Forget Elosie at The Plaza, or Carrie Bradshaw at Le Plaza Athenee in Paris, France (even though it is also at the top of my list of great hotels and one about which I already wrote in this online journal).
I always feel like a princess at my number one hotel in the world, The Beverly Hills Hotel, or Hotel California, nicknamed by The Eagles as the title of their record album of the same name. I call it The Pink Palace because it feels like a luxurious one.
My older brother used the same color scheme of the hotel, pink and green, for his legendary restaurant Mortons (spelled without the apostrophe after the s) that was on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles. In fact, Indochine,a well known, trendy restaurant in New York City, also used the now iconic palm leaf wallpaper from the hotel for the walls of their restaurant.
A Ramos Fizz in the Fountain Coffee Shop
I grew up just like many other friends of mine in Los Angeles, going to The Fountain Coffee Shop in the hotel. There isn't one person who has eaten there that would negate the fact that this wonderful place is by far the greatest coffee shop in the country.
My co-author William Stadiem and I included The Fountain Coffee Shop in our book "Everybody Eats There" (about the 100 most legendary restaurants in the world) along with the hotel's historic Polo Lounge, the classiest restaurant/bar anywhere in the world (sorry Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy, Hemingway Bar at The Ritz Hotel in Paris, France, and close to home, The Bemelman's Bar at The Carlyle Hotel in New York City! Not that I don't love all of these legendary places, it is just that I judge a restaurant and bar by the ambiance, the quality of the food and drinks and most important, the friendliness of the staff. The Polo Lounge has all of these qualities and some.
Eurario, The Renaissance Man at the grill in the coffee shop
There is nothing better than having breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks in The Polo Lounge with it's comfortable green booths, and small but cozy 50's style round wood tables and chairs. You can almost feel the ghosts of Frank Sinatra and his rat pack while you sip a martini and eat the renowned McCarthy Salad (their version of a cobb salad).
Pepe, the manager-maitre'd of The Polo Lounge has been working there for as long as I can remember. He never forgets a face and there are many to remember from famous to not so famous. All of the waiters, Jerome, Ronnie and the rest of the gang treat everyone like a star no matter who you are. They are warm, gracious and will take care of your every need.
Jerome in the Polo Lounge
Jimmy one of the Polo Lounge's seasoned bartenders
Jimmy, one of The Polo Lounge's well seasoned bartenders who I haven't known quite as long as the rest of the staff, but long enough exits form behind the bar whenever I come in, just to welcome me with a hug. I know that I can be a pain in the A__ to many a bartender and waiter because I am as picky as they come. It is my habit with bartenders, to give them MY recipe for the drinks that I order. Jimmy, has my Mara-rita down pact. It was Jack, the illustrious barman from Mortons who gave my drink that name when I gave him my recipe ages ago.
The Mara-rita in the Polo Lounge
Here is the recipe for all to see and enjoy:
Two and half ounces of Don Julio Reposado or Anejo
One ounce of Cointreau (do not use a substitute or it will not taste the same)
One ounce of lime juice squeezed at the moment you order your drink
If you like it stronger, add more tequila
If you like it sweeter, add more Cointreau and
If you like it sourer add more lime juice
Shake with lots of ice in a martini shaker and pour into a chilled martini glass with or without salt on the rim of the glass, then add a slice of lime for decoration.
Bill and Lucy Ewart with me in The Polo Lounge
An alternative to The Polo Lounge is the newer 1912 Lounge and Bar that attracts a younger clientele and stays open a wee bit later than The Polo Lounge. Like The Polo Lounge, 1912 has music. The Polo Lounge sticks to the classics of the American Song book played by a great piano player. 1912 has either a DJ or a hot band playing danceable music. On one of my recent visits to the 1912, my friends and I danced like crazy to the sounds of a terrific Cuban salsa group. We were all soaking wet from dancing all night.
Ahhhh but The Polo Lounge, it is where I first tasted a Ramos Fizz, made famous in New Orleans but perfected at The Beverly Hills Hotel. I have made either The Polo Lounge or The Fountain Coffee Shop in the hotel my Sunday brunch ritual when I am in Los Angeles. If I am going to the Coffee Shop, I call Miguel on the way to the hotel and pre-order a Ramos Fizz. When I arrive, there it is waiting for me. While I am waiting for Augustin, the grill chef in the coffee shop to make me either their scrumptious eggs benedict, or this silver dollar blueberry pancakes or my ultimate indulgence, the pecan waffle covered in melted real butter and warm maple syrup, I take sips of the delicious orange infused vaguely alcoholic milk shake.
Ronnie in the Polo Lounge
In the coffee shop, the juices are all squeezed freshly upon ordering. The coffee is freshly brewed, strong but perfectly balanced and smooth. There is everything on this menu and if there is something that you have seen on another menu within the hotel, they will get it for you. That goes for every place in the hotel.
While lounging by the pool one afternoon, I satisfied a craving for a real lobster club sandwich. I had seen it on the room service menu, but I made a few changes to it for my order (of course). I asked then to use lightly toasted brioche bread, slather some of their spicy guacamole on the bread, add the smoked bacon and butter lettuce as well as lots of tomato slice along with the large chunks of lobster meat. When I asked Victor, the pool manager if it would be possible to order this at the pool, he answered, "Nothing here is ever impossible or a problem."
Garden Patio in the Polo Lounge
One of hidden booths in the garden at the Polo Lounge
I have actually met and made some interesting friends while sitting at the counter of the Fountain Coffee Shop and for that matter in the Polo Lounge as well. Everyone talks to each other here. This is one of the friendliest hotels I have ever frequented. Who knew that Beverly Hills could be so nice.
Recently, I stayed for a week along with a good girlfriend of mine at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
I have stayed in many five star hotels around the world that you can read about here in this online journal, but I have never encountered such a courteous staff anywhere as I did at The Beverly Hills Hotel.
Renato, the sweetest bellman, your wish is his command
Before arriving, I received a welcome letter from the hotel asking if me or my friend with whom I was going to share the room, had any special requests to give to them. I asked for a Nespresso coffee machine, and electric tea pot to boil water for tea, an extra refrigerator so we could store our many bottles of water, and most important, lots and lots of their plush white towels in all sizes! It was outrageous how many towels they left us everyday, and believe me, we used them. As one of the guest mangers told me, don't feel guilty, you aren't doing the laundry, we are. Although, the water shortage had not really become a detriment at that time.
Our room was spacious with loads of closet space and drawers for two girls who packed lots of clothes and shoes to store their many belongings. The bathroom was beyond beautiful. All in beige marble with huge mirrors and great lighting. (Lighting is always the one thing most architects and decorators forget about when doing hotel bathrooms. For the most part, these architects-designers are men so they don't have the need to wear make-up, well maybe some do in Hollywood.)
Brianna our lovely housekeeper
There was a walk in shower enough for a threesome, and a European style bathtub overlooking the patio with electric curtains one could keep open or closed depending on how shy you might be.
The most outstanding feature of our room was the spacious private patio facing west so the California sunshine shined down on us all day long, and the sunsets were picture perfect.
I had breakfast everyday outside on the patio. Room service was prompt and waiters were all incredibly nice and wouldn't leave until they made sure that I had everything that I needed. (Picky that I am.) My friend preferred to have breakfast in the lovely garden of The Polo Lounge.
Room service arrives!
The Pecan Waffle.
Silver Dollar Blueberry Pancakes
Breakfast on our private patio
You would be surprised who you might find hiding out in the garden booths. I have spotted just about every bold faced name you can conjure from movie stars to high profile politicians.
The Beverly Hills Hotel has been home to many movie stars and scions of finance and industry that chose the hotel for the privacy offered. They most often would stay in one of the hotel's pink bungalows that were another name for small house or cottage offering all the services of a grand hotel. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were known to spend ample time living in one of these bungalows. Another icon, Marilyn Monroe also holed up in the bungalows.
I am from Los Angeles, but staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel is like being on vacation. We were very lucky while we stayed there because the weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold. The sky never had one cloud in the sky.
The swimming pool at night
We spent every afternoon by the swimming pool people watching. If you can afford it, the newly renovated pool offers cabanas to rent. The Beverly Hills Hotel was one of the first hotels to offer private cabanas by the swimming pool. Now, when one travels, you will find cabanas at many hotel swimming pools especially in Las Vegas where they rent by the day for ridiculous sums of money.
If you are not staying at the hotel, you can still enjoy breakfast or lunch in the poolside restaurant while getting an eyeful of very tantalizing scenery.
Victor, one of the managers of the pool
I definitely do not want to leave out that the hotel's concierges are probably the best I have ever encountered aside from the head concierge at Claridges in London, Martin. Martin once said to me that he judges hotels by the abilities fo the concierges who work in the hotel. Abbas, one of the concierges at the BH Hotel, who I have known for a very long time was asked by me what was the most difficult task he was ever asked to complete by a guest. He said it was from a woman who had arrived from overseas without her dress intact for the Academy Awards. Time was of the essence as she needed a replacement as soon as it was possible. Abbas completed this task and frankly many more over the years. Nothing is ever too difficult for these very accomplished and well connected concierges.
Brian, the ultimate in security
From the minute that you pull up the long driveway to the entrance of the hotel, Travis and his crew of adorable parking attendants greet you as if they have known you for years. They make everyone feel like a star. They are welcoming to one and all even if this is your first visit.
Travis, the head of parking
Which brings me to my last words about this hotel. What truly makes this hotel so special are the people that work in the hotel. I have known most of them for a good part of my life, and that is a long time! They have the warmth and true hospitable nature that makes a hotel great, under all circumstances, and this hotel has had it's fair share. Yet, there it stands in all of it's glory, here and forever I sincerely hope.
Vacation or stay-cation, The Beverly Hills Hotel should be a must on anyone's list of fabulous hotels to visit.
I know that there are those of you out there especially in Hollywood, who may be boycotting the hotel because of the politics of the owner, The Sultan of Brunei.
I come from a family of restaurateurs and hoteliers yet none of us or our friends, are boycotting the hotel even though we also do not agree with The Sultan's poliics. We LOVE the BH Hotel, as we call it for short. We would miss it too much if we were to stay away. We care more about the wonderful employees of the hotel than the politics of The Sultan. We have empathy and compassion for those that would lose their jobs if the boycott had really affected the hotel. Frankly, the hotel is always at full capacity with an international list of guests. To be honest, The Sultan of Brunei is so rich that losing a few Hollywood clients and their parties won't set him back a cent. Think about it, and maybe you too will throw caution to the wind and return to support the staff while enjoying all that the Pink Palace has to offer.
I happen to know that some very famous stars from the movie and music business have disregarded the boycott and have been staying at the hotel because of the privacy, security and service the hotel offers to them. I saw these stars when my friend and I were staying at the hotel, in fact, my girlfriend actually worked out in the gym next to one of the Academy Award winning movie stars who was staying as a guest while shooting a movie in Los Angeles.
There are many others who would much prefer to be staying at the Beverly Hills, but fear they will lose their following and clients if they were to break the boycott. I won't name names but I know most definitely who they are and that they miss the hotel very much. They would truly like to see an end to the boycott, I would also like the boycott to end.
Hey, if we didn't frequent or buy from people or places with whom we didn't agree, we would all be staying in our little homes (or big ones), freezing in the winter, starving, not driving or flying anywhere and on and on. Guaranteed some of what you buy, eat or places you frequent, are owned by someone who has a belief system different than yours. Therefore, please don't single out one of most wonderful hotels anywhere, The Beverly Hills Hotel.
The Beverly Hills Hotel
9641 Sunset Blvd
Beverly Hills, California
Tel: 310 276-2251
To see more photos of the hotel and rates which change seasonally
Go to www.thebeverlyhillshotel.com