After a weekend in the California countryside, so to speak, it was time to return to city life. The gal arrived at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, which fortunately allows you to check in, and out, at any time. But then this is a luxury hotel which goes far beyond the norm in thinking what customers might actually want – is there ANY traveller who, if given choice, would arrive at a hotel at exactly 3pm and leave at exactly noon? It takes management, this checkin/out any time, but it is worth it. This hotel has its own people to meet you, at the airport, and you can order room service as you are driven to the hotel. The 194-room Peninsula Beverly Hills has a staggering 70% repeat rate.
I can understand this. Peninsula Beverly Hills is, as its name implies, in the City of Beverly Hills, named by Burton Green, who in 1900 had bought a plot of land here, on behalf of the Amalgamated Oil Company. It was intended for oil exploration, which turned out to be unsuccessful. Green named the area after Beverly Farms in Massachusetts. The City of Beverly Hills even has its own trademark, a shield commissioned in the 1930s by a local resident, Jack Warner, who had it designed by Warner Brothers Studios art department. Today Beverly Hills is known not only for chic style but for shopping. Think global luxury retail and Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive is top of the cognoscenti list.
As I walked up Rodeo Drive I was, as always, struck by stunning window displays. Gucci, at 347 North Rodeo Drive, has something more to offer: on 17th February it opened a rooftop restaurant, Gucci Osteria in Beverly Hills, a partnership between arguably the world’s best chef, Massimo Bottura, and his childhood friend and Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, who both hail from Modena. The 50-seat restaurant has design touchstones from the first Gucci Osteria in Florence, such trappings as antique mirrors, red marble dining tables, and wicker dining chairs. Its chef, Karime López, is Mexican – she gained a Michelin star at Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura Florence. Uniquely, instead of a traditional white toque she wears a Gucci headscarf, and servers are also clad in Gucci.
Loyalty to The Peninsula Beverly Hills is also understandable for its personalisation. I was in detached villa #133, which had a small patio that was 98% completely private. Inside, a log-look fire, friendly oil landscapes, books and good lighting, plus one of the pillows embellished with an embroidered MG, all make me feel really agreeable. I had a bowl of whole fruit, including several bananas in perfect condition. I also had a long dish of berries, all types. This was totally brilliant. The boss here, Offer Nissenbaum – see above – says he goes through arrivals every morning, seven days a week. He also cleverly incentivises room maids and room service servers, with vouchers for local cafés. Did the person in #133 eat all the blueberries but not the blackberries? If so, blackberries will be replaced by a double order of blueberries.
Villa #133 was so agreeable it was a joy to spend the evening dining in it. I ordered a house special, truffle mac’n cheese, and gosh it was so yummy it is worth staying at The Peninsula Beverly Hills just for that (I am sure it tasted even better than Karime López’s best-selling pizza risotto, which sounds absolutely ghastly, even though she tops it with San Marzano tomatoes and basil sauce!). Anyway, a waiter brought a massive silver tray bearing the most superb macaroni, not overcooked, with the lightest sauce. I had good, in other words ‘real’ breads and, unasked for, a minute bijou salad, and two chocolates, one covered in dark chocolate, the other one bound in a kaleidoscope of chocolate colours – and I enjoyed a jolly good glass of 2014 Pinot Noir Peninsula Proprietor’s Blend La Cruz Vineyard 2014.
The outdoor pool, with its 14 desirable cabanas around, is rooftop, next to an outdoor dining area and, inside, the spa and LifeFitness gym. Some breakfast up there, pool-side, Bordeaux burners at the ready. Down at ground level, breakfast in Belvedere was a sun-filled occasion: the room, which does have a terrace, seems like a conservatory. I could have had a choco-charcoal acai bowl, with bananas, coconut, almonds, peanuts, dark chocolate cacao nibs, and charcoal, but I went for avocado toast, neatly presented on Villeroy & Boch. We are not hip, we are timeless and deliberately understated, says Offer Nissenbaum. He believes it is a real advantage only to be a compact – small is beautiful, he believes. His other mantras include delegating, training well and then letting his team get on with it. He is also always aware that luxury is small details coupled with emotion. NOW TOUR MY LOVELY VILLA