Having visited the most opulent new luxury hotel in the whole of the USA, Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, shortly before its opening on June 1st, 2017, the gal could not wait to return, to see it up and running. It is, fact, not only metaphorically running but doing a Usain Bolt sprint. It is fantastic, thanks to both hardware and software. The 13-floor building (above) is a fluid triangular sculpture by Gensler that towers above the junction of Santa Monica and Wilshire. Go inside, and you are immediately aware that this is designer Pierre-Yves Rochon doing the Art Deco of which he is such a master. Signage, curved shapes and opulence ooze 1930s, and the gal just wished she had brought a bias-cut crèpe de chine nightdress to fit appropriately into this theatre.
Like all 170 rooms and suites, Junior Suite 411 had a glass-walled terrace big enough for sitting-out, and admiring the view. Inside, it was deliciously coloured in black, white and gold – see the video below. It was tempting to linger here, in the suite, but the action goes on elsewhere. The ballroom is deliberately ‘destination’, which means it cannot be divided up into smaller areas: it is perfectly sized, with big windows, to accommodate weddings of up to 200, and apparently it has done ten happy matrimonials in the last two weeks. Both restaurants, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s rooftop terrace and his ground, main floor, restaurant, are packed out. Locals love this place, I was told by a friend, who pointed out that nearby residents had been courted before opening to get their permission for the height of this building.
The dinner menu offers the health food that Beverly Hills’ fashionistas crave and insist upon, as well as all-time classics. I was immediately tempted into one of the Petrossian caviar starters, half a Meyer lemon filled with lemon gêlée and sour cream, and topped with Oscietra (it was, by the way, sublime). I went on to an equally memorable Snake River Farms wagyu skirt steak, already sliced so I barely needed the impressive Calude Dezorme for Le Thiers knife. An important message from this meal definitely included the importance, in today’s luxury market, of simplicity of menu items, say the steak, coupled with touches of superlatives, say the lemon and caviar, and, increasingly a must, a designer steak knife.
Another important point in this luxury hotel is the vital part an owner can play. This is real estate magnate Beny Alagem’s second hotel (he bought the adjacent Beverly Hilton) but it is the first he has created from scratch and he has had a hand, it seems, in minutiae from top to toe. It is he who brought in Jean-Georges Vongerichten, for the cuisine, and he chose the hotel’s artworks, including outstanding sculptures. And what tops it all is that he is so nice, and he listens…
NOW SEE A VIDEO OF SUITE 411