Los Angeles Tour: Beverly Hills
In the 1920’s, movie stars began erecting mansions in the former bean fields of Beverly Hills, and ever since, the neighborhood has been synonymous with the apex of luxury. In the lushly landscaped, hilly streets above Sunset Boulevard, media moguls and heiresses reside in veritable palaces, but even the most elite of Beverly Hills royalty descends to the “Golden Triangle”–bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard, and Canon Drive–once in awhile to grab a bite and get a haircut. Here you'll find famous luxury shopping lane Rodeo Drive and walking-friendly side streets crammed with the crème de la crème of restaurants and retail. Young Hollywood tends to favor Robertson Boulevard on the neighborhood's eastern edge for its ultra-trendy boutiques–getting photographed there by paparazzi is practically a rite of passage.
Chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck opened his flagship California cuisine restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in 1982, later moving it to this location in the Beverly Hills Golden Triangle. Chef de Cuisine Tetsu Yagahi crafts a menu with Japanese flair, as well as dishes that have been around since day one, like smoked salmon and caviar pizza, handmade agnolotti, and tuna cones. Request a table on the recently renovated outdoor terrace.
Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows
Also known as the “Pink Palace,” this landmark hotel is housed in a pale-pink stucco building surrounded by tropical gardens. Originally built in 1912, the property is a gathering spot for the Hollywood elite, with former patrons ranging from Elizabeth Taylor to Paris Hilton. The hotel has 185 guest rooms—many with fireplaces and views of Beverly Hills—as well as 23 garden bungalows with extra amenities like outdoor lounges and plunge pools. The property also contains a cocktail bar and three dining options: the star-studded Polo Lounge, a poolside café, and a coffee shop with a vintage soda fountain.
The Bazaar by José Andrés
The restaurant—a $12 million collaboration at the SLS Hotel between the madcap Spanish chef José Andrés, designer Philippe Starck, and hotelier Sam Nazarian—is a restaurant in the way that Avatar is a movie: every element is engineered to dazzle and disorient, for better or for worse, starting with the wacky, 12,500-square-foot interior (which combines a patisserie, a bar, two dining rooms, a Moss design shop, and an itinerant palm reader). Then there’s the menu itself—half devoted to traditional tapas, the other to metaphysical riffs on same. Sure, some of it reads like molecular gastronomy’s greatest hits: the foie gras cotton candy, the dainty ice cream cones of caviar, the requisite spherified olives (which taste like salty tears). Yet only the jaded could deny the joy here. Behold the seared arctic char, delivered under a silver dome, which the server lifts to unleash a swirl of applewood-scented “smoke.” Or the conserva—canned daily in sardine tins, in the Spanish manner—of king crab with pungent tarragon, edible flowers, and a bracingly tart raspberry vinaigrette.
Virginia Robinson Gardens
This six-acre estate, renowned as the first luxury home in Beverly Hills, was constructed in 1911 and has been preserved in order to allow visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the likes of Fred Astaire, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and many other aristocrats of the day. The camellia- and azalea-filled Italian terrace, king palm forest with orchids and clivias, and the bucolic rose garden surround the immaculate mansion and Great Lawn. Red brick paths carve their way through the grounds among the statues of cherubs and fountains. Property tours are available by reservation only.
The Paley Center for Media
The Paley Center is a repository of nearly 100 years of television and radio history that aims to examine the relationship between these art forms, as well as emerging media platforms, and society. Shows from the 150,000-program collection are regularly screened in the on-site theater (check the website for daily schedules), and there are also worthwhile rotating exhibits and panel discussions with industry professionals. The annual PaleyFest connects fans with the casts and creative teams of their favorite television series.
ABH stands for “Above Beverly Hills,” and this hot insider rooftop lounge really does feel above it all. It’s perched atop the Thompson Beverly Hills hotel, complete with a Swarovski-encrusted pool ringed by cabanas, a lounge level with comfy alfresco booths, fruity cocktails and food courtesy of on-site restaurant Caulfield’s, and stellar views of Beverly Hills’s “Golden Triangle.” Technically, it’s only open to hotel guests, but VIPs and those who look the part manage to shimmy up without raising any eyebrows.
This old-fashioned chocolate shop has been handcrafting candies for the stars since 1942. Eighty-five different kinds of chocolates—including the ever-popular chocolate-covered pretzels and marshmallows—are made on original equipment, the very same that inspired Lucille Ball’s famous chocolate segment in I Love Lucy. Despite the star-studded clientele (Oprah and Elton John are among the current regulars), the petite shop has a homespun feel, with colorful hard candies in glass jars and frothy gift baskets filling every non-chocolate nook and cranny.
It’s now become a Southern California chainlet, but this original Kitson location was what started the phenomenon. Young starlets à la Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears popularized the shop, which stocks the ultimate in trendy fashions and accessories along with quirky gift items, with spending sprees captured on camera by the paparazzi. For women seeking Paris Hilton’s look from Coachella or Katy Perry’s false mile-long lashes, this is the place to come, while Kitson Men and Kitson Kids just down the street allow the whole family to get in on the action.