Beverly Hills has a gorgeous new icon in its midst. After ten years of planning and construction at a reported cost of around $200 million, the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills opened this summer overlooking the so-called Golden Triangle district that includes Rodeo Drive and some of the world’s priciest shops and real estate. As luxury entities go, it’s a game changer.
Built from the ground up at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, the Waldorf has 119 rooms and 51 suites designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, the French design firm behind lavish updates at London’s Savoy Hotel and the Four Seasons George V in Paris. All rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, spacious balconies and sparkling views to Los Angeles and the hills beyond.
The wow factor is off-the-charts from the moment of arrival under an enormous bronze chandelier in the two-story lobby. Having frequented every A-list hotel in the area for work and play over the years, I can safely say the Waldorf is the property to beat in a heated high-end market that includes the Peninsula, Beverly-Wilshire, Four Seasons, Beverly Hilton and Beverly Hills Hotel.
Here are five reasons the Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills is king of the ‘Hills right now.
1. You can text Jean-Georges
At check in, guests get exclusive access to a personal concierge team, available around the clock via text messaging. Whether it’s sold-out tickets to a Hollywood Bowl event or last-minute reservations at the hotel’s signature restaurant named for Jean-Georges Vongerichten (the chef’s first in L.A., surprisingly), you’re never more than a few thumb taps from complete satisfaction. Why has it taken so long for hotels to think of this? It’s part of a plus-plus service commitment that distinguishes this Waldorf location on every level. Towels, wake-up calls, a shoe shine, an icy G&T? Text and it’s on its way.
2. L.A.’s Coolest New Rooftop Bar
It’s still a bit of a secret but not for long. The Rooftop by JG — the same JG as above — can’t not become the casual go-to lunch and supper spot for agents and other deal-makers within strolling distance of the hotel. The view stretches from the elegant “flats” of Beverly Hills to Griffith Observatory and Hollywood, and the menu is what you might call classic California with kick. The lobster burger comes with green chili dressing and yuzu pickles. Beef tenderloin “burnt ends” has the perfect dash of chimichurri sauce. It’s the atmosphere that makes the place so special. Near the pool and under shade and sun, with cushioned couches and choice spots at the bar, the rooftop is everything you want in a Beverly Hills dining experience: fun, stand-out style and the electric feeling that a DiCaprio or DeGeneres could stroll in at any moment.
3. Chocolate by Milla
It’s the small touches that spell greatness at a hotel, and my wife, a chocolatier, was over-the-moon to see her chocolate-maker friend and colleague Christina Sarioz’s Milla Chocolate awaiting us as a welcome amenity. Based here in Los Angeles, Sarioz hand crafts each bar — roasting and grinding nibs and hazelnuts for her signature praliné bars. She then wraps each bar herself. At turndown, a small mason jar of Milla’s chocolate covered caramelized almonds with boubon sea salt magically appears by the bedside. And more treats arrive upon departure: Milla’s chocolate almonds topped with organic raspberry. It’s a sweet acknowledgement by the Waldorf of an up-and-coming local artisan worthy of the big time.
4. Light Show by You, the Guest
Perhaps everyone but me has Crestron’s smarthome system at home but this is the first I’ve seen it at a hotel. Your in-room iPad gives you power over room service, lighting, drapes, and entertainment. The lighting options flip instantly between settings based on your mood, be it Arrival, Romantic, or Bedtime. City guides and newspapers from around the globe are on there, too. The world at your fingertips while you lounge around doing nothing in bed.
5. They Treat You Like LeBron James. Literally
Let’s say you order a refreshing watermelon cooler with vodka as your complimentary welcome cocktail after check-in. As you’re wandering around the property, attendants at the pool and waiters at the restaurant will ask, unprompted, if you care for another. Or if you like spicy food, they’ll bring a side of chilis or salsa de cocina with your eggs in the morning. Yes, I suspect there’s a database somewhere and earpieces informing staff what each guest enjoys, but who cares? Isn’t this what service is supposed to be about? In all my years of visiting hotels in Los Angeles, I’ve never seen a staff as professional, grounded and eager to please as this one, and without being obsequious or, well, annoying. And here’s the ultimate proof of that care. At dinner, as our waiter, Raphael, served us with remarkable attention, the room came to a momentary halt when LeBron James himself came bounding into the restaurant with a group of eight. They all sat behind us in a private room closed off behind class doors. It made no difference to the staff, including Raphael, who continued to treat us like All-Stars even though we were just a couple of double dribblers.