Returning to my original hometown, Beverly Hills, each year…ideally April and October…is a bookmark on my calendar. This short Easter weekend was going to be full, from teas to luncheons to cocktails to dinners, an opportunity to be with friends that I was very much anticipating. And then it occurred to me that this would be the perfect occasion to invite you all along, sharing a town that I’ve loved since a child. What fun to put on my thinking cap and spend time seeing beyond the old standbys through your eyes, which gave an unusual perspective to my focus and finds.
Hotels, first. Beverly Hills (and adjoining close neighborhoods) has some of the most exquisite, unusual and elegant hotels in this country. And I travel enough that I’m not biased, just discerning and a creature of comforts.
Where to Stay
Beverly Hills Plaza Hotel
My home away from home, just on the official edge of Beverly Hills, on Wilshire Boulevard at Comstock a few blocks from where I lived, played (Holmby Park,) polished my tennis (The Los Angeles Country Club) and went to college (UCLA.) It’s in “the ‘hood” and provides a comfy (well-priced!) spot while I enjoy trips down memory lane.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the other grand dames and iconic standard bearers of the art of hospitality that are and have been serious players in a town of movie stars, moguls, movers and shakers.
The Beverly Hills Hotel
Home to the Polo Lounge, with its shady patio where I can always make time for lunch. The large banana leaf wallpaper is surely one of the iconic décor details of any hotel in this country.
With its verdant setting nestled into a narrow canyon and swans afloat on a pond, the hotel resembles more a private home to Hollywood nobility of old.
Carrying out the traditions of this well respected hotel moniker, the Peninsula (on its own small block) well deserves their tag line “an exclusive oasis in the City of Angels.”
New to town and smack dab in the middle of the best shopping on the West Coast; a brilliant addition, most especially with its generous and shared-with-the-public garden designed by my friend, Nancy Powers.
So here’s what’s new in Beverly Hills, the old favs that are forever classics and other standard bearers of chic and taste.
Bouchon Bistro & Café
No wonder this is a TOP stop for Beverly Hills residents. Who can’t love a true Parisian bistro, in décor, style and culinary offerings (on the 2nd floor) which pairs so tastefully with an open air café version, and bakery, on the 1st floor. Include the “borrowed” garden of the Montage Hotel across the way and you have a formula for a sublime and convivial experience, day or night.There are a lot of notable eateries in this town and Thomas Keller’s contribution keeps up the standards.
A new outpost of the A-list crowd namesake in Santa Monica, this “little sister” offers rustic Italian fare for long lunches and even longer dinners, especially with a well-curated stock of mostly Italian wines. Perhaps a measure of its authenticity is the many Europeans dining there.
Beverly Hills has long needed a wine bar, and “Wally’s Wine and Spirits” of Westwood now brings to life an idea whose roots reach back to the old European vinotecas. Imagine, everything you love about dining, wining and shopping all under one roof…with a friendly, upbeat atmosphere.
Since it was Easter weekend, I added sweets to my shopping list, a category I seldom spend time on ( and which took me away from traditional shopping, perhaps a blessing.) It was an eye-opener!
Edelweiss Chocolate Factory
Who knew that this little shop (in the same location since 1942!) was a favorite of Lucille Ball. And that their back work rooms and candy conveyor belt provided the inspiration (and crew training) for the hilarious Lucy and Ethel chocolate factory skit. Their famous over-sized chocolate bunnies receiving a finishing touch.
A teensy little spot, but well worth a quick pop-in for flavored macaroons that are every bit as delectable as their Parisian counterpart, Ladurée. I was awed…and I’m very particular about my macaroons!
For the person who has everything. Candies from all over the world, with a focus on FUN…chocolates, caramels and…gummy bears for grown-ups. Don’t laugh! Check in at the tasting bar to sample them, then mix and match your favorites in their own lucite “slider box.” Just a few to mention…peanut butter caramel, peach bellini, Italian lemon fruttini, s’mores and champagne. Plus, the likes of martini olive almonds and single malt scotch cordials for those not into gummies.
My pick over ice cream any day, and it is DIVINE. It didn’t hurt that they served their nectar of the gods in a silver bowl (one fan insisted on calling it a “chalice”) with a silver spoon. No plastic here. And they deliver! This gelato is all handmade daily, so flavors vary night to night.
High Tea at the Peninsula
What a treat…celebrating Easter on the West Coast with my godchildren and their yummy mommy. Tea has always been an occasion I make time for each day, and around which I build a lot of my social interacting. Sharing it with Blaise and Roman in a grown-up setting (and a harpist in the background) meant so much. Every detail was seen to, even the proper steeping of the loose leaf tea and scones still warm from the oven. What a magical two and a half hours.
Rooftop Dining at the Montage
What can be better than a warm evening in April spent on the roof overlooking the hills of Bel Air. It’s hard to believe you’re not in Rome.
I was thrilled that Hollyhock was the site of my national book launch last fall, for this eponymous shop has long been a mecca for the well-travelled and design-sensitive aesthete who seeks the original, unique and well-curated offerings to be found within its walls. Just Suzanne Rheinstein’s raison d’etre for starting her shop 27 years ago –to sell all the things she loved for the home but couldn’t easily find in Los Angeles — gives you a feeling for her sensibilities. Hollyhock is a staple of style, within a homey, artfully decorated setting where you’ll find antiques, vintage and new accessories and furnishings curated with a point of view that makes shopping here imminently more enjoyable…and entertaining. Chic finds include Italian paper accessories, decoupage treasures, fascinating ceramics and handsome, never-to-be-seen-elsewhere lamps.
Accessorizing for Spring…René Mancini
I knew them when they were on Park Avenue; now, New York’s loss is Beverly Hills’ gain. With the look and feel of custom design, these ladylike shoes (high pumps, sexy sandals, cute flats) and handbags come in all ranges of skins and leather. But it is the scrumptious shades – from traditional darks to soft pastel-hued beauties – that will take your breath away.
My last stop, and the reason I came out…a talk and book signing in Newport Beach, California…the “other” Newport.