Mr. C Beverly Hills
1224 Beverwil Drive, Los Angeles; 310-277-2800; mrchotels.com; 137 rooms from $389 (U.S.).
There is something strangely comforting about Mr. C Beverly Hills. Amid Los Angeles's casual Americana, it's an aesthetic relief to encounter a more formal, Old World quality and attention to detail, albeit one that's been married to a modern hotel idiom.
In the lush Los Angelino fantasyland that is Beverly Hills, the hotels are more than legendary – they are part of the psychic landscape of the Hollywood Dream. The Beverly Hills Hotel is where Johnny Weissmuller supposedly landed the title role for Tarzan when the director saw him jump into the swimming pool to save a drowning girl. The Beverly Wilshire is associated with the tragic end of Whitney Houston. And the mid-century chic Avalon will always be the place Marilyn called home. But there are other star systems, in other galaxies.
From Sofia Loren to Marcello Mastroianni and beyond, Italy took Hollywood glamour to a whole new level. After the sober post-war neo-realism, suddenly the sixties were swinging and hipsters said "Ciao" like there was no tomorrow. And now, thanks to this recent Italian intervention by the Cipriani family, visitors to Hollywood can celebrate that era.
The long awaited Mr. C Beverly Hills (technically, it's located just on its edges) is the first North American establishment and first hotel venture of the international restauranteur family. Patriarch Giuseppe Cipriani opened Harry's Bar in Venice more than 80 years ago; today the Ciprani family has brought la dolce vita to the West Coast to wild applause.
Transformed from a ho-hum high rise into a temple of high design by architect Marcello Pozzi, the hotel feels like a luxurious oasis in a desert of kitsch. With handcrafted custom cabinetry, stylish lighting fixtures and marble floors imported from Italy, Mr. C wows at every turn.
From the moment you arrive and are ushered into the lobby bar for a bellini (invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, the great-grandfather of Mr. C's current owners), until the melancholy moment of departure, you are channelling almost every post-1960 Fellini film imaginable. Vintage black-and-white photography by Giuseppe Palmas lends a nostalgic glamour to the interiors. The spell is broken only by the early morning yapping of Beverly Hills chihuahuas in the adjacent residential enclave, and the ubiquitous buzz of L.A. traffic.
There is nothing "lite" or carb-free about the classic pasta dishes at the Restaurant at Mr. C; the baked tagliolini melts in your mouth and then directly into your thighs. But save room for the veal – which is even better. If the piccatine al limone is too much for you, you could do worse then one of the delectable fish dishes – such as the halibut alla livornese (with tomato, onions and green olives). The cocktail menu is quite fabulous – the house fave, Mr. C, mixes mandarin purée, High Spirit vodka and prosecco.
The tiny pool and vast cabana area make for the perfect late-night lounge scene. More Presbyterian types can swim continuous circular laps for a modicum of exercise and David, the charming pool boy, will even let you in before the official 10 a.m. opening time. Don't forget to start your day with a free latte offered in the lobby bar until 8 a.m.