills for its iconic presence. It opened in 1912, which predated any plan to become a city.
A brief history of the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel a.k.a. "The Hotel" to most locals.
After purchasing land, Burton Green, president of Rodeo Land and Water Company, hired Wilbur D. Cook to design a town and Margaret J. Anderson to build a sprawling hotel on a 12-acre parcel. The Mission Revival-style hotel, named after Beverly Farms in Massachusetts, was designed specifically to spark interest in an area billed as "halfway between Los Angeles and the sea."
It didn't take long. By 1914, Beverly Hills had enough residents to incorporate as a city (about 550) and by 1920, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks had built their home on the nearby hills. More stars followed, including Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Will Rogers, Gloria Swanson, and Rudolph Valentino. Together, they later mounted a fight when Los Angeles thought to annex it in 1923.
Within the next eight years, Harold Lloyd, John Barrymore, and Robert Montgomery joined them and Hollywood was entrenched, giving the area its renown for being home to the rich and famous. And other than tough times during the Great Depression, the city has mostly flourished after World War II. At its heart, The Hotel has almost always been the place where local and visiting celebrities play.
Today, other than a two-year renovation hiatus in the 1990s, the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows has thrived as one of the premier hotels in Los Angeles. While much of the allure is world-class service and amenities, the historic charm of 1940s architectural and interior design work of people like Paul R. Williams, Paul Laszio, John Luccareni, and Harriet Shellenberger is forever present.
In addition to giving the hotel its iconic sunset pinks and palm-shaded greens, it was these designers who worked diligently to retain the feel of the original property while creating spaces that felt like home wrapped in a hotel. It still carries an upscale but bright casualness that defines California today.
A few highlights at the the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows.
Located on Sunset Boulevard, just one mile from Downtown Beverly Hills, the hotel still rests within a 12-acre conclave of manicured gardens. And with only 208 guest rooms, which includes 38 suites and 21 bungalows, it is always bustling but never too busy for its guests or visitors.
Some of the classic features of the hotel, most of which were introduced in the 1940s, are as legendary as the Polo Lounge. Named after a band of polo players who toasted victories after winning matches in the nearby bean fields, the Polo Lounge has a country club feel starting with well-appointed breakfasts and carrying on with live entertainment from just after noon to just after midnight.
The outdoor pool is another landmark unto itself, framed by palms and well-planned grounds. Even when it is too cold to swim, the seasonal Cabana Cafe serves coffee, breakfast, cocktails, and lunch through 6 p.m. (and not necessarily in that order). The atmosphere is club casual, a contrast to one of my favorite places on the property — Nineteen12. Named after the year the hotel opened, the chic bar and terrace still carry a high back vibe from yesteryear. Only the drink menu has been updated.
When the Nineteen12 is full or the music misses the vibe, the Fountain Coffee Room makes for a great retreat with its 40s-50s styled sodas, floats, and pastries. What's most important to note is that the signature banana leaf paper is still intact. In fact, the classically curved counter is a restoration of the original, built in 1949. Like the spa and other attractions, everything plays toward the pool.
The rooms are all luxurious, tastefully appointed and decorated in a relaxing array of off-whites, soft beiges, and muted golds. The suites are much the same with stepped-up amenities like spacious living areas and fireplaces. A few steps above all that, either the hotel presidential suite or bungalow suites include a one-up marked luxury. All have modern niceties too, docking stations and plasma televisions.
The Beverly Hills Hotel Still Delights At 9.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
The location is perfect, just a stone's throw away from the Golden Triangle, with Rodeo Drive running through the center and bordered by Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard. The hotel is remarkably close to such diverse attractions as Paley Center for Media, Whisky a Go Go, and Museum of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It's one of the best places to stay off the beach.
The guest rooms aren't always easy to book and the prices might seem steep, beginning at around $650 (unless you happen to catch a special). One example of a special invented by the managing Dorchester Collection, for example, is a one-night stay with spa packages and $200 hotel credit. It's a good value. Parking is still an additional $34 per night, but most people expect it. Start by comparing specials against top travel deals at Expedia.com.