LOS ANGELES On a quiet Beverly Hills street, within the white stucco walls of a classic 1935 Spanish colonial duplex, are the retro-cool CANON VILLAS. Interiors of the two 2,500-square-foot floor-through apartments are tricked out in designer Kelly Wearstler's love-it-or-loathe-it nouveau-New Frontier style, with a dash of seventies kitsch. The effect is almost camp—how else to interpret juxtapositions like a chrome-trimmed fourposter and a Persia-via-Palm Springs camel sculpture cooling its hooves on the coffee table? Still, the disparate influences are pulled together masterfully, the structure's humble bones temper the naked acts of design aggression, and there's really nothing similar available to visitors short of house-sitting for an acquaintance whose taste you can't fathom but learn to love anyway. The villas, part of the Avalon hotel across the street, rent for $9,000 a month and are reserved well in advance. At 9400 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills; 310-277-5200; fax 310-277-1252; www.avalon-hotel.com.
SAN FRANCISCO Some of the most polished accommodations in the city are set in a sleek new modernist building on the edge of the Financial District. At the FOUR SEASONS the dramatically lit public rooms as well as the 277 guestrooms are done in taupe-on-taupe, enhanced with a deftly edited collection of contemporary art. At the sunny restaurant and bar, the panorama of urban bustle outside the windows serves as a counterpoint to refined interior details like cherry-wood columns, Norwegian granite counters, and Frette linens. Chef Christophe Guibert (formerly of Paris' George V) has created a pared-down menu of seasonal offerings like a buttery pot-au-feu of vegetables, a tender veal chop with white-truffle risotto and asparagus, and roasted lobster with chanterelles. Among the hotel's impressive amenities is the adjacent 100,000-square-foot fitness center and a full-service spa. The Presidential Suite ($3,900) is a three-bedroom aerie with panoramic views. Rooms from $329, suites from $650. At 757 Market St.; 415-633-3000; fax 415-633-3001; www.fourseasons.com.
DIANE DORRANS SAEKS
WINE COUNTRY After a number of important changes since its unpropitious start last winter, HOTEL HEALDSBURG seems to be on track as this rustic-chic town's most sophisticated lodgings. The decor is simple, cool and modern; bedrooms are furnished in teak, with pale walls, white goose-down comforters, Tibetan rugs, and French doors opening onto a balcony. Corner suite 317 offers both mountain views and a look into the town square, which the Healdsburg shares with the Victorian bandstand. The restaurant, Dry Creek Kitchen, is the creation of noted chef Charlie Palmer (a partner in the hotel) and executive chef Mark Purdy. Focusing on local ingredients, the pair have crafted a superb menu of dishes like Tomalis Bay Miyagi oysters with tart Pinot Blanc mignonette, and delicately flavored Pacific halibut steamed with aromatic herbs and spices. The wine list: strictly Sonoma. Rooms from $255. At 25 Matheson St., Healdsburg; 800-889-7188, 707-431-2800; fax 707-431-0414; www.hotelhealdsburg.com.
MARTINI HOUSE At this recent addition to the Napa Valley, restaurateur-designer Pat Kuleto (San Francisco's Farrallon, Boulevard, Postrio) has orchestrated such touches as a handcrafted iron stairway, a wall of winemaking memorabilia, and Native American rugs. Chef Todd Humphries' seasonal menus center on local produce, farm-raised meats, and wild game, featuring dishes like crisp veal sweetbreads with sorrel purée and shaved apples, and seared mahimahi with creamed spinach and saffron-poached mussels. Among dessert offerings are Meyer lemon torte with crème fraîche ice cream and huckleberry compote from pastry chef Ethan Howard (Payard in Manhattan, French Laundry) and a daily selection of eight artisanal cheeses. The vast wine list includes many obscure, artisanal, cult, and classic labels. Insider tip: For a quiet winetasting tête-à-tête or an impromptu early dinner, take the side entrance down to the brick-walled Cellar bar; both the all-day bar menu and the restaurant menu are served in this clubby, firelit space where you can rub shoulders with star vintners. Dinner, $65. At 1245 Spring St., St. Helena; 707-963-2233; fax 707-967-9237.
PALM SPRINGS Fans of Le Bernardin's soigné seafood can now catch it at La Quinta, the grande dame of Palm Springs resorts. A vaulted, wood-beamed ceiling, whitewashed walls, and woven-leather chairs give AZUR BY LE BERNARDIN's spacious dining room a relaxed Western elegance. But guiding lights Maguy Le Coze and chef Eric Ripert have taken pains to maintain the standards of the four-star Manhattan flagship. Many of its signature dishes—poached skate wing with brown butter and toasted hazelnuts, for example, and marinated fluke in lime, ginger, and ponzu—appear on the three-course prix fixe dinner menu ($60) and the chef's tasting menu ($95). But here you'll also find steak, a nod to local tastes. Chef de cuisine Jasper Schneider, who trained at Le Bernardin, has also invented new dishes. His creations include black bass with olive oil, fennel pollen, poached baby tomatoes with Meyer lemon juice, and Maine diver scallops with mushroom syrup and cured shaved foie gras. But, Schneider notes, "nothing goes on the menu without Eric's approval." Azur, which flies fresh fish in daily, is already living up to its pedigree and, with Ripert and other key New York personnel making monthly visits, should continue to make its parent proud. Closed July-August. At 49-499 Eisenhower Dr., La Quinta; 760-564-4111; fax 760-777-4918.
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