Editors' Picks

Hotel Bel-Air

Tucked away, garden setting, retreat

701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles 90077


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At a Glance

Tucked into 12 acres of gorgeous gardens, this storied property is a refined escape with contemporary interiors.

Indagare Loves

  • The quiet, serene atmosphere
  • The Valmont Spa by the Swiss skincare brand
  • The setting: perfectly maintained meandering paths, pots bursting with flowering plants, fountains, subtropical and native California plantings


The Bel Air, located on posh Stone Canyon Road and just about a mile west of Beverly Hills, is a member of the exclusive Dorchester group. Its elegant Spanish Colonial–style exterior has a rich history, hosting Hollywood legends like Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in its early days. And in 2011, the interiors underwent a modern transformation while still preserving the property's serene, natural setting and glamorous ambiance. Guests still arrive via a tiny bridge suspended over a lake that is populated by snow-white swans, the hotel’s mascots that immediately welcome one into the serene, natural setting. The lobby, with its massive central fireplace, blond beech-wood floors and stuffed couches resembles a contemporary country hotel.

The 103 rooms (45 of which are suites) are tucked behind perfectly maintained meandering paths, pots bursting with flowering plants, fountains, subtropical and native California plantings (all labeled) and an herb garden. Most coveted are the twelve Canyon Suites, built into a hillside and with massive retractable walls that open onto patios with fireplaces, and the elegant Grace Kelly Suite. Another highlight is the Valmont spa, housed in a separate building that also contains the fitness center and three loft guest rooms. The most radical change to the old Bel-Air are the room interiors, which have turned from floral French into contemporary Art Deco, with a black-and-white color scheme and such touches as light wood floors, high ceilings and heated bathroom floors.

In terms of dining, The Restaurant at Hotel Bel Air offers an elegant escape. For sunny days, there is an al fresco area, along with a cozy, indoor setting on those few occasions when the California weather does not cooperate. The cuisine is modern California with a Mediterranean twist and it certainly takes center stage. While no longer a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, the culinary excellence remains unchanged and you can still expect a crowd that exudes a posh aura, often including celebrities, continuing with the Hollywood glamour that the hotel is known for. And after dinner there is “The Bar”, with plush velvet stools and a sleek lacquered bar. Live music enhances the experience, making it the perfect setting to savor expertly crafted cocktails like classic martinis or the refreshing pepino. The Bar seamlessly carries on the legacy of the Oak Bar, adorned with iconic images by Norman Seeff.

There isn’t a lovelier place to drape yourself on a chaise than next to the elegant and iconic oval swimming pool, and the spa is beautiful and worth seeking out, even if you are staying elsewhere.

Who Should Stay

This is a good choice for couples who are looking to relax in a serene setting, just a short drive away from Beverly Hills. Those who need a bustling lobby, a scene and people-watching will be happier at sister property Beverly Hills Hotel or at the Peninsula.

Written by Simone Girner

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