A lusciously designed private oasis in the heart of the westside of Los Angeles is Hotel Bel-Air. The area is known from the famed 90’s TV series, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (though that house sits in Brentwood), and the hotel in all its old Hollywood style is set on twelve acres in the rich Bel-air Estates neighborhood, built in the city’s famed canyons. Opened in 1946, the Spanish Colonial style makes one feel as if they are a part of the Hollywood’s hey-day where the likes of Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor, Carey Grant, Grace Kelly, and Marilyn Monroe graced the hotel. The latter had a Vogue photo shoot a few weeks before passing.
The most mesmerizing thing about Hotel Bel-Air is that through the years, renovations, additions, and style updates, the hotel has been able to hold onto its signature pink exterior, while also keeping its 1940s charm.
As you drive up valet parking attendants usher you out and seconds later you’re crossing the bridge that guides you onto the hotel property. The first thing that’s noticeable on site is the well-manicured landscaping and the tropical trees. For a moment you may feel as if you have been transported to Singapore or Costa Rica. The pale pink buildings with cursive font of the hotel’s name on the outside is just as inviting as the inside of the hotel. It’s at this moment that you know you’re about to enter somewhere luxurious and on another level.
Lemon, Jasmine, Oak, and a myriad of other trees are a part of the foliage of the hotel, making it a very private and recluse one, compared to other LA based hotels. No wonder other movie greats from Tom Cruise and Al Pacino have all found comfort in the hotel. It really is a never-ending plethora of jungle, a landscaping fiends paradise. There’s also something about the hotel that gives the feeling of being on a tropical island. For this hotel, the outside layout of trees, flowers, and plants are just as important as the interior style. So, do stop and take it in.
I’m inclined to start with the fun parts first, but every part of the well-designed hotel is fun. The circular shaped pool, also surrounded by southern California’s skinny palm trees is a paradise in-and-of itself. Lawn chairs surround the pool’s circular shape and it’s a place that you can easily get caught up in for most of a day.
The lobby is a large and an open space with a square-shaped fireplace that sits on a big limestone rock in the center that has its own unique covering. Alexandra Champalimaud, the interior designer of the 103 rooms and suites, spa, lobby, and other public spaces did the facelift with her 50-person team. Champalimaud also did the interior design of Hotel Bel-Air’s sister hotel, The Beverly Hills Hotel. Bringing in modern furniture to a classic space of upholstered sofas and one-seater cow hide Soane Britain chairs, and Jean de Merry lighting gives the room a romantic feel in the evening, especially with the fireplace blazing.
All rooms come with limestone flooring, as well as with signature bathrobes and slippers. But each guestroom and suite have its own distinct personality, imagined by Champalimaud and her design team. An iPad also comes with every room where guests can order in-room services like room service, as well as free wi-fi.
Superior rooms are more affordable and still carry Hotel Bel-Air excellence, and the old Hollywood essence. With neutral colored walls, and a color palette of cream, white, and black, it sets guests in a positive mood. The floors are limestone while the ceiling has hardwood flooring. The style is a nod to Champalimaud’s design aesthetic. With 430 square feet, a king bed, and ensuite spa marble bath with a built in TV to the mirror, and luxury fili d’Oro Egyptian cotton bed sheets, and garden views, it really is an ideal room for one or two. Superior rooms start at $745 per night.
The Chalon Suite, named for a street surrounding the hotel is two bedrooms on either side of the suite that are connected by the spacious living room that includes a round dining table, muraled painted walls sofa and two wingback chairs, and a fireplace that leads to the patio that includes a Jacuzzi- and patio lounge chairs with umbrella. There’s also cream-colored outdoor seating. The suite screams old Hollywood, especially with the three sets of French doors that lead to the patio, and the light-colored limestone floors (heated in the bathroom) and neutral colored walls help hold natural light flooding in. The master bedroom is large and relaxing with the chaise lounge, king bed, extra spacious walk-in closet and big bathroom that includes both a soaking tub and walk-in shower. The Chalon Suite start at $5,200 per night.
The Presidential Suite’s master bedroom is large and spacious with a leather headboard, styled in in a contemporary way with off-white walls and a pale limestone floor. The bathroom is tiled with mother-of-pearl mosaic tile, with a colorful stained-glass effect. A over large soaking tub sits in the center, while the steam shower is next to it. The formal living area has a limestone floor and 14-inch ceilings, giving the room an extra-large feel. The fireplace adds a cozy touch, as well as the baby grand piano in the corner. The dining room and its 10-seater oval table, topped with lacquer by Costantini Design, with the gold painted ceiling is designed with maximum intimacy in mind due to the shape. The fully functional kitchen with subzero silver appliances is off the dining room, and Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in the hotel can cook a meal for the suite. The red leather topped desk in the office surrounded by windows makes working enjoyable. Off the office is a private courtyard area with seating and a hot tub. But, there is also a large swimming pool that goes with the suite. The Presidential Suite goes for around $17,000 per night and is magnificent with all its 7,000 square feet.
The two-story building that the spa and gym sits in was built in 2011, but matches the other hotel buildings. The dimly lit space is inviting for maximum relaxing. Oak wood floors, and silk covered walls give an inviting touch, while the relaxation room offers the most unique layout chairs that lead to the outside patio.
The indoor and outdoor restaurant, Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, was reimagined by David Rockwell, an architect whose work includes the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles (where the Academy Awards are held), and to Broadway sets like She Loves Me, as well as set design for two Academy Awards ceremonies. Rockwell has captured the essence of the hotel’s Spanish-Colonial style with old Hollywood glamor, from the marble fireplace to the outside seating area.
Hotel Bel-Air is a Dorchester Collection hotel, with other fashionable hotels around the world from 45 Park Lane in London, to Plaza Athénée in Paris. Exuding luxury and the highest excellence of top-notch service that’s personable and welcoming, along with Hollywood history and tropical ambience equals it being one of the best designed hotels in Los Angeles.