Among the original details: A heart-shaped bathtub.
There are few things more glamorous than sleeping in the very bedroom where Elizabeth Taylor used to rest her Oscar-winning head, and now there’s a boutique hotel in Mexico where guests can do just that.
Perched on a hill overlooking downtown Puerto Vallarta, Casa Kimberly was purchased for Taylor as a birthday present by her frequent co-star and future two-time ex-husband, Richard Burton. Burton, who also owned the villa across the street, even built a little pink bridge, the “Puente del Amor,” to connect the two.
For a while in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Liz and Dick’s affair—and the paparazzi who documented it—made Puerto Vallarta the hottest destination around. But years passed, the couple divorced (for good this time), and Burton died; in 1990 Taylor finally decided to sell Casa Kimberly. The property fell into disrepair, and the paint on the iconic bridge grew cracked and faded. You could almost hear Taylor muttering that famous line from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: “What a dump.”
But after an extensive gutting and years-long renovation by new owner and designer Janice Chatterton, Casa Kimberly has been reborn, wrapped, as Elizabeth was, in opulence.
The entrance is inconspicuous—just an ornate metal-and-glass gate. But beyond it, the drama begins. And what a drama. First, there’s a life-sized bronze sculpture of Liz and Dick in their passionate prime: she, mini-skirted and barefoot, looking up at him intensely as he caresses her cheek. From there, stairs lead to a fountain courtyard where Liz’s piercing blue eyes stare you down from a giant painting on the wall. (Heaven forbid you forget whose home this once was!) Posters of couple’s films line the property’s arcaded corridors, and framed black-and-whites of their Mexico years fill the courtyard’s rear wall. If it feels like you could fill a museum with all the Liz and Dick memorabilia here, it’s because you can—and you’ll be sleeping in it, too.
Guest rooms and common areas have all the luxury trappings you’d expect: crystal chandeliers, Oriental rugs, oil paintings, and gilded antique furnishings. Spread across both villas, Casa Kimberly’s nine suites are named for Taylor/Burton films, like The Sandpiper Suite and The V.I.P.s. Chances are you’ll want to book yourself into the Elizabeth Taylor Suite, on the site of what was once Liz’s own bedroom (which goes for $650 a night). If your pockets are deep enough, you can drift off ensconced in Italian linens and wake up to 180-degree views of Puerto Vallarta’s pastel cityscape and the blue of the Pacific spilling in through a series of French doors. Step out onto your private wraparound terrace to take a dip in your own plunge pool, or give in to the suite’s ultimate luxury: a bubble bath in the pink heart-shaped tub. Said to be commissioned by Taylor herself, it’s one of the few original features left intact during the renovation.