Hollywood glam with a dose of friendliness at Mr C Beverly Hills
Parked in the hotel's forecourt were open-topped Bentleys and Aston Martins but the valet attendants were masters of discretion. In spite of my very ordinary hire car - littered with empty crisp packets and well-thumbed newspapers - they could not have been more obliging when they took the keys.
The driveway is flanked by a stylish heated terrace, bordered by Californian citrus trees and English roses, where guests wait for their rides. Through the doors is the swish lobby-lounge and a very slick bar with retro swivel chairs. The reception desk is tucked snugly out of sight; they checked me in, sat me down in a Chesterfield couch and put a signature Cipriani drink in my hand. And then a second one.
Tucked off Beverwil Drive on the fringe of the perfectly pristine Beverly Hills, the hotel is close to some of the city's most stylish shopping on Rodeo Drive and some fancy dining spots on Melrose Place and Robertson Boulevard. A few more miles in the car will bring you to Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Grauman's Chinese Theatre or the Getty Museum. Disneyland is 58 kilometres away.
With a repertoire of legendary Cipriani restaurants and clubs around the world, this fourth-generation, Italian family-run company chose to make its hotel debut in sunny southern California, which brings together all-American friendliness, Los Angeles glam and a dose of European sophistication. The barmen mixed drinks with aplomb. The concierge urged me to join a "Celebrity Homes" bus tour: "The thing about LA is you know it's famous but you don't know why," she said, as I furrowed my brow.
There is a house car to whisk guests anywhere within a five-kilometre radius of the hotel. But it was the room attendant who scored the most points for me. He breezed in and out of my room at all times of the day, tidying, polishing, organising. On one occasion he went way beyond the call of duty and beautifully folded every single article of my crumpled clothing in a perfect pile.
In a nod to Hollywood glamour, the 138 rooms are outfitted with vintage black and white photography, antique movie-style lamps, chrome fittings and love seats - some have oversized white leather headboards. I loved the well-stocked minibar; the crisp Mascioni bed linens, soft bathrobes and plump slippers.
Each room has its own private balcony with fabulous views of either the Hollywood Hills or the city's skyscrapers (or both if you land a corner room). For VIPs seeking refuge, the hotel plans to open five private bungalows designed by the Southern Californian architect Ray Kappe, each with their own garden, plunge pool and gourmet kitchen.
It is early days (doors opened on June 1) and the hotel is still cultivating a consistent clientele. One day there were flamboyantly dressed Filipinos in the lounge, huddled Fox Studios executives by the bar and a perfectly groomed family checking in from New York City. Yet perhaps this eclecticism will become the hotel's trump card. Mr C may not steal all the A-list guests from grand dame hotels such as the Beverly Wilshire or Chateau Marmont but this establishment is cuter, hipper and much more fun, and will swiftly find its own loyal followers.
Adjacent to the lobby, Mr C restaurant serves Cipriani's classic Italian fare alongside a pizza and grill menu. My meal was not quite as incredible as it should have been given the brand's culinary pedigree. I told the waiter to bring what he believed was the best dish on the menu. The signature baked tagliolini (US$23.95 at lunch/$25.95 at dinner; Dh88 and Dh95 respectively) arrived cold.
But I know these restaurants well enough to forgive this errant order and can only assume that quality and service will prevail and make this establishment a keystone in Los Angeles's foodie firmament.
The poised service to the signature drinks to the private balconies with every room.
The pool was disappointingly small but the space, is, after all, probably more about posing than swimming. Poolside cabanas feature flat-screen televisions and guests can choose from the same menu as at Mr C restaurant, with light lunches of carpaccio and fresh salads. The spa also offers treatments from manicures to massages at the pool.
This new kid on the Beverly Hills block is currently the hottest place to stay in Los Angeles.
The bottom line
A double costs from $380 (Dh1,395) including taxes. Mr C Beverly Hills, 1224 Beverwil Drive, Los Angeles, California (www.mrchotels.com; 001 310 277 2800).
* Michelle Jana Chan
Published: August 20, 2011 04:00 AM