The Beverly Hills Hotel is something of a maverick.
It seems strange to say that about a hotel that’s 110 years old this year, but there are few other hotels in the Los Angeles basin—or the world—that match the famous pink palace for being as integral to its place of residence.
While many resort hotels are built in already-thriving communities, The Beverly Hills Hotel was the progenitor of Beverly Hills itself. Built in 1912 before the city was incorporated “halfway between Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean,” the hotel in its earliest days once housed the post office and school house for the nascent community. It also became a popular gathering place for the stars and producers of the burgeoning Hollywood community, and many silent screen stars bought land parcels and built homes in Beverly Hills during the following decade.
The hotel’s famous bungalows were first constructed in 1915, offering residential-style accommodations for stars who wanted seclusion and privacy (for a variety of Hollywood-typical reasons), while the pool first opened in 1938, at a time when swimming pools were extraordinary amenities, even for hotels in sunny California. The Sand and Pool Club had imported white beach sand, which was eventually replaced with a concrete pool deck for ease of cleaning.
The hotel’s interesting mix of the original Mediterranean Revival style blends spectacularly well with the mid-century update by noted Black architect Paul R. Williams, who introduced the hotel’s signature pink and green colors, added the Crescent wing, and created the now-famous logo script that adorns the side of the wing.
In its modern incarnation, guests at The Beverly Hills Hotel can find just the right place to let their Hollywood history imaginations run wild. The front entrance, which has kept it’s Williams design over the decades, is peak mid-century. While it’s easy to imagine the hotel’s earlier years creeping amongst the bungalows, which are built in the rather closed, window-less style of the era. It was among the tree branches arcing near these same bungalows where Howard Hughes once asked the hotel chef to hide sandwiches so he could pluck them down and snack without missing a step.
In The Fountain coffee shop, one might channel Mitzi Gaynor having a milkshake or a cup o’ joe in full resplendence, with the pink-and-green banana leaf motif serving as the perfect period backdrop. Poolside, one might meditate on the famous 1977 photo of Faye Dunaway with her Oscar, appearing reflective by the pool with dowdy 1970s room service trays askance, surrounded by newspapers blaring headlines of Peter Finch’s posthumous Best Actor Oscar award.
Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite Bungalow Five has been named after her, and a portrait of the actress during filming of Cleopatra stares down upon guests from the entrance foyer. Taylor spent six of her eight honeymoons in the hotel’s bungalows (she skipped the hotel during both honeymoons with Richard Burton), and was also a frequent guest of the hotel’s now-sister property The Dorchester in London (The Beverly Hills Hotel is part of the larger luxury group The Dorchester Collection, which notes the London hotel as its namesake).
Near the bungalows is the storied Polo Lounge—allegedly named so that area wives wouldn’t know their husbands had stopped off for a drink on the way home from the polo grounds. Whether guests choose to dine indoors or outdoors, the alternating coziness and secluded vantage point of some of the booths feels like transport to another era—one where careers were made or broken at these same tables. Classic dishes from yesteryear here include Steak Tartare, Tortilla Soup, and the McCarthy Salad—the hotel’s take on the Cobb.
Another lovely—if underappreciated—vantage point is Bar 1912. If The Polo Lounge is intimate and secluded, Bar 1912 is the outward-facing antidote, with views over the tops of the property’s heritage palms looking down the L.A. Basin—a prime spot for languid sunset cocktails and light bites (the A5 Wagu Tataki comes with a heavenly truffle citrus emulsion), and the cheese cart is an event showpiece to cap off a light meal or get cocktail hour started in high style.
A hotel manager shared during a property tour that a number of Hollywood A-Listers still frequent the hotel on their own as patrons—generally those who live in the neighborhood and often drop in for a meal at The Polo Lounge or have one of their cars parked in the hotel’s garage, which rents space to local residents.
Other guests seemed to be fans of the hotel itself. Many seemed to take keen interest in the historical displays on the concourse level, and the hotel’s gift shop did a brisk trade in logo items.
My deluxe guest room was in the historic building and was plush, in a rather classic styling—no cutting-edge contemporary design here—that is entirely the draw. Guests here are looking for that throwback, that hint of legacy in their stay. Gracious, polished, eager-to-please staff are the icing on the cake.
Remarkably relevant and fresh, even at 110 years of age, this old lady of Beverly Hills is a one-of-a-kind gem. They truly don’t make them this way anymore.
Superior Rooms start at $1,225 per night.
Picture-perfect plates in The Polo Lounge just begged to be photographed.
Like many top-end luxury properties, The Beverly Hills Hotel does not rely on a loyalty program to generate repeat business.
Good To Know
The Polo Lounge offers online reservations that often show tables booked up to several weeks in advance, but hotel staff can secure last-minute reservations for in-house guests with little difficulty.
Because the hotel’s high-profile guests value their privacy, photography and taking video on the pool deck is strictly prohibited.
There is no self-parking but valet is available.
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