Ikea always made me laugh with their advertising slogan ‘a kitchen that isn’t a kitchen’. I don't really have the right to laugh — I haven't used the facilities in the 'cooking area' for at least ten years. However, Mrs E who has the honorary title of 'Head of Cuisine' in our house has the right to laugh, and she regularly does. She says 'why would anyone want a kitchen that doesn't perform as a kitchen'? And I suppose she is right. Imagine trying to make mince pies on your Black & Decker Workmate; it may turn out a tad messy. It is clearly a stupid slogan dreamt up by people like me who don't actually use kitchens.
You could apply this to many things. The toilet that isn't a toilet; the slogan of many a nightclub bathroom on a Saturday night. The cinema that isn't a cinema; like the Dominion Theatre in London, converted many moons ago to a live performance space. The hotel that isn't a hotel; like The Beverly Hills Hotel owned by the Dorchester Collection.
Upon my recent travels to Tinsel Town, I stayed at The Beverly Hills Hotel for a week. The original motto of the hotel was 'entitled to the best of everything, regardless of cost', and that still seems to apply today. Order a coffee to your room, and you'll need to swim back to the UK because you'll have no money left for the plane fare. And don't even look at the truffled eggs benedict, because you'll need to sell your soul to afford it. Talking about the soul, many people have seen an apparition of Rachmaninoff at the hotel - another element of ‘the best of everything’!
For over a century, even before Beverly Hills was actually a place, the hotel has been the place to be for Hollywood's most glamorous stars. Situated on Sunset Boulevard and built in 1912, the 'Pink Palace' not only has the most incredible accommodation but also has the Polo Lounge; a romantic haven in a town full of the hustle and bustle. Greta Garbo hid out at the hotel, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were regular guests, Zsa Zsa Gabor signed her first movie contract here, Frank Sinatra loved to stay in bungalow twenty-two, and Elizabeth Taylor spent six of her eight honeymoons in bungalow five. I could go on, but if you haven't painted a picture in your mind yet, you never will.
The Polo Lounge
The Place To Be Seen
If you wish to try out the Polo Lounge, go for breakfast. You'll find much better food for lunch and dinner elsewhere, but breakfast; oh I still dream about those truffled eggs. When I stay in a hotel, I usually sleep-walk to the breakfast area, and continue to be in my slumber state until at least three strong coffees have entered my system. That, therefore, is the main issue with the Polo Lounge. With greatness comes a responsibility to uphold standards. One simply can't just 'go' for breakfast in the Polo Lounge; one must experience it. Which means showering, shaving and all the other s's pre-coffee. This is something this humble being cannot accept; hence the call to room service for the coffee — and then the knock-on effect of me swimming to the UK. But if I put the grumpy me to one side, go and grab booth one, two or three and I promise you, you'll have the best breakfast money can buy; not because of the food, but because of the experience.
As for accommodation, don't even think of staying in the hotel. If you want the experience, make sure you have the money for a bungalow. Nestled in the 12 acres of tropical palms, you'll have complete privacy. Initially built for families who wanted to bring their own staff (well who wouldn't!), these luxurious suites even come with a fresh orchid. And this is precisely where they should pinch Ikea's idea; the hotel that isn't a hotel. Because in your bungalow you do feel like you are not in a hotel but at home; albeit a very nice, expensive home. And this is where The Beverly Hills Hotel really strikes gold. I stay in a lot of hotels, and it's scarce that the right combination of homely, luxury and formality is achieved. Yet they've apparently done it here for the past 100 years.
Perhaps one of the reasons I like this place so much is the snobbery. I like a modicum of snobbery once in a while, and this hotel really knows how to maximise it. They still maintain a class-oriented card filing system: White cards for us commoners, blue for the regulars and pink for the super-wealthy and elite. President Lyndon B Johnson was always a blue card, so the chance of me moving up from white is relatively slim. And herein lies the one and only problem, unless you have enough money to be a pink or a blue card, or you buy the hotel, or you have enough stardom the hotel doesn't want you to actually pay a dime, you'll feel the odd one out; the one who didn't 'make it'; the one who always hears 'next please' in an audition. And that's just not nice. So that's the dilemma; stay at one of the best hotels in the world, and feel like you belong downstairs and not upstairs, or find your local Holiday Inn and feel like a King. I know which one I prefer.
Robert Emery stayed in a Deluxe Bungalow Suite for seven nights at a cost of around $35,000.
Book and print recommendations for the topic of Beverly Hills and the hotel
The pink palace: Behind closed doors at the Beverly Hills Hotel Hardcover ¨C 1978 - a now out of print but fascinating book of behind the scenes at the Beverly Hills Hotel
The Pink Palace Revisited: Behind Closed Doors at the Beverly Hills Hotel - another out of print book well worth reading
Hotel Hell Beverly Hills and Beyond: Stories Working the Graveyard Shift - a fun and crazy book which you’ll love to read
Robert Harding Framed 10x8 Print of Beverly Hills Hotel - a beautiful framed print
Beverly Hills: The First 100 Years - a comprehensive, sumptuously illustrated history of the legendary city