california dreamin’ in bel air

On a beautiful sunny California day I cross the exquisite Swan Lake of Hotel Bel-Air, admiring a swan floating majestically along as I stroll over the bridge through the stunning paradise gardens of this exclusive oasis feeling like I’m part of a fairytale.


Twelve acres of landscaped lush gardens are home to three hundred species of plants, a true natural luxury escape, far from the noise of the city and though so close to the ultimate shopping paradise of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, where some boutiques open on appointment only.

Just minutes away from Los Angeles’ most popular attractions and restaurants, Hotel Bel-Air is regarded as one of the most beautiful and romantic hotels in the world and the place where the rich and famous go to hide from the prying eyes of their adoring public.

The stunning interiors of Hotel Bel-Air were inspired by the golden age of Hollywood, a period of Southern Californian residential architecture and design evoking glamour and graceful living with international flair. In the 1940s Hotel Bel-Air was a private estate and I can easily imagine the lifestyle of its original inhabitants. I am transported back to the time of Garbo, Gable, Bogart and Bacall.


The Bel-Air’s design has always featured an eclectic mix of influences, from Spanish colonial to French Deco, and it combines this with a young, fresh and elegant feeling, entirely in keeping with its history. Stone floors in limestone and polished marble, pale plaster walls, natural wood ceilings and rich finish and textures create a style that fits the glorious garden atmosphere.

The hotel has impeccable service from a highly professional yet extremely friendly staff. Combined with luxuriously appointed rooms and its charming atmosphere and I have found somewhere that I want to come back to time and time again.

All of the newly refurbished guest rooms are designed with innovative technology and the forty-five suites, including six one-of-a-kind specialty suites, offer grand living with large garden patios for privacy.

The impressive Presidential Suite has its own private pool, and twelve hillside bungalow-style rooms offer sweeping canyon views, expansive sliding glass walls and spacious decks with private outdoor spa pool and fireplace.

The only problem I encounter at Hotel Bel-Air is which suite to choose!

The Swan Lake Suite exudes grace, elegance and charm, the Chalon Suite, modern design harking back to the 1940’s dreamland. Then there’s the beloved Herb Garden Suite, the Patio Suite with a mixture of classic and contemporary Hispanic style, and the Grace Kelly Suite which embodies elegance and feminine charm.

And that’s not taking into account the three unique loft rooms with open floor plan, double sided fireplaces and dramatically high ceilings.


I enjoy the mix of Californian cuisine with European and Mediterranean influences on renowned Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck’s menu. It is based on locally sourced ingredients from farmers’ markets, served in a smart dining room or on the pretty garden terrace.

Wolfgang Puck’s afternoon and evening menu offers light snacks and dinner, including a Mediterranean mezze platter or artisan cheeses to share, as well as a selection of full-sized entrees.

Hotel Bel-Air’s spa by famous Swiss brand La Prairie is one of thirty Forbes five-star spas in the United States and the only one in LA. La Prairie features seven treatment rooms, including a couples’ enclave with private patio, a mosaic steam room and comfortably chic relaxation areas.

It is an oasis within an oasis, offering the finest face and body treatments, including customized age-defying facials and unique body treatments to complete the relaxing atmosphere of this magical place. The caviar luxury treatment is a two-and-a-half-hour experience which envelopes face and body in the ultimate luxury that I will treasure for years to come, and not just because it makes me feel half my age!

A new state-of-the-art techno-gym is adjacent to the spa and can be accessed twenty-four hours via key card for more rejuvenation or more physical activity.

For over sixty-five years, the signature oval-shaped pool has been the focal point of Hotel Bel-Air. Once a former horse riding ring for the Bell Estate, hanging palms and cascading blooms surround the swimming pool where guests are refreshed with hourly pop-up refreshments.

As I sit poolside, sipping a cocktail under the Californian sun, there is no need to dream of fairytales as I am living one at Hotel Bel-Air.