Let me introduce you to Montage Beverly Hills. It's two blocks from Rodeo Drive, across from celebrity-magnet Spago restaurant and calls the Food Network's Last Cake Standing winner Richard Ruskell its executive pastry chef. And when Scarpetta opened in the hotel, Bruce Willis and Heidi Klum were among the restaurant's revelers welcoming legendary Chef Scott Conant's latest and greatest.
Confession: I've visited the Montage Laguna Beach resort and on my applause meter, it received a standing ovation. So I wondered: Could Montage Beverly Hills give a repeat performance? My final verdict is firm. Any doubts I might have had cleared as quickly as beluga disappears from a silver serving platter. For oh-so-stylish details, keep reading.
Surrounded by a marquee environment, Montage blends effortlessly. Though new by "grand hotel" standards (opened November 2008), its luxurious old world appointments create the illusion of an elegant estate from Hollywood's golden years, yet its fast-forward amenities are a reminder of its 21st century origins.
Peeks of Montage's to-be-expected white glove treatment began at arrival. "We have complimentary car service, so call our desk when you would like to be driven somewhere," gently reminded the concierge. Indeed. A Mercedes-Benz Maybach delivers guests to A-lister activities within a generous radius - from shopping along Rodeo drive and partying at the Polo Lounge to dining at The Ivy's paparazzi-lined patio.
My room's welcome was perfectly personalized - a center-of-the-bed monogrammed pillow embellished with a "D," the first initial of my last name. The additional discovery of a framed sketch of Audrey Hepburn's smart short set in the movie Sabrina by back-in-the-day costume designer Edith Head was another subtle nod to our proximity to the movie world. Designed for those who take their pleasure seriously, Montage Beverly Hills delivers abundant amenities with polished panache.
Known for its traditional afternoon tea, this mid-day activity does not disappoint. Served in made-for-Montage custom painted porcelain tea sets, the hotel's exclusive blend, Golden Pomegranate (mirroring Hollywood's Golden Age), is complemented by Chef Ruskell's pastries. Tiered like tiny packages you don't want to ruin by opening, here's a small sampling: lemon éclair, strawberry margarita macaroon, s'mores tart, and blueberry lime scone. Additional tea tidbits were curried chicken salad with golden raisins in choux buns and Veuve Cliquot premium Champagne.
Further setting the ambiance was a harpist and an overheard comment from a table of ladies summated our distinctive environs: "All of us are having Champagne except for her, she's singing tonight."
Though the youngest "child" (opened October 2010) of executive chef, owner and Food Network personality, Scott Conant, the Italian eatery readily garnered a coveted accolade - nomination for "Best New Restaurant" from the James Beard Foundation. Its Sunday brunch is a happening. Self served from the kitchen, you'll be privy to Chef Conant's impressive environs. And the doors of the light-filled dining room open for an al fresco meal overlooking the Beverly Canon Gardens or within the two-level eatery.
Delicious details: omelet station, sushi bar, carving station, kid's choices (my favs: hamburger sliders and mac and cheese), selection of fresh shell fish, cheese gallery and Chef Ruskell's mélange of desserts - all set to the music of singer/guitarist David Aldo. And if it seems made for TV, it is. It's the setting of this season's final episode of Entourage.
Beverly Hills is best observed from a rooftop patio, with a healthy application of sunscreen and an ice-cold blended drink. So, don't miss an afternoon at the rooftop pool. "You're completely pampered," states Kendra, the pool manager, whether it's with lemon water, a chilled towel or a refreshing spritzer splash. The clincher: Surrounded by eight luxuriously furnished cabanas, the mosaic-tiled saline swimming pool features underwater piped-in classical music.
Gornik & Drucker Barber Shop Now located within Montage Beverly Hills but barbering since 1936, over-the-years clients have included Hollywood stars, gangsters and politicians. An authentic old world barber shop, you'll know you're there by the traditional red, white and blue barber shop pole at its door. The Presidential Shave is a must for gents. Aptly named as Ronald Reagan was a client (on-the-wall photos confirm the fact), this grooming treat involves a steamed hot towel, straight edge razor shave, facial massage and antiseptic splash.
Kim Vō Salon
The full-service hair salon is the Beverly Hills flagship of celebrity hair artist and colorist Kim Vō, a specialist in "blonding." Translation from Hollywood-speak: giving your hair a year-round beach look.
Even by Southern California standards, Beverly Hills is a tony town. And with newish resident Montage Beverly Hills, it's a bit tonier. "They've thought of everything," noted Kathryn Hanson, a guest who's no stranger to fine hotels from The Dorchester in London to Bangkok's Shangri-La. "It seems they anticipate what I need before even I realize I want it," she said while accepting a complimentary piña colada from a poolside server's tray. Only an Oscar Wilde quote succinctly said it for me: "My tastes are simple, I only like the best." So, hooray for Hollywood. Hooray for Montage Beverly Hills.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Stay in a deluxe or higher category suite and take advantage of the complimentary use of your own Mercedes-Benz from the hotel's fleet.
When your arrival is at the airport, use the hotel's pick-up service. If desired, two drivers will be dispatched - one to whisk you to the hotel, the other to retrieve your luggage.
Spend an afternoon in Spa Montage, the hotel's two-level urban oasis. Suggestion: the signature Anti-Aging Facial. Using oxygen serum to stimulate the production of collagen, lines and wrinkles are reduced and you'll emerge with a youthful glow.
Escape to the wood paneled, fireplace appointed library to read a few chapters of your favorite book. It's hidden beyond the Lobby Lounge.
Leave a pair of shoes outside your door for the complimentary overnight services of the certified John Lobb Shoe Butler.
Sign up for Chef Ruskell's interactive pastry class if you're here the last Wednesday of the month.