Discreet. Quiet. Peaceful. Comfortable. Grand. Upscale. Exquisite. Serene.
I could go on and on and on about the Hotel Bel-Air, but you can get my drift.Â And may I say candidly, that the one word that popped up every single time without fail when I mentioned that I was staying at this luxurious property set in the posh neighborhood of Bel-Air in LA, was “DISCREET”.Â As we all know, those who really want to hide, know how to do it and where to do it (John Edwards: FAIL).Â Yes, those “in the know” of the Hollywood scene front and back end, are fully aware that if you want to be discreet, you go to the Hotel Bel-Air.Â First of all, it’s not that easy to find, like it is not found on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood or downtown, or anywhere that screams, “come here and party and stalk the stars!”Â The staff of the property, which from my understanding is one of several owned by the Sultan of Brunei, is clearly well aware of the “respect of privacy” policies, which even if you have nothing to hide (all though we all do, don’t we?), makes you feel very special.
The sprawling hotel and Wolfgang Puck restaurant opened its doors, after being closed for a two year $100 million renovation, in October of 2011.Â We had a chance to have dinner in November last year, and while the service and food were excellent, it was dark, we didn’t get the opportunity to tour the land and take in the scene.Â The bar was hopping and there was a good energy.Â So we decided we might return during the day, and perhaps, if we would be so lucky, a long weekend stay.Â Ask and you shall receive.
Once you discover where the hotel is, you realize it’s more like a country club or resort versus your run of the mill luxurious hospitable building. You are welcomed in the parking lot as you drive in by Ralph Lauren Polo model doppelgangers complete with perfect crisp attire and perfect tans.Â Your host/hostess meets you and walks you over the bridge where you can spot the famous swans and the bright gardens.Â This space is lush, green, floral with the calming sounds of the water trickling below, tinkling like soft bells.Â The concierge and check-in area off to the side of the main entrance, is a clue that not everyone walking through the doorway needs to see who is going to stay the night, the weekend or the week…or the month.Â As this has been newly renovated, all of the decor is clean, understated and very, very, very contemporary.Â One feels as if you have been plummeted toward the future, but then you are brought back to days of yore with the winding walkways and abundant bushes, trees, and flowers.
We upgraded to the Canyon Suite, so the staff nimbly shifted to accommodate our last minute request and we had a quick guided tour of the gracious property, including the new Spa and Fitness Facility building.Â Then we came back to the large oval shaped pool which offers seating for lounging and dining, sipped our first adult beverage of the day, and waited patiently until we were fetched by a tall tan gent who offered to bring us back to our suite.
We strolled back past the restaurant, up a set of stairs, took the elevator to the 3rd level and walked to our private little entrance.Â Later, I learn that every suite seems to have its own special space, view, access, again, gently respecting guests’ need for privacy.
Our suite had a sitting room, desk outfitted like a mini-Star Trek control board, swiveling HD flatscreen, king bed, soaking tub, shower, double sinks, water closet, galley clothing closet and drawers, and what made this space really special was the spacious “patio”.Â Here, we enjoyed a gorgeous view, had a remote glass fireplace, dining table, seating area, lounge chairs with sun hitting mid day to late afternoon, and yes, our own 3 1/2 foot whirlpool on which the cool shade befittingly fell.
I mean. Could it be any better?Â I say no.
The service was impeccable, the food, albeit consumed with great satisfaction, is not inexpensive at all, may I reiterate, at all, however, with our suite we received a $100 daily F&B credit, but as a warning, don’t have sticker shock at the prices of the in room dining or even breakfast items, both of which we indulged in while there.Â Just order, eat, drink and be very merry.Â And remember to tip well, because these men and women deserve it.Â On another note, I had a conversation with a person who now lives in Marina Del Ray, had lived in New York for years and for a split second in DC and he as well as another person in the room came to the conclusion that the hospitality in DC can’t even compare (well, the food in LA is much better because of the produce selection and the no-holds-barred creativity in SoCal) to LA’s service with a smile.Â We wondered if it was because there is more competition in LA, more people/patrons/opportunity or just because everyone is high on the sun’s rays.Â We will continue to ponder this.
Back to the hotel.Â Let me share with you a few things that I considered at first, the most amazing aspect of the room, which later, I retracted.Â The bells, whistles, the advanced technology.Â I wasn’t kidding when I said it was like controlling Star Trek.Â From the lights, the the buttons, to the iPad, to the touch screen phones, to the master control to the remote controls to the Asian toilet, this suite was hooked up, more like jacked up with technology.Â I couldn’t figure out how to get anything to work and call me an idiot, but at one point, I claimed aloud, “Why can’t this lamp just have a switch to turn on and off like in the olden days?” Next I’ll want a rotary phone, right? Well, as much as I can sort of appreciate advanced technology, I can also sort of want something simple that will always work and that doesn’t require a software upgrade nor an engineer to work.Â I will also say that anytime we had a question, an incident, a challenge, the staff did whatever they needed to do to fix the issue.Â We even were sent a bottle of bubbles to enjoy by the front desk, a surprise, but truly appreciated.Â As they say, it’s how the property handles the situation, that defines them.Â Always, it was smooth, professional, quick, and painless.
Let it be known.Â I am begging anyone to buy me that toilet which is the best invention ever. I actually MISS the toilet almost as much as I miss food and excellent personal service.
For those folks who were part of the old guard having tea and hiding out with the who’s who (I know I met several of those kind people) you may not feel as connected to the new look and feel of the property. For someone like me, who is from the east coast, had never stayed at Hotel Bel-Air, nor sipped afternoon tea with Nancy Reagan, well, it suits me just fine. We will be back for sure. It’s worth the stay for the comfort, the nature surroundings, the service which makes you feel so special, the dining, the sun, and yes, the privacy.Â Hey, even we little people love us some privacy.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.