California, Part One...Los Angeles

As our plane touched down at the Los Angeles airport, my first thought was "Why on earth don't we live HERE?"...a sentiment I would express many times over the next nine days. From the moment we stepped off the plane to the moment we boarded it once again to fly home, the sun shone in that quintessentially California way.  I didn't realize just how much I needed a vacation until I was there. It felt so good to be outside as much as possible - just soaking up the sun and breathing the fresh ocean air.
We have been to LA on many occasions and when I originally started planning this trip we were going to skip it altogether. I am so happy we didn't, because we would have missed staying at the incredible Montage Beverly Hills.  As those of you who have been following my blog for a while know, there is nothing I love better than a five star hotel. The Montage Beverly Hills takes luxury to a whole new level...It is now at the top of our favorite hotels list for many reasons, but mostly for the extraordinary level of service from every single employee we encountered. 

Last week, I re-posted about the legendary service of the Ritz Carlton and how much we love it.  Let's just say, the Montage Beverly Hills took a page from the Ritz Carlton book and added a new chapter on how to provide top drawer service in a way that is almost imperceptible. I saw an article in the NY Times where Alan Fuerstman, the founder of the Montage brand, is quoted as hoping to provide "gracious but humble" service - I would say they have achieved that completely. Examples are the Montage bookmark placed in the book my husband left open on the nightstand, the complimentary champagne in every room, and the chilled bottles of water placed in the car every time the valet brought it up for us.  Add large size Antica Farmacista toiletries, Vosges Chocolate truffles at turndown, incredibly soft robes and towels, and a truly stunning property and you have perfection. The Montage is a block from Rodeo drive, making it an easy walking distance to world class shopping and quite a few excellent restaurants.

My iphone camera didn't take the best photos (I am blaming the bright California sunshine, although it is probably more likely operator error). Here are some photos of the Montage Beverly Hills...some are mine, some are from other sources, but you will get the idea of just how fabulous it is...
The Montage Beverly Hills
The lobby

Gorgeous flowers in the lobby

Pool Cabanas
The rooftop bar and restaurant

This is the exact room we had...a superior room is 500 sf of luxury!

Nice touch...pillow monogrammed with our initial
This is the exact bathroom we had (in a superior room)
Delicious coffee and croissant at Bouchon Bakery across the courtyard from the hotel.

Beverly Hills Canon Gardens between the hotel and Bouchon...a pristine little park where we enjoyed our coffee and croissants.
 We spent our first day in LA wandering the coast checking out Malibu, Venice and Santa Monica. We had a memorable lunch at The Ivy At The Shore in Santa Monica. Not only was the food delicious (just check out their amazing menu), I think it may be one of the prettiest restaurants at which I have had the pleasure of dining. If I lived in LA, I would want to be a regular there!
My pics...


And a few better ones from their web site which show how pretty the restaurant is!


We also took a tour of Shutters On the Beach in Santa Monica. It is a beautiful property inspired by a grand New England beachfront hotel. However, somehow I kept feeling that when I am in California, I want to feel like I am in California, not back on the East Coast. I found it amusing to see all of the staff clad in Vineyard Vines, a company created by two brothers from here in Greenwich. My impression is that if you are only able to visit LA and you absolutely must have a beach experience, then you won't be disappointed by Shutters. But, if you have a few more days to spend in California, I highly recommend staying in Beverly Hills and then heading south to hit the beach in Laguna (which I will be posting about next.)


The next day we drove out to Pasadena and San Marino, two beautiful towns to the east of LA.  We went to the Huntington Library and Gardens which I definitely recommend visiting if you are in the area.  On our third day, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll around Beverly Hills, window shopping along Rodeo Drive, before heading to our next stop...Laguna Beach.
A few more LA faves...

Angelini Osteria (the lasagna verde is to die for)
Il Pastaio for delicious pasta
BLD for amazing breakfasts
 Nate and Al's for a classic deli experience (you might see Larry King who is a regular).

For a little culture, you can't go wrong visiting The Getty.

If you want to do a studio tour, the VIP tour at Warner Brothers is the way to go.


And, just so you know...the Montage Beverly Hills and Shutters On The Beach are both Virtuoso properties. Book either of them through me and you will receive complimentary breakfast for two, an upgrade at booking for the Montage (or at check-in, if available, at Shutters), and a $100 hotel credit at Montage or $100 spa credit at Shutters.