Beverly Hills has a lot more to offer than meets the eye. And of course, what immediately meets the eye is the Beverly Hills Hotel; the 90201 TV series; Rodeo Drive; and the entire movie industry. But few visitors realize that Beverly Hills, which celebrated its centennial in January, was originally known for its ranches and rodeos, as well as agriculture -- rather humble beginnings for a city that is now synonymous with money and flash.
And if you're looking for the glitz, it's certainly there for the taking: In honor of the 100th anniversary, five luxury hotels (The Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows, Montage Beverly Hills, The Beverly Hilton, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, and The Peninsula Beverly Hills) have created the Suite 100 initiative in which each property decorates a suite so that guests can experience luxury in a particular era. From the Film Noir suite at the Montage Beverly Hills to the Golden Age Inspired by Marilyn Monroe room at the Beverly Hills Hotel, each of the properties will serve up period-inspired decadence for a steep price (around $1,900 per night).
For those of us who want to travel here without spending like an heiress, here's how to do it:
Book an (affordable) pad: If you don’t want to sleep at the La Quinta, which is priced at around $85 per night, opt for digs at the centrally-located The Crescent Hotel, which offers beautifully appointed rooms, a great breakfast, and lovely little touches like complimentary mini chocolate croissants along with down-to-earth and efficient service – all for around $200 a night.
The Mosaic Hotel on Spalding Drive will also fit your budget, and it's a pebble’s throw from Rodeo Drive. It also offers a fine on-property restaurant, Hush. April rates start at $207.
Shop Smart: It’s usually best to window shop along tree-lined Rodeo Drive, rather than plunk down your credit card. But there are bargains to be found among the Armani, Gucci, Chanel, and Harry Winston stores. Step off Rodeo to Wilshire Boulevard and you’ll find Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, where you're more likely to find a bargain or two. For a gourmet Beverly Hills store, try The Cheese Store on Beverly Drive, which has items like five-year-aged Gouda from Holland, an Austrian cow’s milk cheese called “Amadeus” after the famous composer, as well as chocolate and gift baskets.
Get Cultured: Museums, galleries and artistic pursuits are everywhere. This is the destination of the well-heeled, after all. Spend an afternoon or two at cultural gems like the Architecture and Design Museum, Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM), and The Getty Center, where admissions cost less than $10. The Getty Center, built by billionaire J. Paul Getty, houses Greek and Roman pieces as well as masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vincent Van Gogh. CAFAM is a two-story space that offers everything from macramé exhibits and mixed media, mostly by local artists.