The first time I came to the iconic – you’re going to hear that word a lot here, by the way – the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, it was to interview Paris Hilton at what is known as ‘the number one power lunch spot’ in all Los Angeles, the Polo Lounge. She ordered her food, stirred it, left it and skipped leaving me with the bill. Oh and there was that time I was practically kidnapped by one of Whoopi Goldberg’s press people and brought here for tea.
But then that is what the most famous hotel in America is famous for, superstar moments. And it’s most definitely having a moment right now even for a hotel that has had nothing but moments since it opened back in 1912 before even Beverly Hills the town was invented. Today, without even trying, it couldn’t be more on trend…
As we drive up the secluded approach on Sunset Boulevard just off one of those avenues of sky-high palm trees Beverly Hills is famous for, a couple of teenage girls are sneaking in to steal selfies by the iconic (there’s that word again!) Beverly Hills Hotel sign, in bang-on-trend bottle green. Even the font is fantastic. And if the Mediterranean Revival building swamped in palms looks familiar, you might know it from the cover of The Eagles’ Hotel California. Yeah, that’s it.
Just look at the style of the place. Pink, the sort of millennial pink that has been the hottest of hot colours for the last few years, is their signature, making everything from the key cards to the soaps highly covetable. And then there’s the trademark banana leaf wallpaper, in place since the 1930s, that is currently being copied the world over. You can even buy shirts with it on.
And milling around the low-key lobby – beautiful flowers, edgy art, boutique vitrines from the likes of Asprey of London – is not quite the crowd you’d expect from a hotel that has been operating for more than 100 years. No elderly dowagers or fading movie execs here but what looks like they might be a hip-hop band, a gay couple messing with each other’s hair in the mirror, successful people treating each other to celebrations in the iconic – sorry, legendary – Polo Lounge, very rich people behind very big sunglasses, a young family.
This in a place that has been home for everyone from Princess Margaret, Princess Grace, Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, John and Yoko. Rex Harrison used to sunbathe naked in Bungalow 1 and would answer the door with just a handkerchief to hide his modesty, while the famous picture of Faye Dunaway nursing her Oscar by a pool surrounded by newspaper cuttings was shot right here. Marilyn Monroe was such a regular (she had her affair with Yves Montand here, apparently) they’ve named her favourite bungalow, No. 7, after her. From $9,000 a night you can take the beautiful spot, peppered with pictures of Monroe, and treat yourself to something from their Chanel No. 5 menu of bath products.
Another regular who is being honored with her own bungalow is actress, screen legend and AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor. We’re not sure Bungalow No. 5 is going to make the $17,000 a night they charge for the Presidential Suite with its private pool and a safe big enough to sleep in, but you know it’s going to be gorgeous.
So, what is it like to actually stay in such an icon? In a word, delicious. The regular rooms are spacious, classy (well, what did you expect?) and classic in a palette of beige and dusty pink and white. But definitely not out of date: there’s the latest word in Bang & Olufsen televisions and a bedside panel to control all the lighting.
Meanwhile, out by the pool, that Faye Dunaway pool, it’s all low-key loveliness in bottle green and white stripes and little cabanas complete with TV, just in case the Eurovision Song Contest is on. And that Polo Lounge? Eat outside if you like, out with the concrete sunshades in the little terrace area (‘Isn’t that him off… Oh, yes it is!’) but for our money, it’s all about one of those booths inside so you can hear the plinky-plonk piano while you order up another Sauvignon. As for breakfast, all the smart money is on doing it up at the counter in the funny little downstairs bar/diner thing, where things seem to get a little rowdy even over grilled grapefruit.
Oh and in case you’re wondering, you lounging in that big pink marble bath should perhaps be your Instagram shot. Yes, with a martini glass, perched on the edge just so.