Just 45 minutes from LAX airport, Avalon Hotel is a Beverly Hills boutique bolt-hole that sports retro-fabulous '50s furniture (think Charles Eames chairs, George Nelson lamps and tables by Isamu Noguchi), a vintage hourglass-shaped swimming pool, and a decidedly cool poolside restaurant and cocktail bar.
Noon. Late check-out can be arranged but may incur an extra cost.
Double rooms from £223.63 ($274), including tax at 15.4 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $28.85 per room per night on check-out and an additional service charge of 3% per room per night on check-out.
Rates don’t usually include Continental breakfast (from $21) or the $28 (plus tax) nightly resort fee.
If strolling the neighbouring tree-lined streets and admiring the enviable homes isn’t outdoorsy enough, head to Malibu’s wilder landscapes; hotel staff can arrange horseriding expeditions.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout; in-room DVD/CD players, minibar; 24-hour fitness centre, spa treatments, valet parking, same-day dry-cleaning and laundry.
Our favourite rooms
Request a Classic room overlooking the pool for a classically Californian stay. Or splash out on a Premium King – they’re larger, so have room for a bigger bed and separate seating area.
The original 1950s figure-of-eight pool is heated and surrounded by loungers and semi-private cabanas. Restaurant and bar service are available poolside.
There's no spa on-site, but in-room treatments can be arranged on request.
Bring an empty suitcase and a healthy wallet: the city’s finest shopping’s to be found steps away within the Golden Triangle (the high-net-worth hub between Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard and Rexford Drive.
Common spaces are wheelchair accessible, and ADA-compliant rooms are available.
Welcome, but not particularly catered to – you won’t find the clean lines of the stylish interiors interrupted by highchairs or baby monitors.
This is one of the metropolis’ most central spots, on the leafy southern edge of Beverly Hills at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Beverly Drive.
LAX is around a 30 to 60-minute drive away, depending on the traffic (everything here depends on the traffic). British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly daily from London Heathrow.
Union Station downtown is served by trains from around the country; it’s about 45 minutes’ drive from the hotel.
Beverly Hills isn’t known for its public transport options, so cars – whether you’re in the front or back seat – are the way to go. Parking is $45 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Lacma – the nearby Los Angeles County Museum of Art, on the culture-packed stretch of Wilshire Boulevard known as the Miracle Mile – has one of the nation’s finest and most varied collections. Magritte, Rembrandt, Hokusai and Hockney are just some of the highlights, and Chris Burden’s spectacular 202-lamp exhibit Urban Light stretching out to the sidewalk at the entrance is one of the LA’s most iconic landmarks. Next door are the La Brea Tar Pits, documenting the days when sabre-tooth tigers and dire wolves roamed the streets in a genuinely fascinating museum and a slightly hilarious array of life-size models meeting their tarry doom. Watching the tar bubble is pleasantly surreal.
For dinner, Boa Steakhouse at the Grafton Hotel on Santa Monica Boulevard is a contemporary steakhouse with a buzzy ambiance. The flagship restaurant of celebrity chef Walter Puck, LA's king of Asian fusion food, Spagoon North Cañon Drive has an open kitchen and is renowned for its blend of US, European and Asian cuisine and excellent service. The eight-course tasting menus are definitely worth the extra dollars. Over in the hills above the Sunset Strip is the Chateau Marmont: no trip to Los Angeles is complete without snacking on their truffle fries.
For serious brunching or post-jog coffee, Urth Caffé’s just down the road at 267 South Beverly Drive. Grab a Spanish latte and some spectacularly decadent Belgian waffles (we like ours with bananas, strawberries, whipped cream and maple syrup) and pretend not to notice the actress sipping green tea at the next table. It’s a classic.
The night breeze flew in through the window as my Uber driver made a sharp U-turn, waking me up: I was home… or rather, I had arrived at my home away from home. I took countless Uber rides over my two-day stay, and every single one ended with that U-turn as they missed the entrance to the Avalon Beverly Hills: its pleasingly hidden location made me smile every time.
Three storeys tall and tucked away on a non-descript Beverly Hills corner, the Avalon looks more like your typical SoCal deco apartment complex than a supremely stylish hotel. Once inside, though, I was warmly greeted and ushered through glass doors, then came face to face with the hotel’s inner courtyard and sun-soaked pool. At first glance, it could easily be mistaken for South Beach, with its pastel-hued cabanas and cool color-blocked walls. But once you’ve sampled the serene mood, there’s was no denying it: this is laid-back LA at its best.
It’s an inclusive spot, though – all style, sans snobbery. The Avalon’s a small and friendly space, where you feel as if you’re among neighbours, not fellow hotel guests. (I was a Nineties teen, so it appealed to my Melrose Place memories – it’s not that the design resembles Billy and Alison’s Mediterranean abode, but rather that there’s a real communal feeling here.)
My room was up on the main building’s second floor, and a surprisingly generous size for a boutique hotel. We revelled at the extra study alcove with desk and chairs… then quickly converted the office nook into our dedicated shoe closet. (The room’s muted colors go beautifully with Prada.)
It was easy to spot designer Kelly Wearstler’s work everywhere: a fabulous turquoise occasional chair here, a retro-style dresser there… The iridescent wallpaper design might not normally have been my cup of tea, but tied in with the overall mid-century-gone-mod feel, it worked. We let the decor dictate our getting-ready playlist for the night: Lianne La Havas, Esperanza Spalding and Tony Bennett serenaded us from our room’s iPod dock.
Every morning, we walked past the hotel’s gym. If we’d been motivated enough to actually workout, we would have appreciated the well-appointed room: lots of natural light, the full gamut of state-of-the-art machines and even a mat space to do yoga. But instead, we continued on to breakfast alfresco at the Avalon’s restaurant Viviane. Who could grab-and-go when there are pastries to be savoured by that glorious hourglass-shaped pool? It’s fun to think of the Old Hollywood crowd who must have dined here back in their golden age, brokering movie deals over leisurely breakfast meetings (a certain Ms Monroe was said to be a resident, back in the day).
The pool kept us coming back. We’d spend our mornings shopping on Venice’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard or checking out LACMA’s Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit until we felt the call of the oversized sunloungers: they’re the perfect afternoon napping ground.
The Avalon’s absolute pièce de résistance, however, is the aperitivo hour. Scoring one of the poolside cabanas, we opt for rosé – inspired by Mapplethorpe’s pink-and-purple-flower series – and an assortment of well chosen cheeses. Viviane, helmed by award-winning chef Michael Hung, is fast becoming the Beverly Hills hotspot. Beautiful people in couples and groups begin to roll in around 7pm each night and, with the string of lights cascading across the pool coming to life, the mood turns into a thoroughly sophisticated pool party.
On our last night chez Avalon, coming home after dining at LA’s current impossible-to-book restaurant Bestia, we sneaked back for one last nightcap at Viviane’s bar. It’s quieter at that hour, but we didn’t mind. Isn’t that the whole point of the Avalon Beverly Hills? You never feel as if you’re coming home to a loud lobby lounge, but your very own living-room bar – if your living room had been beautifully re-imagined by Kelly Wearstler, of course. Home never looked so good.