Thursday, Oct. 09, 2008

Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills

As luxurious and understated as a perfectly cut Armani suit, the Beverly Wilshire is, appropriately, just steps from iconic Rodeo Drive boutiques like Versace and Cartier. Naturally, celebrities, Fortune 500 executives, and other assorted high rollers have staked out the 395 guest rooms here since 1928. More than a third of those rooms are suites, which start at nearly 1,000 square feet (scoring a penthouse will give you a whopping 5,000). All are decorated in pale, creamy fabrics, with the Four Seasons' usual mix of antique repros and modern amenities like wide-screen plasma TV's. Even standard rooms have marble-clad bathrooms with soaking tubs, and many have balconies and views of the Hollywood Hills. The spa, designed around a dramatic wall of water, offers treatments ranging from Oshadi-clay body wraps to Balinese massages.

Insider Tip: Make dinner reservations at the in-house CUT ; the contemporary steak house pairs the cuisine of Wolfgang Puck with design by Getty Center architect Richard Meier.

Room to Book: The Veranda Suite, hidden on its own level, is the hotel's smallest but most romantic—complete with its own balcony, as the name implies.

Four Seasons Hotel

The spectacularly huge floral arrangement that dominates this hotel's small lobby hints at the opulence of the 285 rooms and suites—all of which are adorned in rich brocade fabrics, gleaming warm-toned wood, and beds piled with down duvets and pillows. Most have spacious marble bathrooms and balconies big enough to read the morning paper on. Little wonder that the 16-story property is a favorite hangout for celebs year-round (if you book during the week of a major awards ceremony, you'll be practically overrun by famous guests). There's a see-and-be-seen scene at the fourth-floor pool, where Hollywood bigwigs review scripts over Bellinis and divas disappear into poolside cabanas for their afternoon massages. If you don't run into your favorite star while waiting for a fruit-and-pumpkin enzyme facial peel, you probably will at the lavish Sunday brunch at Gardens, the hotel's alfresco restaurant.

Insider Tip: As celebrity moms like Courteney Cox and Victoria Beckham already know, the Four Seasons is super family-friendly: even mini terrycloth robes are provided for the kiddies.

Room to Book: The Grand Luxury Suite (No. 1606) offers awesome views of the Hollywood Hills and downtown L.A., along with a huge bathroom.

L'Ermitage Beverly Hills

Minutes from Rodeo Drive, this sleek, Asian-inspired hotel is a favorite with visiting fashionistas (no less than Giorgio Armani stays here when he's in town, and Julia Roberts makes appearances, too). A streamlined, uncluttered aesthetic prevails in the 119 rooms—which, at 675 square feet on average, are some of the most spacious in town. All have platform beds and fluffy duvets, English sycamore paneling, 40-inch flat-screen TV's, surround-sound Bose speakers, and personal lighting and temperature controls. The rooftop pool, with its teak chaises and panoramic views over the Hollywood Hills, is a scene unto itself; if you're a VIP (or want to feel like one) book one of the two Moroccan-style cabanas, which come with stereos and drink-stocked fridges.

Insider Tip: Book way, way ahead during awards season—and bring your camera: the hotel is sure to be filled with Oscar hopefuls and their entourages.

Room to Book: Any unit ending in -5 with views of the Hollywood Hills.

The Standard, Downtown L.A.

Hip digs, reasonable prices, and a too-cool night scene are the draws at this André Balazs outpost. The trendy, whimsical interiors here are fun and don't take themselves too seriously: both George Jetson and Austin Powers would feel at home hobnobbing over cocktails in the canary-yellow restaurant, or lounging on the shocking-pink sectional in the lobby. Accommodations range from 280-square-foot "Cheap" rooms to 1,000-square-foot penthouses. With their platform beds, predominantly black-and-white décor, and abstract art, the hotel's 205 rooms are chic studies in minimalism. Funky design elements are everywhere, from the massive Roman foot sculptures in guest bathrooms to the bright-red podlike cabanas housing vibrating waterbeds that surround the pool. The Rooftop Bar, with its stunning downtown views, potent mojitos, and movies projected onto a nearby building façade, attracts the young, the beautiful, and the soon-to-be-famous.

Insider Tip: If you're looking for peace and quiet, book elsewhere—the nonstop party here will only annoy you.

Room to Book: Any of the 710-square-foot loft-style "Wow!" rooms, whose massive bathtubs are big enough for Entourage-style group soaks.

Sunset Tower Hotel

Gorgeously revived in 2006 by hotelier Jeff Klein, this 1929 Art Deco landmark was once an apartment building to the stars (John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra all had crash pads here). Though it's been a hotel since the 1980's, the building's glamorous new incarnation finally does justice to its extraordinary "bone structure"—which includes dramatic cast-concrete exterior friezes and curved floor-to-ceiling windows. The décor in the 74 rooms pays tribute to the Deco era, but subtly: dark walnut furnishings are trimmed in glass and polished brass, and the bold-patterned fabrics and wallpaper are softened by deep tones of chocolate, gold, and rust. The iPod docking stations, plasma-screen TV's, and glass shower stalls stocked with Kiehl's products don't seem out of place—but somehow the rooms, as well as the common areas, hark back to a distinctly more elegant time.

Insider Tip: A tipple in the wood-paneled Tower Bar (in what used to be Bugsy Siegel's apartment) is a must. But be prepared to turn your cell phone off—annoying ringtones and picture-snapping are forbidden here.

Room to Book: Choose one of the hotel's two 1,000-square-foot Penthouse Suites, which boast an additional 1,000 square feet of wraparound balcony space—and 180-degree unobstructed views of Los Angeles.