Just got back from a 3-day retreat for my Wife's birthday. We live locally, but wanted to "get away" for a weekend. We have been fortunate enough to stay in St. Regis hotels, Ritz Carlton hotels, and small, elegant boutiques all over the world.
None of them have compared to Hotel Bel-Air, which is now my favorite hotel - period. Some specifics:
1. This is a small hotel; if you want 3 restaurants and 5 bars (and the noise that go with them) go somewhere else. The HBA is about a feeling that you are sharing a country estate with a wealthy uncle.
2. Grounds: The gardens, trees, and flowers here are top notch, and the atmosphere is one of walking through a botanical garden. Immaculately kept, and some really interesting plants you do not see elsewhere. How they keep every walkway free of leaves 24/7 is a mystery to me / but they do.
3. Food: Wolfgang Puck's restaurant is excellent - order the Butter Steak. Ridiculously tender. The breakfasts (especially fresh juices) were also of caliber, with all organic eggs, veggies, etc. The biggest treat, however, is the bar. Go there for dinner and a few drinks. Think dark, New York piano bar, with live music and a great, relaxed feel.
4. Room: Simply perfect. The renovation 5 years ago shows as a modern, chic look. The bathroom in our suite was absurdly large (heated floors - mmmmmm). The bed was comfy as can be, and we had two outdoor spaces to relax. Wood-burning fireplaces, an Ipad and touch-screen phones to boot.
5. People: I saved this for last, because at top-level prices (which you will pay here), it is the usually the staff that make or break a hotel. After all, there are only so many fancy gadgets and big screen TVs to set one "5 star" apart from the other. At HBA, the people do exactly that.
The staff is incredibly friendly (not stuffy at all), and I mean everyone, from bus boy to housekeeper to manager. You cannot walk ten feet without someone saying hello and asking if they can help you with anything. I would like to mention two folks to look up in particular:
Julien, the front desk manager. There was a small issue with our room (we had booked a balcony and did not get one). In about 1 hours time, he apologized, and promised an upgrade for our second two nights. He delivered with a spectacular room and follow-up phone call to make sure it was to our liking. Again, all with a friendly attitude.
Nicole, a server at the restaurant. Ask to sit in her section. Here you are in a 5-star property, and she is like having your neighbor or best friend serving breakfast. By the second meal, she knew what we wanted, and was willing to make recommendations to improve our dining choices. Again, friendly but professional - the quintessential top-notch service you expect.
If you FORCED me to comment on a change, I found the Spa massage (which was an excellent one) to be so over-priced that it was almost silly. Fully twice the price of this massage elsewhere, it was marginally better. I would lower the prices in the spa 20% to make it more attractive and competitive with other properties. Believe me, though, I am reaching here.
Hotel Bel Air is expensive -- top dollar. But for the price, you get a far superior experience to other comparably priced properties. It might just be the perfect hotel...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled on 12 acres in the Bel-Air Estates neighborhood of Los Angeles, the iconic Hotel Bel-Air is one of the most beautiful, romantic, and exclusive hotels in the world. This Spanish mission-style urban oasis wins a never-ending stream of praise for its faultless service, luxurious accommodations, and magical ambiance. All rooms and suites feature a new generation of design aesthetic and is reflected through different design themes from the glamorous decades of the 1930s, 40s and 50s conveyed in a fresh, youthful and elegant manner. The famous restaurant, bar, catering and in-room dining services are managed by world-renowned Master Chef Wolfgang Puck with a menu featuring modern California cuisine with European and Mediterranean influences in a spectacular garden setting. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Bel Air