Behind the famous facade (remember the Eagles' Hotel California album?) lies this star-studded haven where, since 1912, legends were, and still are, made: The "Pink Palace" was center stage for both deal- and star-making in Hollywood's golden days. Today stars and industry hotshots or, as one member of the staff joked, "all the current rulers of the universe," can still be found lounging around the Olympic-size pool (into which Katharine Hepburn once dove fully clothed) or digging into Dutch apple pancakes in the iconic Polo Lounge, where Hunter S. Thompson kicked off his adventure to Las Vegas. It is a truly world-class property, and in fact, it's one of only two hotels in the world that gave its name to the city that was built around it. (The other is La Quinta, a desert retreat two hours east of L.A.)
The hotel's grand lobby and impeccably landscaped grounds retain their over-the-top glory, while the lavish guest rooms—each uniquely decorated in a subdued palette of pinks, greens, apricots, and yellows—boast every state-of-the-art luxury. Many rooms feature private patios, Jacuzzi tubs, kitchens, fireplaces, and/or dining rooms. The 23 bungalows are more luxurious than ever, and the lush, tropical-like grounds are brimming with exotic trees and flowers that emit divine aromas. Even the outdoor pathways are carpeted, to keep noise to a minimum. If you're traveling within a three-mile radius, a free hotel car will take you there. Adding one more layer of luxury to the hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel Spa by La Prairie offers European- and Asian-influenced massage and expert facials. Stop by Bar Nineteen12 for drinks, which are pricey, or the informal, retro-chic Fountain Coffee Room for lunch or early dinner (it closes at 7pm). In this high-class diner, orange juice is fresh-squeezed and even a hamburger eaten at the counter costs $23.
For a truly iconic L.A. dining experience—or just a martini—the old-school vibe at the more upscale Polo Lounge can't be beat. Tip: Table no. 6, a plush booth, is ideal for its celebrity-spotting vantage point, though the pianist will hear every word you say. On Friday and Saturday afternoons, high tea is served (call ahead for reservations, $60).