Beverly Hills, California, has a strange calm – it’s like being in the world’s biggest bank vault, so big the walls can’t be seen; one with its own sunshine, meticulously maintained infrastructure, and very beautiful people. It embodies the phrase, “If you have to ask the price, then it’s too expensive for you.”
It wasn’t movie money that made the town, it was an abundance of water. The land was officially named Beverly Hills in 1906, and famous streets like Rodeo Drive (pronounced “row-day-oh”) existed even then. Hollywood’s earliest royalty – stars such as Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton – made their home here.
Modern day Beverly Hills has a mystique all its own, and continues to be synonymous with wealth. The city has a durable place in pop culture, being the setting for TV shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, Beverly Hills, 90210, and The Housewives of Beverly Hills.
The main draw for most visitors will be the southern part of the community, where travelers will find the greatest concentration of luxe shops. Rodeo Drive and the adjacent Two Rodeo offers the upper stratosphere of high end designers – names like Versace, Urasawa, Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, and Vera Wang. Shoppers will also find sophisticated stores like Tiffany & Co, Barney’s, and Sak’s Fifth Avenue.
If visitors have their own vehicle, they may want to take a drive through the residential section in the northern half of town, where they can get a peek at how the uppermost 1percent live.
While you can find moderately priced restaurants here (like the deli Nate ‘n Al, and Versailles, serving Cuban cuisine), most people will want to live large for at least a couple of hours, and splurge at one of the pricier venues. Standouts include Spago, Urasawa, Crustacean, Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, and Matsuhisa’s (Matsuhisa Nobu’s before Nobu eatery), plus perennial favorites Mr. Chow, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Hotels are some of the most opulent on the west coast, and are attractions in their own right. Some of the most famous are L’Ermitage, Montage, Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel, The Peninsula, and Maison 140, a boutique luxury hotel with interior design by Kelly Wearstler.
For a classic Hollywood experience, slip into The Bar at the Polo Lounge for a Sidecar or a Manhattan. The bar, which is located in The Beverly Hills Hotel, was a favorite of Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, and Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack. Imbibers among the living include Johnny Depp, Nicole Kidman, Nicolas Cage, and Vince Vaughn.