Beverly Hills. Lushly green. The celebrated 90210 ZIP code. The fabled neighborhood is the jewel of Los Angeles.
In this sun-drenched, geographical slice of pie, the rich tradition and history of star-studded Beverly Hills surround you. Nowhere is the return to Hollywood’s Golden Age more embodied than at the Montage Beverly Hills. Combining Spanish, Italian and Moroccan aesthetics, this ultra-luxury hotel has every amenity imaginable … and then some.
A mini-library in each suite is filled with a marvelous array of inviting books: Raymond Chandler mysteries; Alfred Hitchcock biographies; Chanel and Her World; Buster Keaton; Hollywood: Then & Now; and Grace Kelly: A Life in Pictures (to name just a few). Each one teasing me into believing that I could curl up on the plush sitting room couch, enjoy urbane American cuisine in each of the three opulent restaurants, surrender to pampering in the Moroccan-inspired, 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage and stay for at least a week in such luxury. Favorite touches: Pratesi Italian linens, golden pomegranate bath products, being asked if you prefer pillows of 100 percent or 70 percent down content and — I kid you not — a smaller neck pillow, personalized with your very own monogram.
The Beverly Wilshire Hotel at the foot of Rodeo Drive, the ultimate shopping destination, still dazzles and channels Pretty Woman. The Polo Lounge and the private bungalows of The Beverly Hills Hotel still charm, and tucked inside tree-lined residential settings is The Peninsula Beverly Hills for elegance and impeccable service.
Above all, Beverly Hills is a neighborhood of beautiful homes, going back to 1919, when Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford built their mansion, Pickfair, leading a wave of movie stars like Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino and Charlie Chaplin to follow.
Yes, you can purchase inaccurate “Star Maps” from a guy wearing a red- and orange-striped umbrella hat on a sunny street corner. Don’t.
Instead, venture outside the rarified air of Beverly Hills to discover places like the amazing LA Opera, the architectural wonder of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the many dining and shopping spots listed below — all frequented by locals. And, yes, locals do include current-day celebrities.
Greystone Mansion, a 46,000-square-foot Tudor mansion is open to the public for various events throughout the year: Inside Private Walking Tours, Jazz at the House, Teas on the Terrace and The Manor Murder & Mystery, recounting the 1929 murder of the owner, Edward “Ned” Doheny Jr., just four months after he moved in with his family. Eight decades later, the murder is still under a cloud of suspicion.
Los Angeles, all sprawling 500 square miles of it, has so much to offer.
» Mr. Chow, 344 N. Camden Drive: Superb cuisine in a celebrity hangout. (310.278.9911)
» Mastro’s, 246 N. Canon Drive: Steakhouse, Sinatra style. (310.888.8782)
» The Farm, 439 N. Beverly Drive: American cuisine, breakfasts to die for. (310.273.5578)
» The Ivy, 113 N. Roberston Blvd.: Charming, romantic favorite of L.A.’s rich and famous. (310.274.8303)
» Spago, 176 N. Canon Drive: Another Puck gem, his flagship, with culinary magic observed through a giant wall of colorful, etched glass. (310.385.0880)
» The Grill on the Alley, 9560 Dayton Way: Comfort food among L.A.’s high-powered agents, producers and clients. Try for an oversized, green center booth. (310.276.0615)
» Polo Lounge, 9641 W. Sunset Blvd.: Also at the Beverly Hills Hotel and still a favorite breakfast spot and watering hole for Hollywood stars and deal makers. (310.887.2777)
» The Nosh, 9689 S. Santa Monica Blvd.: Great for breakfast and lunch. (310.271.3730)
» Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market, 9300 Civic Center Drive: Offering the finest California-grown fruits, vegetables, juices, breads and specialty items. (310.285.6830)
If ubiquitous paparazzi and trendy fashions are your deal, head for Robertson Boulevard:
» Kitson Boutique, 115 S. Robertson Blvd.: Trendy everything. (310.859.2652)
» Lisa Kline Boutique, 123 S. Robertson Blvd.: Hot designer jeans and dress shirts. (310.246.0907)
» Intermix, 110 Robertson Blvd.: A great place for finding separates and accessories. (310.860.0113)
» Madison, 9630 Brighton Way: At-the-moment clothes. (310.273.4787)
» Ted Baker, 8500 Beverly Blvd.: Playful boutique from the acclaimed British designer. (310.854.0727)
» Tory Burch, 142 S. Robertson Blvd.: American designs with lots of bling-bling. (310.248.2612)
If you prefer sneakier, backdoor paparazzi and more elegant fashions, try peaceful, tree-lined Melrose Place:
» Carolina Herrera, 8441 Melrose Place: Elegant evening and bridal gowns. (323.782.9090)
» Oscar de la Renta, 8446 Melrose Place: Favorite destination for the “real” Oscar attendees. (323.653.0200)
» Marc Jacobs, 8410 Melrose Ave.: Ivy-walled, corner street chic. (323.866.8255)
» Monique Lhuillier, 8485 Melrose Place: Sophisticated evening and bridal gowns beneath gleaming crystal chandeliers. (323.655.1088)
» Connoisseur Antiques, 8468 Melrose Place: 18th- and 19th-century European antiques and collectibles. (323.658.8432)
If you prefer an outdoor “mall” and high-end designer items, then head for Rodeo Drive, where you’ll find it all.