Some places are an institution. Just by their mere existence, they deserve #respect. Welcome to LA’s Hotel Bel-Air, as close to a national treasure as it gets in the United States. This grande dame hotel is located in perhaps the prettiest part of the city. You need to power lunch here, preferably over a club sandwich.
A place earns the destination of institution if it’s been around since 1946. The Hotel Bel-Air is set on 12-plus gardened acres in the heart of residential Bel-Air. This is top-of-the-line luxury, and because the hotel is part of the Dorchester Collection, no expense is spared. The Hotel Bel-Air is its own destination. Check in and skip the typical LA experience entirely. People come here to decompress and be away from the scene.
It doesn’t matter what you think of Los Angeles; everyone at a minimum respects (but more often than not loves) the Hotel Bel-Air. It’s so LA, yet so not-LA, tucked away in the residential neighborhood of Bel-Air. The moment you walk into the gardens, all the traffic and noise of the city melts away. Even if you live in LA, the Hotel Bel-Air makes you feel like you’re on vacation.
The crowd is a mix of locals and chic tourists, but leans more toward those who live in the Los Angeles area. This is a place of regulars. People are greeted by name, and it’s no surprise that many are in the entertainment industry. There are no paparazzi waiting to take a photo either, so it’s private and discreet. At any given point, someone is talking about a movie or a TV show. So it’s also where deals are done. You can sit all day — which the staff do welcome — and take in the scene. This is my home office no matter where I stay in LA.
I like to think of the Hotel Bel-Air as an extension of my home in LA, which means the restaurant is like my kitchen. The food is simple and clean, with some flourishes of inspiration. Wolfgang Puck helms the kitchen, where grilled fish, avocado toast, green juice, big salads, and pasta dominate the menu. The Bel-Air Club is a classic, where the french fries are equal reason to get involved. Nothing here is anything to write home about, but it does remind you of home. If you want to customize your order, the servers don’t bat an eyelash. I’ve reconstructed the club with salmon, avocado, no bacon, and no mayo. It came out exactly as I wanted.
To dovetail on the notion that no request is too high-maintenance, the staff is as professional as can be. There are very few if any aspiring actors in the mix. A lot of the staff have worked here for ages, and they know their regulars. They also treat new guests with the same attention. For a place that could be pretentious, the Bel-Air staff doesn’t put on, well, airs. Just make sure you have a reservation for Wolfgang Puck, because those tables are in high demand.
It’s an institution. No trip to LA is complete without some quality time at the Hotel Bel-Air.
Q: Is the Hotel Bel-Air good for families?
A: Hotel Bel-Air is perfect for families; children young and old. Children are treated like VIPs by the Hotel Bel-Air staff.
Q: Is Hotel Bel-Air close to other restaurants and bars?
A: Hotel Bel-Air is in a quiet, exclusive, residential neighborhood. There are no other bars and restaurants around except those on the property.
Q: Is there good celebrity spotting at the Hotel Bel-Air?
A: You’re in LA, so there’s good celeb spotting everywhere. However, the Hotel Bel-Air tends to attract a powerhouse entertainment crowd. Keep your cool though. The celebs are here to relax and enjoy.