Seeing Stars: The Hotels of the Stars..


9500 Wilshire Boulevard,
Beverly Hills, CA. / 310-275-5200 or (800) 545-4000

Even if you've never been to Beverly Hills, it's quite possible that the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel (located on Wilshire Boulevard, at the south end of world-famous Rodeo Drive) will look somewhat familiar to you.

Are you a fan of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? Then most likely you will remember the glamorous hotel in "Pretty Woman" (1990) and its Presidential Suite, where the couple stayed while in Beverly Hills.

Located only a few steps away from the glittering shops of Rodeo, the hotel's ornate European facade includes distinctly rounded awnings and rows of sculpted trees. At Christmas time, the hotel does an outstanding job of holiday decorating, as its exterior is transformed into a dazzling display of twinkling lights.

Hollywood stars like the hotel even when they're not shooting a film.

For years,
Warren Beatty lived in the penthouse suite of the Beverly Wilshire, entertaining the likes of Julie Christie and Barbra Steisand.

Dashiell Hammett wrote "The Thin Man" here.

Back in the late 1950's, Elvis Presley lived at the hotel for several years while making movies at the nearby Paramount Studios. A decade later, John Lennon stayed here for several months while he was estranged from Yoko. He chose the hotel because he knew Elvis had lived here.


Other long-term celebrity guests have included Elton John, Mick Jagger, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Cary Grant.

Most members of Britain's Royal Family have stayed here, as did Japan's Emperor Hirohito, the Dalai Lama and the Aga Khan.

Recent Hollywood visitors have included Michael Douglas, Al Pacino, Beyonce Knowles, Anjelica Huston, Dustin Hoffman, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Caine, and hip-hop artist Jay-Z. Recent dinners & award ceremonies at the hotel have attracted the likes of Steve Martin, Joni Mitchell, and Tom Petty.

Lucy Lawless (TV's "Xena, Warrior Princess") held her wedding reception here, following a marriage at St. Monica's Church. The party was attended by (among others), Kevin Sorbo, TV's "Hercules."

On March 21, 1998, at the height of "Titanic" hysteria, the Beverly Wilshire hosted The Princess Ball, a benefit for the Princess Diana Memorial Fund. The Ball featured a Sotheby's auction of a recreation of the "Heart of the Ocean" necklace featured in the movie, valued at more than $2.5 million. "Titanic" star Gloria Stuart participated in the auction, as did Elizabeth Taylor, Angela Lansbury, Ralph Fiennes, and celebrity couples John Travolta & Kelly Preston, Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson, Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn, and former couples Alec Baldwin & Kim Basinger, Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis & Demi Moore.

Built in 1928, the hotel underwent a major $65 million facelift in 1991. Unfortunately, there really isn't much for the average casual visitor to see here during a brief visit to the hotel. Its elegant lobby is beautiful (adorned with white marble, a large chandelier, carved wooden elevator doors, and polished brass and black accents), but it's a fairly small lobby, with little more than a reservation desk, and a few retail shops. There is a large restaurant in the back, but the small, formal "Cafe" at the hotel's northwest corner may be your best bet if you just want to have a bite to eat in the hotel. But dress well - jackets are required. There is also an elegant piano bar which has been known to attract celebrities.

(Update: in 2006, Wolfgang Puck opened his new steakhouse, "Cut" in the Beverly Wilshire. The interior was designed by the architect who gave L.A. the hilltop Getty Center - and the restaurant's curving white walls reflect the Getty's distinct look. The steak here does not come cheap: $35 to $120. And sides are extra. The rare Japanese Wagyu beef from Niigata will set you back $20 per ounce. Naturally, it became a hit with celebs. In February of 2008, Tom Cruise & Katie were spotted dining there with Will Smith & Jada. I spotted Regis Philbin there earlier that same week.)

On one visit to the Beverly Wilshire, I was amused to spot one conspicuous item in the lobby: the hotel had put up a framed photo of actress Julia Roberts (the star of "Pretty Woman") on the east wall of the back lobby. Alas, a visitor (Clark) informs me that the photo is no longer there.

The Beverly Wilshire offers 395 rooms, suites and cabanas (from $585 to $1,485), plus the Presidential suite and the penthouse, both of which cost thousands (phone for their current prices).

 Getting there: From Rodeo Drive, just walk south across Wilshire Boulevard.


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