Wouldn't you like to be a treasured guest in the palatial home of a royal? When Prince Jefri Bolkiah, member of the Brunei Royal Family (Brunei Investment Agency, BIA) purchased the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, they closed it down for over two years to remodel the already posh property. And, Prince Bolkiah's level of taste is beyond extravagant, so much so that today, even a true royal appreciates the warmth and ambiance of this secluded hideaway. As Prince Charles once described, "it's like staying at a rich friend's home." Photo Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air
The three most adored guests, however, are still the gems of the Swan Lake in the picturesque front lawn. The original vision of "creating a natural California oasis, planting palms, coastal redwoods, ficus trees and perennial blooms," are still the focal point. Sun worshiping at the shimmering oval-shaped pool is still a private affair and celebs still love the privacy and anonymity.
When it opened in 1946, Hollywood flocked to see-and-be-seen at the fresh and luxe retreat. Even in the glam era, Hotel Bel-Air was a haven for camera shy celebrities including Grace Kelly, Jackie Gleason, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe. It is still visited by the rich and famous and most recently, at this year's Academy Awards, some of the award nominees had their hair coiffed by Sam Kavenchy at the exclusive salon Joseph Martin.
According to Seeing Stars, "Virtually everyone who is anyone has stayed at the original 92-room Hotel Bel-Air, including Britain's Royal Family, presidents and the biggest names in Hollywood who prize the hotel for its charm and its seclusion. Warren Beatty and his wife Annette Bening stayed here after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Jim Carrey was recently spotted singing at the piano bar. Nicole Kidman and Hillary Swank were also guests. Oprah Winfrey threw a slumber party here when she turned 40, while Diana Ross recently stayed here to unwind."Photo Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air
The private enclave in the center of the property is Wolfgang Puck at Bel-Air Hotel, a favorite restaurant for all occasions. "To be a part of this extraordinary restoration is a great honor. The Hotel Bel-Air is one of the most beloved icons in Hollywood history and has created many wonderful memories for such a long time," said Co-Founder Wolfgang Puck. "It was important for us to respect its heritage, keeping menu favorites like the famous tortilla soup, while creating an entirely new concept that features the wonderful, fresh and local ingredients which surround us."Photo Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air
Over the years, the hotel has developed into one of the most sybaritic and profuse properties. As the hotel and city have matured, Hotel Bel-Air's original ambiance has remained intact. The makeover boasts a new 12,000-square-foot building with a fitness studio, loft guest rooms and the new 4,134-square-foot La Prairie Spa is a welcomed addition. The spa menu is a rich array of luxurious treatments with one of the most exclusive, coveted skincare lines in the world. Some loyal guests are pleased with the new facelift, while others consider it like a Grand Dame who has undergone plastic surgery and who may be a bit too slick for her age. Whether you've been there before or are a newbie, it is still a must-see, beloved landmark of style, true luxury and class in LA.Photo Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air
"What could be more relaxing than the sensation of gently floating on the ocean? Not much. Well, that's the feeling the Advanced Marine Biology Facial will give you. For most people, ultimate relaxation is the destination. This is achieved when your brain sends messages to your entire body to release tension," said Joo-mee Song, aesthetician and beauty magician. "This release of tension causes the blood to flow more easily, allowing detoxification to occur. As you lay on a warm water-filled mat, muscle tension is released and circulation is increased. The skin is then transformed using sea-born elements found within La Prairie's Advanced Marine Biology Collection which work to encourage cell turnover, detoxification, hydration and provide antioxidant protection." Photo Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air
Many guests fly across the globe to visit the spa and locals swear by Song's treatments, making up about 50 percent of the spa's visitors. Since many celebrities live in the neighborhoods surrounding the hotel, many can easily visit when they need an escape that is still close to home. It is so hush-hush that many never tell anyone about it in order to keep the secret hideaway hidden from maddening crowds.Photo Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air
The pièce de résistance and the most extravagant feature at the hotel is the new Presidential Suite, starting at $15,750 per night. The 6,775-square-foot suite comes with private dining for ten, a chef's kitchen, a study, a great room with grand piano and a pool. For those fortunate enough to stay in this suite, they will experience a one-of-a-kind accommodation that sings of old Hollywood glamour.Photo Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air
The most fitting description of the property comes from the 1950s actor Tony Curtis who once lived at the Hotel Bel-Air. He describes it as the "best wife" he's ever had. "If I could, I would marry Hotel Bel-Air tomorrow," said Curtis. "She doesn't ask me where I've been all night. She doesn't mind if I bring a girl home. She makes my bed every day, feeds me regularly, takes my messages faithfully and puts my laundry in the little boxes tied up with ribbon."