Photo courtesy of Sunset Tower
We recently asked Sunset Tower owner Jeff Klein to tell all about one of the most legendary penthouse suites in L.A. —The Editors
Where to start? The official description is a panoramic luxury apartment with a large separate living area, one California-king-size bed and wraparound terraces offering sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills and downtown Los Angeles. But you want the sexy lowdown, no? Like the fact that Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne and Frank Sinatra all lived here. In the 1970s, Diana Ross used it as her personal office, but Truman Capote described it best: “I am living in a very posh establishment, the Sunset Tower, which, or so the local gentry tell me, is where every scandal that ever happened happened.” We’re very discreet and never reveal names, but recently there was a chink in our armor when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie tried to sneak in for a quiet, sexy night away from the kids and chose to do so in the penthouse, or 1502. This wasn’t their first time escaping to the penthouse, but it was the first time they got caught. Unfortunately, someone noticed them and leaked it to the DailyMail.com—required breakfast reading for everyone in Hollywood. That’s the only reason I dare even to mention it.
Photo courtesy of Brown Palace Hotel & Spa
September, when honey production in the U.S. is in full swing, is National Honey Month, and beekeepers and honey aficionados have been celebrating all month long. In addition to fall farmers’ markets and a proliferation of honey-sweetened recipes, there have been honey festivals from New York to Arizona, and even a Honey Summit in Chicago.
Hotels have gotten into the act, too, the most notable being The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado. The Brown started a Bee Royalty Program in 2010 to raise awareness about the world’s declining bee population, and today the hotel’s rooftop colony consists of four hives and more than 200,000 Italian honeybees (which are considered better foragers than the more common Carniolan variety).
With an expected harvest of 180 pounds of honey this year and 200 pounds next year, guests are in for an abundance of sweet treats—from honey-infused bourbon created in collaboration with local Breckenridge Distillery to honey-buttermilk scones served during the Brown’s famous afternoon tea to handcrafted honey-lavender soap. It all exemplifies how luxurious and delicious sustainable living can be.
Visitors can simply enjoy the fresh honey for now, but they may be able to take on a more active role in the future. “Guests are on the receiving end,” says Jeff Dodd, one of the hotel’s beekeepers, who has been with the Brown for three years and a beekeeper for four. “But if people are interested in beekeeping, they can contact me to get started.” Rooms, from $270; 321 17th St.; 800-321-2599; brownpalace.com.
Photo courtesy of The Waldorf Astoria New York
The Waldorf Astoria has long been known for its star-studded soirées, attracting myriad celebrities and socialites over the last 80 years. Black-and-white photographs in the hotel’s archive show Dina Merrill and George Burns in the Grand Ballroom, Sophia Loren receiving an award during the annual Columbus Day Parade dinner and other elegant memories. But this summer the Waldorf dipped back into history to remember a different sort of guest. During its amnesty program, which continues through September 15, those who may have filched hotel property prior to 1960 are encouraged to return the items—no questions asked. The most interesting finds will be put on display in the historical Host to the World gallery near the main lobby.
“We’re using the term ‘amnesty’ loosely,” says Matt Zolbe, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “We’re using it as much for the bad-boy aspect of it as anything else.” In reality, the project is less concerned with recovering lost hotel property and more interested in documenting history. “We want to capture items that someday might be symbolic of the evolution of the service industry and build out our existing museum,” says Zolbe.
The returns thus far have been intriguing, including:
- A wooden-handled coffeepot, stolen by a newlywed on his honeymoon night in 1938. The young couple had no money but decided to splurge on a hotel room at the Waldorf.
- A wine coaster, taken by a bachelor who ran with New York’s high-society crowd in the 1930s. Apparently this particular piece had been repurposed—it was returned to the Waldorf with a note, identifying it as an ashtray.
- A silver spoon, returned by a woman from Austin, Texas. The woman’s mother and her friends were in the habit of dining in fancy restaurants and then getting their silverware “to go.”
Items can be returned to the hotel (to the attention of the hotel archivist) through September 15; 301 Park Ave.; 212-355-3000; waldorfnewyork.com.
Photo courtesy of Palais Namaskar
• Many savvy Europeans snatched up riads or casbahs in Marrakech a decade ago and transformed them into fabulous warm-weather retreats. Those who did not now console themselves by taking pleasure in the wonderful new hotels that keep popping up around the city. Palais Namaskar (rooms, from $490; Route de Bab Atlas No. 88/69; 212-5/2429-9814; palaisnamaskar.com), a 12-acre retreat in the palm groves, features rooms with private gardens and terraces, as well as villas with pools.
Photo by Mr. Grégoire Gardette
• Just 14 miles away, designer Jacques Garcia, who masterminded the recent renovation of the city’s La Mamounia hotel, has brought his mega-glam look to the Selman (rooms, from $530; Km 5, Route d'Amizmiz; 212-5/2445-9600; selman-marrakech.com), another new property. Owned by a wealthy Moroccan family, the 56-room hotel (plus five riads) was designed to look and feel like a private palace. Among the special touches: an elite Henri Chenot spa and Arabian stallions in the stables.
• This fall Paris has a chic new riverfront design and fashion center: Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design (paris-docks-en-seine.fr). Architects Jakob + MacFarlane encased a 100-year-old warehouse on the Seine in a sinewy glass shell with a dramatic rooftop terrace and landscaped walkways. The space will host fashion shows, costume exhibits and design fairs, while its hip bars and nightclubs have already made Les Docks a magnet for the young and the stylish.
Photo by Mr. Michael Gilbreath
• For many years the most spectacular beachfront house in Mexico, La Loma (rooms, from $800; Km 46.2 Carretera Melaque; 866-590-2611; cuixmala.com), part of the Cuixmala estate built by Sir James Goldsmith, has been available for rent but only in its entirety. Now Goldsmith’s children are opening it as a hotel, with four palatial suites and six bungalows. Guests have access to private beaches, tennis, horseback riding, fishing and more. Local fishermen and an on-site organic farm provide fresh ingredients for meals served on the palapa-shaded terrace or at beach picnics.
• Fasano, South America’s sexiest hotel brand, has branched out from its origins in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and opened a sleek retreat in the Uruguayan beach area of La Barra. Set on 1,200 acres, Hotel Fasano Punta del Este (bungalows, from $900; Camino Cerro Egusquiza y Paso del Barranco; 598-42/670-000; laspiedrasfasano.com) is located on Las Piedras ranch and houses guests in 32 modern bungalows. Given the Fasano family’s gourmet background, its culinary classes include visits to local vineyards and wineries, and guides can be arranged for hunting, windsurfing, riding or touring the area’s art studios and antiques shops. But lazy days and long nights are the real draw.
Bradley is the founder and CEO of the luxury travel outfitter Indagare. For more information, go to indagare.com.
For travelers hoping to connect with a city’s rich cultural heritage, there is no more expedient (or lavish) way to do it than by staying in a hotel with some history of its own. Amsterdam’s new Conservatorium Hotel, which opened this past winter, is just that. The castle-like building was designed at the turn of the 20th century by famed Dutch architect Daniel Knuttel, and its construction in Museumplein neighborhood marked a turning point for the enclave, initiating its transformation from a seedy area into the glamorous shopping and museum district it is today. (Brunello Cucinelli and the Van Gogh Museum are more or less equidistant from the hotel’s wrought-iron gates.)
The architectural landmark has had past lives as the headquarters of the Rijkspostspaarbank and, most recently, the home of the Conservatorium of Amsterdam, the country’s largest classical music conservatory. A meticulous, three-and-a-half-year restoration, spearheaded by Milanese designer Piero Lissoni, has rendered the hotel a playful (and beautiful) mix of antique glamour and ultramodern influences. Original stained glasswork remains in the stone staircases, the brick wall in the dining room was recovered from the old bank vault and the sounds of string quartets float through the dark-paneled hallways. But the 129 guest rooms themselves are furnished with sleek Italian designs by the likes of Kartell and Cassina, and a striking glass-and-steel atrium now encloses the building’s old courtyard. The state-of-the-art Akasha Wellbeing Center, a 10,000-square-foot spa with decidedly modern amenities, features a Watsu pool, sound therapy and an exhaustive list of spa treatments.
The hotel’s clash of aesthetics might feel schizophrenic elsewhere, but the end result here feels both historic and hip—Old World happily meeting new luxury head-on. Van Baerlestraat 27; 31-20-570-0000; conservatoriumhotel.com.
Chef Jean Claude Cavalera
Julia Child, the cooking goddess who took the world by storm in the 1970s and 1980s by making French cooking accessible to all, would have turned 100 years old this August, and five Warwick hotels (Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, New York) are celebrating her extraordinary life. Jean Claude Cavalera, executive chef at the Warwick Denver Hotel, has designed a prix fixe menu comprised of recipes culled from Child’s cookbooks. The three-course menu runs throughout the month at the five locations, with a special four-course offering on her actual birthday, August 15.
Child was more than just a culinary icon or TV star to Cavalera—she was a friend. He met her a few weeks after arriving in Boston to work as a chef at the Ritz-Carlton, and the two formed an immediate bond. “I was young and brave and full of ego at the time,” says Cavalera. “And Julia was very interested in the French way of enjoying food. After a while, I said, ‘Why don’t you come to dinner at my house?’ And Julia said, ‘Why not?’” Cavalera’s now wife was horrified (“What will we cook? What will we wear?”), but Cavalera served recipes from the south of France and the dinner was a tremendous success.
To continue the celebration, guests can register to win a five-night stay for two at Hotel Warwick Champs-Elysées in Paris. And as for this month’s menu, Cavalera fell back on his French cooking once again. The three-course dinner features salad Niçoise, beef bourguignon short ribs (naturally) and, for dessert, orange-and-almond cupcakes, a reinvented Child specialty. Bon appétit! Through August; 1776 Grant St., Denver; 303-861-2000; warwickhotels.com.
Photo courtesy Rosewood San Miguel de Allende
Chef Carlos Hannon, executive chef at Mexico’s Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, says his cooking has dual histories: one rooted in his culinary education, and one rooted in his family—particularly his grandmother, Elena. This week, he’s also connected to The Carlyle hotel, where he will be cooking a Taste of San Miguel de Allende menu, available during dinner hours through July 27.
The à la carte menu features appetizers like lobster ceviche with xni-pec sauce and crispy duck tostadas with queso fresco. Entrées include red snapper with potato buñuelo and veal glazed in mescal with cauliflower-vanilla puree and green beans. Dessert brings luxuriously rich artisan churros served with grandma’s very own chocolate sauce. Casa Dragones—a 100 percent blue-agave small-batch tequila from Jalisco, Mexico—complements the menu. But our favorite item? Perfectly cooked corn empanadas with crema de rancho and molcajete sauce, named after Grandma Elena. 35 E. 76 St.; 212-744-1600; rosewoodhotels.com.
Courtesy Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Known as one of the region’s most historically elite racing clubs—and for being nearly unattainable to the general public—the Turf Club at southern California’s Del Mar Thoroughbred Club exudes an air of exclusivity and glamour. Classic film stars like Ava Gardner and Bing Crosby frequented Del Mar; Crosby greeted the first fan to line up outside its gates on opening day in 1937.
Now, thanks to a partnership with the nearby Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, racing aficionados can experience a day at Del Mar in the style of old Hollywood. From July 19 through September 5, the Win, Place, Show package will grant guests exclusive access to the racetrack’s members-only Turf Club and private behind-the-scenes tours of the Paddock Circle where they can chat with jockeys and trainers before races. Participants can also choose to arrive at the races in style, cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway in a BMW sedan or convertible provided by the hotel. “Off to the races” has never sounded better. Package, from $395; 7100 Aviara Resort Dr.; 760-448-1234; parkhyattaviara.com.
Courtesy Nantucket Island Resorts
Chronicled in literature and throughout history for its gritty fishermen and whalers, Nantucket’s folkloric New England community still draws adventurers (though of a more affluent variety) to the windswept dunes of the 14-mile-long island off the coast of Cape Cod. (Herman Melville wrote in Moby Dick, “two thirds of this terraqueous globe are the Nantucketer’s. For the sea is his; he owns it, as Emperors own empires.”)
The White Elephant hotel has been a major island landmark since the 1920s, representing the best of Nantucket’s elegance and simplicity with its 54 light-filled rooms and suites overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. What began as a charming collection of cottages expanded this summer, becoming the Inn at the White Elephant Village, which opened its doors earlier this month complete with 20 new units and its own lobby and business center on South Beach Street. Nantucket designer Kathleen Hay did the interiors, utilizing a warm neutral palette and oversized windows to create light, sun-drenched rooms and including wainscoting detail throughout the hotel’s lobby and corridors for a traditional Nantucket feel. A library, fitness room, heated pool and cabanas, harborside lawn and complimentary bicycles are all available to guests—but being a part of the Nantucket vibe is nearly enough. Rooms, from $750; 50 Easton St.; 800-475-2637; whiteelephanthotelresidences.com.
Courtesy of Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Italy’s century-old Grand Hotel Tremezzo, perched on the edge of Lake Como, the longtime summer retreat for European aristocrats, celebrated the beginning of summer in May with a $5.5 million renovation of its stunning rooftop floor.
Designer Venelli Kramer collaborated with the owners to reinvent eight luxurious suites on the top floor of the iconic 98-room hotel. Each suite includes a private terrace, outdoor heated Jacuzzi pool, butler service and sweeping panoramic views of the 30-mile-long lake and rose-hued Grigne Mountains. The delicate renovation left no detail overlooked, evidenced in a Champagne minibar and a rooftop “sky bed” for stargazing.
The hotel has a storied history beyond its stunning exterior. Inspired by his European travels, a local resident opened the hotel in 1910, hoping to share the grandeur of his hometown with the world. The hotel flourished and was soon attracting guests with both the natural splendor of the region and the hotel’s intricate Art Nouveau design. Today the hotel is a sophisticated mix of old-world charm and contemporary luxury. Its five upscale restaurants (headed by guest master chef Gualtiero Marchesi) serve authentic Italian cuisine, and just beyond its nearly 66,000-square-acre park sit the gardens of Villa Carlotta, spilling over with the vivid splendor of azaleas, tulips and geraniums. Suites, from $630; 8 Via Regina; 39-0344/42491; grandhoteltremezzo.com.