There's something unbelievably decadent about staying the night at a hotel in your own hometown. So when I was taken, for a special anniversary, to the Peninsula in Beverly Hills, I felt like a kid in a candy store.
I've been lucky enough to visit a bunch of different hotels over the years, and time and time again, I end up preferring the old school, traditional and elegant ones, compared to the cool and modern ones. The Peninsula is most definitely the former. Walking into the light-filled marble-lined lobby, I'm faced with ladies dressed in floral frocks drinking cups of tea and eating finger sandwiches from a cake stand, Behind them in the garden, palm trees waft and wave in the breeze, and next to them, a girl plays the harp. The harp. I feel like I'm in an Edith Wharton novel, and immediately wish I'd dressed up better than my denim shorts and Panama hat, for the occasion.
One of the best things about the Peninsula's reception is that they have 24 hour check in, which might sound like a boring thing to get excited about, but when you've just stepped off a mega long-haul flight (or in our case, after an arduous 10 minute drive...whoops) having to sit around waiting hours for your room to become available, is a nightmare. The staff also asked us when would be the best time to clean the room, deliver newspapers, perform turn down. I've never been asked that before, such a simple gesture but one that is massively helpful.
So we whizzed straight up to our room. If you've ever been to LA and visited the infamous Ivy restaurant, the décor here smacks of the same retro Hollywood charm: floral fabrics, pink marble in the bath room, a fresh plate of fruit and macaroons that is refreshed daily, and monogrammed pillow cases for you and your guest. I can 100 percent imagine Marilyn taking a long soak in the tub here, it's that glamorous. Renovated recently, in 2011, the property also boasts larger villas in the garden, and one whopping presidential suite on the top floor, near the pool and spa. Adjacent to the pool and it's chic cabanas, The Roof Garden is a very private restaurant overlooking Beverly Hills and Century City, serving light fare: fresh salads, seafood and smoothies. Downstairs is my favorite spot of all though: the Club Bar. If Marilyn Monroe is upstairs enjoying the bedroom, then Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack would be in here, propping up the mahogany bar with cocktails. Dark leather, rich wood paneling and a cozy fireplace create an old world, old Hollywood ambience: the perfect spot for a post dinner single malt.
The service and welcome at the Peninsula is unrivaled. No wonder they have such a big proportion of regular guests. During Oscars week so many stars take up residence here that the paparazzi camp outside, trying to snap a glimpse.
As for the rest of L.A.? Here are my favorite spots. Hit Goldies for brunch in the sunshine, a new restaurant in West Hollywood with a vertical garden (you need to see it to believe it) and amazing interior design hand-picked by the Australian owner. Geoffreys up in Malibu is just gorgeous for lunch. A good 45 minute drive from Beverly Hills, the ocean views and garden setting are worth it. On your way back, stop off at the Getty Villa (book tickets in advance) for a wander around the famous grounds and a peek at the art and sculptures on display. Finally, Eveleigh is the perfect dinner spot. Busy but still romantic, the vibe is rural ranch meets an old apothecary shop, I spend all night marveling at the interior design! Take a table on the back deck, sip a Poor Carlito tequila and honey cocktail (all ingredients are sourced locally and organically) and try the chicken schnitzel sandwich. I don't know what they put in it, but it's out-of-control-good.