Hotel Review: Hotel Bel-Air
A Luxury Boutique Hotel and Hollywood Icon Tucked into the Bel-Air Foothills
Hotel Bel-Air is an iconic Hollywood boutique hotel made up of 103 rooms and suites, set on a 12-acre private oasis tucked in between the mega mansions and sprawling compounds of the Bel-Air elite. Famous actors, actresses and industry moguls find reprieve in the privacy of the hidden bungalows, each one with its own unique distribution and décor.
Perfect For: Small families | Honeymooners | Romantic Getaways | A Quiet Escape | Discrete Meetings
Los Angeles International Airport
Hotel Bel-Air Location: Bel-Air is located just west of Beverly Hills, just east of Brentwood, and entirely in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Getting There: LAX, or Los Angeles International Airport, is a major hub and chances are if you‘ve traveled internationally, you’ve flown through this airport. Bel-Air is located about X miles from LAX, which can vary in time depending on the infamous Los Angeles traffic. My rule of thumb is to always allow an extra hour for every thirty minutes you expect to drive, as you never know when you’re going to come up against an unavoidable LA traffic jam.
Vibe: The hustle of LA slips away the moment you turn onto the neighborhood streets entering into Hotel Bel-Air. As the valet greets you, a footbridge carries you into the most magical of gardens, with over 100 different types of plants and 4,000 trees on property. Naturally, the guests at Hotel Bel-Air speak in hushed voices, stroll slowly through the quiet property taking in the sounds of chirping birds, and discretely glance around to see who’s who around the pool and courtyard restaurant, Wolfgang Puck’s at Hotel Bel-Air. While the element of Hollywood glamour seeps from its veins, the expectation to respect the peace and privacy of others is the unwritten law.
Accomodations: Hotel Bel-Air has 105 guest rooms, with 55 rooms and 48 suites, which can be configured between 1-6 bedrooms. When you book with Diego Travel, an independent affiliate of McCabe World Travel and member of Dorchester Collection Diamond Club, the entry level room would be a Deluxe with Patio, as our clients receive an automatic upgrade at the time of booking. Because every room has a unique configuration, it is best to speak with me about what you are looking for so that I can guide you to the best fit. The Hotel Bel-Air’s sales manager’s favorite room category is the Bel-Air Suite because you get a huge amount of value for the rate. I had the chance to tour most room categories, and also had a private tour of the Herb Garden Suite and the Swan Lake Suite. The Herb Garden Suite has a full kitchen, a spectacular living room with soaring and ornate wood-beamed ceilings, and a glamourous bedroom, walk-in closet/dressing room, and large marble bathroom perfectly suitable for prepping for the Oscars. The Swan Lake Suite was my favorite and would be my top pick for a honeymoon or romantic getaway. The suite is largely feminine with blush pink undertones throughout, a plush velvet sofa in the living room and the bedroom walls adorned with delicate butterflies, as if floating overhead as you sleep. The white marble bathroom has a floral mosaic motif on the walls. My favorite part of Swan Lake is the exterior courtyard and hot tub, which is very large and has pool loungers, sitting chairs and an outdoor dining table. I didn’t get to see the Grace Kelly Suite or the Presidential Suite, but those are other great options, all with the ability to connect to other rooms. It is important to note that many guests fall in love with a particular room number, since each one has a unique configuration, décor and setting. While they cannot guarantee a particular room number, they will certainly do their best to accommodate your request or get you into one most similar to your request. Using a travel advisor will absolutely help you get preferential treatment when it comes to getting your room request.
Food & Beverage: Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air offers modern California cuisine (think fresh farm to table) with a Mediterranean influence. The breakfast menu, which is included with your stay when you book with Diego Travel, includes a massive selection of fresh juices and health shots, apparently something that the Hollywood crowd subsist on. If you’re looking for something more hearty, their avocado toast was to die for. We ordered dinner to our suite one night, where we ate outdoors around the fireplace on our patio in total privacy. As our family is gluten-free, Hotel Bel-Air provided the yummiest gluten-free cookies we had tried in a long time.
The Bar & Lounge offers a tucked-away spot that evokes the feeling of old Hollywood glamour mixed with the coziness of home.
Wellness: The spa at Hotel Bel-Air is small and minimalist, and offers the basics in treatments such as facials, massages and manicures and pedicures. Due to Covid, the amenities like steam room/sauna were closed. While I didn’t have a treatment during our stay, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this hotel if you’re looking for a comprehensive spa treatment plan or spa retreat. However, if you’re looking for a treatment to reduce jet lag after jet-setting around the world, then Hotel Bel-Air spa offers the perfect antidote.
Things to Do in Bel-Air: If you’re old enough to remember the show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, then you’ll probably understand what I’m talking about when envisioning what there is to do around the Hotel Bel-Air. You are within a 10-15 minute drive of Beverly Hill’s famous Rodeo Drive, but also the posh areas of Brentwood, Melrose, and the Hollywood Hills. You’re also a stone’s throw from UCLA, so if you’re planning on visiting campus, this hotel will be ideally located for you and your family. The area has some of the world’s best shopping, dining, and sight-seeing in the city, with great museums such as LACMA, The Getty and Griffith Observatory, to name a few.
What Sets It Apart: I’m not sure there is another property quite like the Hotel Bel-Air in all of the United States. Perhaps in Europe you’ll find similar properties, which brings me to my point of what sets it apart. Even though you’re in the middle of it all in one of the largest and most sprawling cities in the world, the Hotel Bel-Air transports you to a European dream with the foliage, the gliding swans, the trickling water, and the chirping birds. This quiet, relaxing oasis where you’re chances of spotting an A-lister are high, are what sets it apart.
How Much Does Hotel Bel-Air Cost? Rates vary greatly depending on the room category. Entry level rooms can start as low as $695, whereas the Presidential Suite and Herb Garden Suite start at $4,500 for a nightly rate.
Diego Travel Loves: Los Angeles gets a bad rap for being the city of hustle and a concrete jungle, but Hotel Bel-Air couldn’t be more opposite. It truly is a respite from the world outside of Bel-Air’s boundaries, so if what brings you to LA keeps you on the go, reserving your stay at Hotel Bel-Air will definitely disconnect you and get you ‘away from it all’ at the end of each day. I love the location because you’re perfectly situated between the beaches of Santa Monica, Malibu and Venice Beach, yet close to Brentwood, UCLA, and even downtown Los Angeles.
Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:
- Dorchester Collection Diamond Club VIP Status
- Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
- full breakfast for up to two people (excludes alcohol and caviar)
- $100 hotel credit credit per stay for rooms and Jr Suites and daily hotel credit of $100.00 USD for suites, to be applied to the final bill
- Welcome Amenity
- Diego Travel Welcome Box for First-Time Clients
- Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Hotel Bel-Air Insider Tips:
There are no double queen or double rooms at Hotel Bel-Air. They have only king beds and twin bed configurations, with queen pull-out sofa beds in some rooms. In every room category, there are certain units that have slightly larger square footage or a preferred patio or room distribution. When you book with Diego Travel, you’ll get preferential access to these as well as getting your automatic upgrade at time of booking. Also, the main hotel pool used to be a horse ring, so the junior suites surrounding the pool are converted horse stables.
Summary of Our Stay atHotel Bel-Air:
On a recent trip to San Diego to visit family, we had to make a quick trip up to Los Angeles for a doctor’s appointment. I had always been intrigued by iconic hotel legends like the Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel, but had never visited either of them. The Dorchester Collection team was the most responsive and accommodating to all of my requests, which is always a good indication of the level of service you’ll receive once you’re on property.
Our family decided to turn the visit into a mini-vacation, so I was joined by my parents, husband and all three kids. The connecting Canyon suites we had were perfect, and rather than just a door connecting them, we had an entire stair well between the two, which meant there is total privacy, yet we’d still feel close enough had we only been traveling with the kids. Each patio had its own hot tub and fireplace, perfect for chilly California evenings.
Upon arrival, I was of course slammed with work, so I set up my remote office on the suite’s spacious desk/office area to work for 20 minutes while the rest went ahead to the restaurant for lunch. When I went to catch up to them, the thing that struck me most was the design of the restaurant! While some tables are front and center, the majority of them are booths, tucked back and divided by both perfect foliage and curtains. Let’s just say it took me awhile to find them at a tucked away table. Again, if you’re a well-known celebrity and just want to have a meal in peace, it’s immediately clear why they love this place.
The property feels intimate and there isn’t much to do for kids. The gardens are large enough to run around and explore for a day or two, but if you’re looking for a family-friendly, kids-club style resort, this is not it. While our kids weren’t the only ones making a splash at the pool, I did feel quite conscious of other guests’ book-reading and quiet conversations going interrupted by my three kids. Oops! The good news is that we didn’t stay long on either day of our stay at the main pool because we enjoyed our ‘villas’ so much, we didn’t want to leave!
When comparing this property to the Beverly Hills Hotel, which I will cover in another article, I would say that this is the lesser kid-friendly of the two, and truly perfect for adults looking for quiet, to be left alone, or to have that important business meeting. It was the perfect respite to the overcrowded LA streets and perfect ending to our days of doctor visits, walking and shopping, and eating out on the town.
If you have any questions about staying at the Hotel Bel-Air, I’d be happy to answer them or help you book your stay so that you get all the added value mentioned above. Plus, you might just love the experience of traveling celebrity-style with a VIP status, that you’ll never want to travel without Diego Travel again!