Tucked inside one of LA’s swankiest residential districts, just a short ride from Beverly Hills, Sunset Boulevard and Stone Canyon Road, is the pristine Hotel Bel-Air. For travellers desiring to escape the hustle of urban life without falling off the map, this hotel offers a city break amid luscious greenery that makes you feel far away. The hotel is styled as a private residence and surrounded by enchanting gardens, a glistening Swan Lake, bridges and stone fountains—all which lend an ethereal feel to this over half-a-century-old hotel.
Swan Lake at Hotel Bel-Air
Long acting as a hideaway for a string of celebrity guests looking to take time off their public lives, Hotel Bel-Air is imbued with old Hollywood glamour (unsurprising as guests such as Marilyn Monroe have graced the hotel). But it’s not without modern flair, which has been thoughtfully added by interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud and Rockwell Group.
Champalimaud essentially restored the original vintage charm of the building that now features 103 rooms and suites – presenting a refreshing mix of traditional and modern design. Touches of Spanish colonial architecture are evident in the pink stucco façade of the building, while there’s serenity in the grandeur of Bel-Air rooms that boast calming, earthy tones such as ivory and green with dashes of black upholstery and furniture. A welcoming sense of home is clearly a priority.
The specialty suites are all individually designed, one interestingly named after Grace Kelly. The Presidential suite includes private dining for 10, a chef’s kitchen, a private pool and a private Spanish courtyard, among other offerings. The deluxe room’s glass panel doors lead the way to an outdoor patio offering wondrous views of the exterior landscape.
Hotel Bel-Air Grace Kelly Suite Living Room
Everything at the Hotel Bel-Air is connected with the verdant outdoor setting. While the lobby is designed in muted tones – in line with the hotel’s simple, elegant aesthetic, walk past its arched windows and catch serene views of the lush, green gardens. The bar and lounge areas are also interconnected with the garden. Their wood panelling and rustic black and brown interior are at once decadent and classy. Black-and-white pictures of celebrities photographed by Norman Seeff decorate the walls and accentuate the sleek design.
Norman Seeff photography in the Hotel Bel-Air bar and lounge
Indoor and outdoor areas at Hotel Bel-Air seamlessly blend. A large part of the hotel’s restoration, which was completed in 2011 after two years of renovation, was about drawing a clearer link between the restaurants and gardens throughout the property. Among the spaces added as part of the restoration process are a reception, boutique and lobby lounge, along with 12 hillside accommodations, and the Spa by La Prairie. Be sure to take a dip in the hotel’s legendary oval-shaped pool.
Hotel Bel-Air lobby
Culinary connoisseurs will relish in an al-fresco dining scene headed up by master chef Wolfgang Puck who oversees the hotel’s entire culinary operation. This includes the Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, the Bar and Lounge, in-room dining, as well as functions and events. For a serene meal, take one of chef Puck’s gourmet picnic baskets outdoors and relish in stunning views of Swan Lake.
Or, for something heartening and more American-style, the hotel’s popular garden barbeque dinner party series kicked off this year on 18 June with Texas-style barbeque followed by a taste of Kansas City dinner earlier this month. The series will be rounded off with an end-of-summer dinner celebration on 13 September.
Eggs Benedict at Wolfgang Puck, Hotel Bel-Air
A dreamy retreat destination for Los Angelenos and tourists alike, the Hotel Bel-Air is distinctive for its old Hollywood glamour. Paying tribute to a Golden Age in American cinema, what we love is the hotel’s refreshed elegance and continuous charm – that make you feel like a celebrity as soon as you venture through its doors.
Suites start from $795 and standard rooms from $565 at Hotel Bel-Air. Dorchestercollection.com