The Favorite Hideaway of the Stars
What could be better than being a guest in the palatial ‘home’ of a royal? When Prince Jefri Bolkiah, member of the Brunei Royal Family (BIA, Brunei Investment Agency) purchased the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, California, they closed down this landmark for over 2 years to remodel the already posh property. According to wiki, “His elder brother is the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. While Prince Jefri is known for his extravagant lifestyle, he has assisted in creating a stunning portfolio of the finest hotels, http://www.dorchestercollection.com His personal holdings (were at one time) a huge art collection, the British jeweler Asprey, The New York Palace Hotel, The Beverly Hills Hotel, also in Los Angeles and Plaza Athénée in Paris.” Without digressing into the mystery of this backstory, suffice it to say that the level of taste is beyond extravagance.
Even a true Royal appreciates the warmth and ambiance of this secluded hideaway. As Prince Charles once described, “it’s like staying at a rich friend’s home.”
The 3 most adored guests are still the gems of the Swan Lake in the picturesque front lawn. The original vision of “creating a natural California oasis, planting palms, coastal redwoods, ficus trees and perennial blooms” are still the focal point. Sun worshiping at the shimmering oval-shaped pool is still a private affair. The Celebs still love the secluded privacy and anonymity.
When it opened in 1946, Hollywood flocked to the see and be scene at the fresh and luxe retreat. Even in the glam era, Hotel Bel-Air was a haven for camera shy celebrities including Grace Kelly, Jackie Gleason, Cary Grant, and Marilyn Monroe, served celebrities, heads of state and dignitaries. It is still visited by the uber rich and famous.
According to seeing-stars.com, “Virtually everyone who is anyone has stayed at the original 92-room Bel-Air hotel, including Britain’s Royal Family, Presidents, and the biggest names in Hollywood, who prize the hotel for its charm and its seclusion. Warren Beatty and his wife Annette Bening stayed here after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Jim Carrey was recently spotted singing at the piano bar. Nicole Kidman and Hillary Swank were also guests. Oprah Winfrey threw a slumber party here when she turned 40, while Diana Ross recently stayed here to unwind.”
“Oprah Winfrey has a long history with Hotel Bel-Air. As Oprah stated on her 50th birthday to People magazine and on national television, “Hotel Bel-Air is my favorite hotel.” She gathered friends on the front lawn where Celine Dion sang “Happy Birthday” to her as a surprise. She hosted a luncheon at which she was the guest of honor alongside 50 women, including Diane Sawyer, Toni Morrison, Ellen DeGeneres and Salma Hayek. As a frequent guest, the beloved Chalon Suite was also made over at Oprah Winfrey’s request.”
“The hotel offers 103 rooms, all of them Mediterranean-style villa/bungalows, yet no two the same. Room 160 is known as the Princess Grace Suite, and according to L.A. Magazine, Carly Simon likes to stay there. Joan Collins prefers room 166. Room 138 is known as the Swan Lake Suite, because of its view of the swan pond. Other guests have included Prince Charles, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tina Turner, Al Pacino, Whitney Houston, Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer, Val Kilmer, Martha Stewart, Kenneth Branagh, Robert De Niro and even the very private, Michael Jackson.”
During the Academy Awards week, 2013, a couple of award nominees had their hair coiffed by Sam Kavenchy at the exclusive salon, Joseph Martin. One of the nominees sported a totally new look and when his name was announced as the winner, he was almost unrecognizable from his powerful character role in the academy award winning film. Another winner also had his hair styled by Sam and they both were beaming with their new, award winning looks! So if you intend on winning an Academy Award, you should definitely get a winning hairstyle at this tony salon!
The private enclave in the heart center of the property is the favorite restaurant for all occasions,Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel Air. “To be a part of this extraordinary restoration is a great honor,” said Puck. “The Hotel Bel-Air is one of the most beloved icons in Hollywood history and has created many wonderful memories for such a long time. It was important for us to respect its heritage, keeping menu favorites like the famous tortilla soup, while creating an entirely new concept that features the wonderful, fresh and local ingredients which surround us.”
Over the years, the hotel has developed into one of the most sybaritic and profuse properties, highly acclaimed throughout the world. As the hotel and city have matured, Hotel Bel-Air’s original ambiance has remained intact. Some loyal guests are pleased with the new facelift, while others are reminiscing about this Grand Dame who has gone to the plastic surgeon and is now a bit too slick for her age. Whether you’ve been there before or are a newbie, it is still a must see beloved landmark in the shrinking style of true luxury and class in Los Angeles.
The makeover which took two years to complete boasts a new 12,000-square foot building with a fitness studio, loft guest rooms and a 4,134-square foot La Prairie Spa is a welcomed addition to this secret hideaway. The spa menu is a rich array of luxurious treatments and offers the one of the most exclusive, coveted skincare lines in the world.
“What could be more relaxing than the sensation of gently floating on the ocean? Not much. Well, that’s the feeling the Advanced Marine Biology Facial will give you. For most people, ultimate relaxation is the destination. This is achieved when your brain sends messages to your entire body to release tension. This release of tension causes the blood to flow more easily allowing detoxification to occur. As you lay on a warm water filled mat, muscle tension is released and circulation is increased. The skin is then transformed using sea-born elements found within La Prairie’s Advanced Marine Biology Collection which work to encourage cell turnover, detoxification, hydration and provide anti-oxidant protection” Joo-mee Song, aesthetician and beauty magician.
Many guests fly across the globe to visit the hotel and spa. Locals swear by Joo-mee’s gifts and make up about 50% of the spa goers. The Hotel Bel Air is so loved by it’s neighbors, all they have to do is walk down the street to get pampered. Many are high end celebs live in the tony neighborhoods of Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills and just need an escape close to home for some R&R. It is so hush-hush that the locals never tell anyone about it. The Los Angeles glitterati want to keep this best-kept secret hideaway hidden from the maddening crowd.
The most extravagant feature is the hotel’s new Presidential Suite, starting at $15,750 per night, is the piece de la resistance. For the uber rich and famous guests, it is over-the-top-luxury, this 6,775-square feet of suite with private dining for 10, a chef’s kitchen, a study, a great room with grand piano, even has a private pool! It is breathtakingly beyond words, and bank account. Unless you’re in the league with the Royals, perhaps this is just another place to hide away. There are a few more expensive suites around the world, like the Royal Penthouse Suite in the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva, at a whopping $52,000
The most fitting description of this enclave of pampering, is from a star of the glam years, Tony Curtis (Some Like it Hot) who lived at The Hotel Bel-Air.
He describes it as the “best wife” he’s ever had. “If I could, I would marry Hotel Bel-Air tomorrow,” he said. “She doesn’t ask me where I’ve been all night. She doesn’t mind if I bring a girl home. She makes my bed every day, feeds me regularly, takes my messages faithfully and puts my laundry in the little boxes tied up with ribbon.”