Beverly Hills, California is a luxurious small town nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, home to many movie stars as well as home to one of the most legendary hotels in the world, The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows. The hotel features 208 guest rooms and suites, plus 23 additional private bungalows. This glamorous hotel oozes glitz with its array of movie stars, Presidential stays, and Royalty visits from around the world. Anyone who is anyone has stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The Beverly Hills Hotel is also known as the “Pink Palace” for it’s peachy pink and green decor exterior and interior along with its stunning tropical vibe.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is home to one of the most iconic pools in the world, and it is not because of its glamour appeal but it’s about the history of all of the famous names who have taken a dip in this pool. The hotel features four different eateries but two of them are the most famous of all, The Polo Lounge and The Fountain Coffee Room. Within these two restaurants and bars, you can find celebrities conversing over a chilled martini and enjoying a wonderful breakfast.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is truly a playground for the rich and famous and for those of us who would like a glimpse into this lifestyle.
The Hills Are Alive With The Color Of Pink
In 1911, Margaret J. Anderson, who was a wealthy widow, along with her son, Stanley S. Anderson, who were managing the nearby Hollywood Hotel, arranged the building of the soon to be Beverly Hills Hotel. The hotel was near to the Burton Green mansion. Burton Green was a real estate developer and successful oil tycoon. Mr. Green was also the President of the Rodeo Land and Water Company, who had bought land in the Santa Monica Mountains, which originally was owned by the Mexican government. Mr. Green then hired Margaret J. Anderson to construct a hotel in Mission Revival style and named it after Beverly Farms (Mr. Green’s home in Massachusetts). Mr. Green had invested $500,000 into this development hoping to lure wealthy people who were traveling through north Los Angeles. Margaret J. Anderson described the hotel as “halfway between Los Angeles and the sea.”
The hotel opened their doors on May 12, 1912, even before the city’s official existence, 2 years to be exact. Mrs. Anderson along with her son and Mr. Green decided to reside at the hotel. As Hollywood began to grow, by 1914, directors, actors, and actresses started to move into the newly constructed homes near the Beverly Hills Hotels. With the growth of Hollywood royalty moving in, The Beverly Hills Hotel turned into prime real estate for visitors. The city of Beverly Hills became an official city in 1914 since it had enough residents to incorporate it as a city
The first five bungalows on the property were constructed for visitors and Hollywood celebrities who wanted a more “home-like” feel. In 1919, Douglas Fairbanks and his wife Mary Pickford purchased a country home in the nearby hills, which was named Pickfair. According to publication, a movie star knew they had finally “made it” when they had received an invitation from Pickfair to dine with them.
The city of Beverly Hills soon was a thriving city and became one of the world’s most prestigious addresses. Soon after, one-by-one more A-List celebrities were moving into Beverly Hills including Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers, Gloria Swanson, and Buster Keaton, to name a few. In 1915, the Andersons decided to award a part of the hotel’s original land to the city of Beverly Hills. The awarded area was used to create the city’s first public park, originally known as Sunset Park, but later named, Will Rogers Memorial Park.
Designing the ‘Pink Palace’
The Beverly Hills Hotel was designed by Pasadena architect Elmer Grey, in the influence of Mediterranean Revival style. The hotel featured a white colonial mansion or mission look, along with white stucco exterior and terra cotta colored roof tiles. The iconic Beverly Hills Hotel signage was designed by architect Paul Williams. The hotels’ Sunroom was an area in the lobby where guests could relax with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean in the near distance. The California Craftsman style furniture mixed perfectly well with the hotel’s Spanish mission architectural style. There were many private rooms within the property for private parties and events but one, in particular, was the Crystal Room, which could accommodate up to 500 people. The Crystal Room was used for the most elegant of all events, featuring crystalized chandeliers above the dining tables.
The beautiful colorful gardens on the property, covering 12 acres, were designed by Wilbur David Cook. The gardens include tropical plants such as banana plants, hibiscus, palm trees, and other tropical vegetation. The gardens are also home to the 23 bungalows, which became almost a second home to many movie stars such as Howard Hughes, who permanently kept a bungalow at the hotel.
The original exterior of the hotel was not pink until 1948 to complement the sunset colors and the country club lifestyle during that time. By 1949, architect Paul Revere Williams redesigned the Polo Lounge, Fountain Coffee Room and lobby into their now signature pink and green style. The Polo Lounge was once again renovated in 1974 featuring table lamps and flowers, along with pink and green booths, each having their own private plug-in telephone. Having a telephone at a table dripped wealth and power and if one was called upon the telephone at the Polo Lounge, that person was deemed “very important.”
In 1942, Don Loper, a famous dancer, fashion designer, and interior designer, created the famous Martinique banana leaf wallpaper, exclusively for the Beverly Hills Hotel. Mr. Loper’s banana leaf wallpaper is one of the world’s most recognizable wallpapers ever designed! The banana leaf wallpaper can be found throughout this historic hotel through the hallways, in the lobby, and even in the Fountain Coffee Room downstairs. The gift shop downstairs sells plenty of banana leaf souvenirs such as pool towels, pillows, dresses, and even sneakers with the famous banana leaf design.
In 1956, the hotel’s signature pool and cabana club opened. Stars from Hollywood would bask in the California sun and sip cool and refreshing drinks poolside. A famous photo of Faye Dunaway in 1977 taken for the Los Angeles Times shows Ms. Dunaway relaxing poolside with her Oscar on a messy table with her looking bored.
On December 30, 1992, the Beverly Hills Hotel closed for the very first time for a restoration period for two and a half years. The hotel had a grand reopening on June 3, 1995, featuring upgrades to the lobby area, a tea lounge, custom-designed furniture and fittings, telephone lines at the private pool cabanas and many more upgrades, costing around $100-125 million dollars. In 2012, the Beverly Hills Hotel celebrated their 100th anniversary and was named, the first historic landmark in Beverly Hills.
The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
It’s impossible to not associate the Beverly Hills Hotel to all of the famous movie stars who have visited and stayed at this landmark of a hotel. The reputation of the hotel took off internationally by the 1950s and it started to attract guests from the royal family of England, Monaco, and Belgium. Actress, Elizabeth Taylor was one of the hotel’s best-known guests due to her staying at the hotel for 6 of her 8 honeymoons. When Elizabeth Taylor married Richard Burton in 1964, their morning breakfast order from room service included 2 bottles of vodka and another 2 with lunch.
There were certain celebrities who favored particular bungalows such as Marilyn Monroe, she favorited Number 1 and Number 7, they were the most private of all the bungalows at the hotel. Within time, Number 7 became known as the “Norma Jean”, due to the name being Marilyn Monroe’s actual name. In 2011, two Presidential bungalows were created and replaced the tennis courts. To rent a single night stay at a bungalow in 2018 can cost as much as $10,000 a night.
There are also famous rumors such as Johnny Weissmuller supposedly signing for the title role of “Tarzan” in 1932 at the pool. The Beverly Hills Hotel has been the home of various films including “California Suite” and “The Way We Were.” It was also the prominently featured image on the cover of The Eagles album “Hotel California.”
Food and Drinks at its Finest
Dining at the Beverly Hills Hotel is an event in itself with choices from the legendary Polo Lounge to the iconic diner-style eatery, the Fountain Coffee Room. If one is looking to “people watch” the Polo Lounge would be the best bet to experience a handcrafted cocktail from some of the best mixologists in Los Angeles. The Polo Lounge was not always what it is today, originally it was home to the children’s dining room. Later, Hernando Courtright, who had owned the hotel during the ‘30s and ‘40s, established the Polo Lounge “in honor of a celebrity band of polo players who toasted victories at the restaurant after matches.” The Polo Lounge became a place where stars would relax, have a drink, and discuss business.
For a little less expensive and more casual dining experience there is the Fountain Coffee Room, which is downstairs that offers seating on a tall curving pink counter surrounded by the Beverly Hills trademark banana leaf wallpaper. Here you can order classic milkshakes, sandwiches and salads or breakfast anytime. It is said that Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand ate here and Guns N’ Roses were supposedly signed by their manager at this very counter.
In 2007, a new lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel opened called “Bar Nineteen 12”, named after the year the hotel opened. At their latest lounge, guests can sit either indoors with views of a beautiful terrace overlooking the majestic gardens of the Beverly Hills Hotel. In the evening, as the sun goes down, this lounge makes the ideal spot to catch a Beverly Hills sunset as you sip to good health and making a promise to visit the Beverly Hills Hotel once again.