From Clueless to The OC, not to mention its eponymous soap opera, 90210 is by far and away America’s most recognisable zip code. Renowned for its many associations with the glitz and glamour of its A-list residents, this small but perfectly formed city in the very heart of Los Angeles hides a wealth of art and design – not to mention historical intrigue – amongst its lush palm tree-lined avenues and perfectly manicured lawns. To spend a weekend in Beverly Hills is to immerse yourself in the Golden State’s most iconic six square miles, packed with cooler-than-cool restaurants, galleries and gardens under its picture-perfect blue skies. Steeped in history and culture, Belle Rice finds there’s far more to this gilded city of stars than first meets the eye.
A Guide To Beverly Hills, Los Angeles
The Waldorf Astoria
Lovers of the ultra-luxe will find no flaws at the Waldorf Astoria, the most recent addition to Beverly Hills’ roster of 5-star hotels. Towering over Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards, this little slice of paradise has a knock-your-socks-off marble lobby filled with light from its floor to ceiling windows and impressive chandelier. Head upstairs to the gloriously spacious rooms and suites and you’ll find all the latest tech – from the iPads that operate your TV and air conditioning to an Alexa on every desk – not to mention the Dyson hairdryer on hand for a super-sleek LA blow dry. With pristine beds so comfortable you’ll want to take one home with you, breakfast in your room is a must – if only so you can take in the views of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Beverly Hills over the sweeping balconies. And if you have a head for heights? This is the prime location to get your bearings. Head up to the rooftop for pre-dinner cocktails at Jean-George’s terraced bar where you can eye up the 360° views stretching for miles, or beat the jet lag with a sunrise swim in the turquoise waters of the cabana-lined pool. For a special occasion, book dinner at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills – the French master chef’s LA outpost is handily located on the ground floor of the hotel.
The Beverly Hilton
And if you’re after luxury for a little less, look just next door to the Beverly Hilton, the historic hotel that plays host to the Golden Globe Awards. Opened by Conrad Hilton himself in 1955, the great and the good of Hollywood old and new have stayed in its suites and walked the red carpet-covered driveway to the stunning International Ballroom. Decked out with smart terraces overlooking the city or the hotel’s Aqua Star swimming pool, each deluxe room is a relaxed home from home, fitted with every creature comfort you can dream of after a day exploring the city. Need a break from running around town? We loved a sun-soaked afternoon with a cocktail by the pool, people-watching under the palm trees.
The Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel
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Any trip to LA would be incomplete without a visit to the illustrious Beverly Hills Hotel – and if you’re not checking in for a lavish stay, you can still treat yourself to a meal at the Polo Lounge. Sip on a classic cocktail (the El Jardin Gimlet is particularly divine, boasting house-made lime syrup) while you gaze at the restaurant’s picture-perfect courtyard (and maybe look out for a celebrity or two). The menu is extensive, but if you’re having lunch, make sure to order the McCarthy salad; it’s been on the menu since the 1950s, when the hotel was frequented by polo players from the surrounding fields, and it’s a vibrant mixture of lettuce, beetroot and avocado alongside chunks of grilled chicken, egg and smoked bacon. If you’re looking for something heartier, however, the steak frites is a brilliant choice, and you’d be forgiven for devoting your entire appetite to dessert, as the famous chocolate souffle is sublime (and enormous). dorchestercollection.com
This elegantly destination restaurant has been on the scene for some time, but it continues to reinvent itself as Wolfgang Puck’s flagship dining room. Guests can choose from the seasonal a la carte menu, or for those with more time on their hands, go for the real deal: the fourteen-course California Tasting Menu. Exquisitely designed, this one-of-a-kind experience represents the best of the west coast’s cuisine. wolfgangpuck.com
Nate ‘n Al’s
For brunch, head to this cosy Manhattan-style deli and diner for eggs and pancakes you’ll definitely be writing home about. Opened in 1945, it’s also the ideal location for a lazy morning of low-key celebrity-spotting. natenal.com
Fresh off the flight and feeling a little woozy? Hit Upgrade Labs, the ultra high-tech gym experience newly opened at the Beverly Hilton. With an array of treatments on the menu from cryotherapy to whole-body infrared beds, this biohacking centre is blazing trails with new ways to enhance physical and cognitive performance. The result? A quick but durable fix for jetlag, whether you experiment with The Big Squeeze full-body treatment or have an energetic PT session to get going again. Book in advance though, as this A-list friendly spa fills up fast.
If you want a breath of fresh air, however, the Virginia Robinson Gardens surround one of the first homes built in Beverly Hills, a landmark estate left to the city by the late Mrs Robinson herself. The last-surviving half of a successful department store-owning couple, she was famed for her legendary parties, and this historic pile played host to a coterie of names including Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich. Virginia Robinson bequeathed the estate to the City of Los Angeles shortly before her death in the late 1970s, and it is now open by appointment to the public. Whilst the house itself is an impressive remnant of the birth of Beverly Hills, it’s the gardens that stagger. This lush six acres of greenery is a carefully curated menagerie of flora and fauna, a tiny piece of paradise that you would never know is waiting for you just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Saks, Bloomingdales and Rodeo Drive. Guided tours by knowledgable local volunteers offer not just glorious views of the rolling hills, but an in-depth history of the house, gardens, and Beverly Hills itself.
Once you’ve extricated yourself from the rich greenery of the gardens, head back into the Golden Triangle (popping into the quietly sophisticated Grill on the Alley for lunch if you can) and immerse yourself in an afternoon of art. Jam-packed with hidden treasures, the galleries of Beverly Hills range from the ever-current Gagosian, with its contemporary installations and roster of emerging artists, to Galerie Michael, which boasts a surprising 12,000 square feet of museum-grade exhibition space and works by Picasso, Rembrandt and other Modern Masters. Finally, Galerie 19C offers a unique perspective on the rich variety of 19th century art, with a wide-ranging collection focusing on lesser known works.
Meanwhile, Beverly Hills is, of course, famed for its retail therapy. With every designer label under the sun, it’s up to Lalaluxe to show you the way. Purveyors of the highly bespoke shopping experience, this in-the-know concierge service offers a sophisticated guided tour of the most exclusive retailers in the area, with behind the scenes access and personal shopping to suit any taste.