Seeing Stars: Hotels of the Stars..


701 Stone Canyon Road,
Bel-Air, CA. / 310-472-1211 or (800) 648-4097



Some people consider this secluded hillside retreat the finest hotel in the world. And it is definitely the most romantic hotel in Southern California.

The Hotel Bel-Air is situated just above U.C.L.A., nestled quietly in the wooded, wealthy hills of this posh community, surrounded by the mansions of Hollywood celebrities. A visit to this five-star hotel is like entering another world, completely removed from the hustle and bustle of urban Los Angeles.

Entering the Hotel Bel-Air, you walk through eleven acres of exquisite tropical gardens, shaded by blue, blossoming jacaranda trees and a 50-foot pink floss tree, past a tranquil waterfall, across an arching stone bridge over a blue lake filled with beautiful white swans.

Virtually everyone who is anyone has stayed at the 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 wife Annette Bening stayed here after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Jim Carrey was recently spotted singing at the piano bar. Oprah Winfrey threw a slumber party here when she turned 40, while Diana Ross recently stayed here to unwind. Nicole Kidman and Hillary Swank were also recent guests.

The hotel offers103 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 and Robert De Niro.

The Hotel Bel-Air temporarily closed in late 2009 for a major makeover, but it reopened 24 months later (in October of 2011), with 12 new rooms built into the hillside offering sweeping canyon views, as well as a new spa and a fitness center.  Chef Wolfgang Puck will now manage the hotel restaurant.

Inside the Mission-style hotel, you'll find an airy dreamscape filled with colorful flowers, fine antiques, a live pianist, and wood-burning fireplaces. The hotel isn't inexpensive (as of Fall 2011, rooms start at $595), but is in a class all its own. The patio restaurant here offers one of the most sumptuous dining experiences in Southern California, and affords the rest of us a chance to visit the hotel.

Getting there: The hotel is located one mile north of Sunset Boulevard, above the U.C.L.A. campus, in Bel-Air. From Rodeo Drive, go north to Sunset Boulevard, and turn left (west). Follow Sunset (about two miles) to Stone Canyon Road. Turn right (north) on Stone Canyon Road and follow it through a posh residential neighborhood (about one mile) to the hotel. The hotel will be on your left (west) side. / From the San Diego (405) Freeway, take the Sunset Boulevard offramp and go east on Sunset (about one mile) to Stone Canyon Road, then turn left.






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