Luxury Hotels


There are four great takeaways from FAIRMONT CENTURY PLAZA. One is GM and RVP Philip Barnes, a Fairmont leader who was trained earlier by Four Seasons.That’s him, above, working on a Saturday night.

Second is the legendary Century Plaza, a 15-floor crescent-shaped building dominating Los Angeles’ Avenue of the Stars. Designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki in 1966, it has variously been Westin and Hyatt. Now, after a reputed $2.8bn spend, it has 400 rooms on floors up to 12, with 63 owned apartments above.  Today’s bedroom designer, Yabu Pushelberg, has chosen an autumnal feel: corridors are a somewhat sobering walnut colour and bedrooms’ taupe is relieved by metre-square framings of reminders of circular skirt patterns worn on Venice Beach in the 1960s (the good thing, says Girlahead, is all rooms have full-height French windows opening to crescent-shaped balconies, the beds are divine and the toiletries are Le Labo).

Who spends time in their rooms here anyway? Head to the outstanding 24/7 wellness, with latest Technogym and Peloton. And, next to it, the hotel’s third stand-out takeaway. Fairmont Century Plaza is US home of Dr Rita Rakus, Knightsbridge-based guru to UK-based fashionistas. Forget all those other facials, the ones that slaver your face with one thick cream after another. Dr Rita’s Avenue of the Stars uses hydra-therapy, high-pressure machines that could feel, to be honest, like a lilliputian road digger followed by a roller. Now, believe it or not, the actual feel is sybaritically and sensually super. More, more, Girlahead was tempted to say to Anette, who whether or not had to thank Dr Rita or her Swedish heritage, had absolutely flawless skin.

And then, a final plus for this important hotel, food, drinks and those who serve’em. The lobby bar is just that, an open plan kaleidoscope display of head-high drinks bottles, the meet-me-at venue. After a couple of extra-long Beefeaters or Maker’s Marks, it is precisely 80 long strides to Lumière, the French brasserie that is better than anyone could expect. EDG-designed, it looks Montmartre, with tiled floor, standing palms, charcuterie and patisserie walk-in areas. Sit on leather banquettes or velvet-look chairs, lean on uncluttered wood tables, choose, say, a Fruits de Mer tower followed by ribeye and frites (or, at breakfast, possibly a signature French omelette with chèvre and chives). Wines are American or French, servers come from all over and are charming. Two other Lumière notes – there’s private dining for 12, around a table imported from Paris, and the whole space flows into a gorgeous garden. There’s going to be another garden outside the Presidents Club, when it opens, other end of the ground floor, this September.  Girlahead will be back.

PS the massive Westfield Mall, just across Century, has a first-class Apple Store.