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When selecting a place to stay in Los Angeles, there is the age-old debate about what neighborhood to choose for your hotel – beach, mid-Wilshire/Beverly Hills, Downtown, or Sunset/West Hollywood. I've tried many of these locales.
Shutters on the Beach and the Viceroy are in the beach area of Santa Monica and they are great choices, especially in summer. Up on Sunset and West Hollywood are the Sunset Tower Hotel, the Mondrian, and The London (www.thelondonwesthollywood.com) – all good picks since they are close to the dining and entertainment scene at night.
However, my recent stay at the Montage Beverly Hills is where I recommend for the savvy city explorer. Why? Because in LA, everything seems to be a 20- to 30-minute ride away if you're lucky and Beverly Hills is smack in the center. It's an ideal spot from which to explore by day and night. Plus the Montage is in an eminently walkable area – a real rarity in LA. It's possible to have a stroll along very lovely Canon Drive and nearby Rodeo Drive. For location, the Montage is a winner.
The hotel also boasts a modern luxury appeal that is truly stunning (photo at left courtesy Montage Beverly Hills). I was deeply impressed with the Spanish/Moroccan design, the rooftop pool and cafe with sweeping city views, an exceptional two-story spa (with mineral baths, saunas, gym, and treatment rooms), and superb dining at Scarpetta (a beautifully designed space and excellent food to match). Guest rooms are exceedingly plush, elegant, and spacious, without being fusty. I particularly valued the high thread count sheets.
Service is also top notch. I planned to meet a friend in West Hollywood, and I was told there was a hotel car to make trips in the area (for a reasonable $20). To my astonishment, the Montage has a Maybach limo parked at the ready for such requests. You might as well make use of it, since the charge is no worse than a taxi.
Also, when looking for a coffee, I was immediately offered a cup in the hotel's beautiful grand salon.
I love finding smart luxury hotels around the world, and I'm pleased to say the Montage is a leader in this category. It has the right mix of elegance, comfort, refinement, and class.
One final note: I love LA because it's got great weather, feels big (the way New York feels big but in a vertical way), looks clean, and boasts a creative energy as it churns out the world's entertainment.
Also, in this town, everyone always has an eye out for celebrities, since they are spotted frequently. It seems to be a city sport. In my case, a friend and I had dinner at Scarpetta in the hotel (which, by the way, has simple spaghetti, among other items, on the menu – try it. It's among the best I've ever had). I saw a woman next to me with bright red hair which didn’t look terribly natural. My friend paused, looked, and whispered, "That's Rihanna." I said, "Really?" And he replied, "Yes. Oh, and don't miss Jennifer Lopez. She just came in with Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson of American Idol." Such is the LA scene...
For general trip-planning information, see our Los Angeles Travel Guide.