Hotel Bel-Air - Los Angeles - A Heavenly Hideaway

High above the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles just west of the city is one of the world's finest hotels. Part of the 1922 development plan of Alphonso E. Bell, who gave birth to the Bel-Air Estates, the Bel-Air Hotel has been a favorite getaway place for more than half a century.

The Hotel Bel-Air originally served as the planning and sales office for the Bel-Air Estates. It officially opened in 1946 after several years of planning and construction. Geographically, the Hotel Bel-Air is located approximately one mile to the west of Beverly Hills, about a half-mile off of the famed Sunset Boulevard, and two miles from the 405 freeway high above the canyons of Los Angeles.

Surrounded by close to 12 acres of trees and plants, the hotel features beautiful fountains and wrought-iron terraces that compliment its mission-style architecture, which was designed by renowned architect Burton Schut, who immediately began to convert the existing buildings and design and construct additional buildings to make up the earliest version of the Hotel Bel-Air. It was through the work of Burton Schut that many of the hotel's characteristic gardens and landscaping was added. Schut is also responsible for adding the popular Swan Lake to the hotel's front lawn, which greets guests as they enter the grounds of the Hotel Bel-Air.

Part of what makes the hotel so popular with its guests is the fact that of its ninety-one rooms, not two are alike. Each of these unique guest rooms has its very own floor plan and view, as well as its own private entrance and access to the hotel's swimming pool - which was curiously one of Marilyn Monroe's favorite spot to spend time. Many of the hotel's rooms also feature private tiled patios, fountains, as well as personal fireplaces.

Among the hotels many popular services and facilities are The Restaurant, which offers a slightly informal dining experience that features French-Californian and Mediterranean dining. Along with The Restaurant, the Hotel Bel-Air also features outdoor dining in the form of the Terrace, which was added in 2002. Additionally, The Bar has become a sight for visitors and Bel-Air residents to gather for a drink and a little entertainment. An exclusive dining area known simply as Table One rounds off the hotels offerings. Table One is essentially a large table located inside the hotel's kitchen where up to eight guests can watch hotel chefs prepare their meals.

For more than fifty years, the Hotel Bel-Air has been a popular site for some of Hollywood's brightest stars past and present. Celebrities like Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, and Elizabeth Taylor have all been guests of the hotel. Today, the Hotel Bel-Air is a favorite of stars like Oprah Winfrey, Nicole Kidman, and Hillary Swank. In 2006, $20 million was spent updating the interior of the hotel's guestrooms, an act that resulted in the hotel being named the #1 hotel in the United States by several respected publications.

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