The first question that comes up, again and again, is what IS a luxury hotel? The next question is why stay in a luxury hotel rather than a commodity which gives you a bed somewhere, with none of the trappings. Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills answers both questions simply. The gal says it exudes an air of confident fun, throughout. Even before you go in through the front door, on Doheny, you are smiling. A ‘couple’ sits on a bench. A ‘guy’ plays a violin. ‘Marilyn Monroe‘ swirls her skirts. These are all lifesize sculptures by J. Seward Johnson – wow, born 1930 and obviously still going strong. You can see other J. Seward Johnson sculptures in the garden of Four Seasons Dublin, and in the public space between the Conrad and the Island Shangri-La hotels above Pacific Place in Hong Kong.
So, a luxury hotel oozes such quality that it can afford to relax and be a little playful. In the case of this 285-room hotel, the playfulness in floral art is taken to maximum level. It is amazingly not over the top, but then this is Beverly Hills, where tattered blue jeans go with millions of dollars of Harry Winston diamonds, and Vito Esposito hair-dos cover the latest face-lifts. Come into the lobby of this gorgeous hotel, past valet parkers who, unusually for California, are actually kind rather than sour-face with their hands held out. Come in, look ahead and you have white flowers exactly positioned under a central chandelier. Look right and you have a whole tree of living pink blooms climbing up a wall, or so it seems.
The owners of this hotel are apparently in the flower business and this must be their best advertisement. If the flowers in the hotel look so good, they surely would look marvellous in a home in the Hollywood Hills (or where ‘I’, now pretending to be a Red Carpet Celeb, live). And, by the way, even though this make-believe celebrity lives nearby, she is likely to move into this gorgeous hotel before and during one of the many awards events, say the Emmys or the Grammys or the Oscars, you name it – there as many named events as there are weather hurricanes. The typical Red Carpet Celeb moves in at least the day before an event so that jewels, under strict security, can be delivered, and the Jimmy Choo stylist can dye a pair of shoes to go with the gown being loaned by, say, Marchesa.
Marchesa designer is Georgina Chapman, who is married to Harvey Weinstein, who persuaded Michelle Obama to ‘appear’ at the Oscars the other day. Ah, networking. This is the ultimate networking hotel for the entertainment crowd, which is another reason our make-believe celeb moves in. Before, say, the night of the Oscars she lives on sashimi, salads with dressings on the side, and smoothies. The three Ss. After the event, she gorges on fish and chips (the lovely chef here is the very-English Ashley James) or a hamburger, either in celebration or commiseration. And then, like Cinderella after midnight, her borrowed jewels and robe gone, she returns home, to start dieting all over again. But the networking in the hotel continues, in the lounge, in the bar and around the fourth-floor outside pool.
There are living orange trees around the pool, and three cabanas for the most exclusive networking, and lots of apple-green and white loungers. Looking out over the pool is the 24-hour open-sided gym. Our celebrities have to work at it, but in a true luxury hotel like this they can cycle (the like-back variety, in case they have back problems) and read a real newspaper of the calibre of the Financial Times as they burn calories. There are two Power Plates, and in the morning some of the best coffee in the world, from Peerless in San Francisco, to take up to your room in a paper cup, burn-preventing paper belt provided. Talking of world’s best, the spa, which not only has some of the nicest-ever receptionists – James, you are divine – also has an awards cert in the form of Dallas Port.
Dallas Port, yes her real name, is a former South African ballerina who leave face methods with a plastic surgeon. There is no fluff with her treatments here at this luxury hotel. She asks you your age, no beating around the bush, twists your face from one side to the other, talks about extremizymes, the latest miracle treatment that includes algae from the depths, and does Fire And Ice, a stinging hot mask followed by a near-freezing cold mask. She uses IS Clinical – the IS stands for Innovative Skincare – and you feel as if dead layers, and years, have been swept away. You even feel you can now face the general public, which here in Beverly Hills means real celebrities, in the hotel’s lovely casual-chic modern-Italian Culina. If you want to know what modern-Italian is, a caprese comes with green, not red, tomatoes. And a veal Milanaise, here called Lombatina capriccios, is breaded with ciabatta crumbs and covered in a garden of organic greenery and (red) tomatoes. The only thing missing were any flowers….