Originally opened in 1946 as a luxury hideaway for the rich and famous, the Hotel Bel-Air’s brilliance as a Hollywood icon has, if anything, increased since its renovation, finished in 2011, by the renowned design teams at Alexandra Champalimaud and the Rockwell Group. Surrounded by 12 acres of fragrant, exotic gardens, the decadent rooms have housed everyone from Grace Kelly to Oprah, from Richard Nixon to the Prince of Wales, all of whom sought serene privacy—and the staff’s renowned discretion. Its iconic oval pool—with umbrella-shaded loungers and “pop-up refreshments” like push-pops and frozen grapes in the summer months—sits on the site of the estate’s former horse-riding ring, and is still as much a place to see and be seen as the famous terrace restaurant, now run by Wolfgang Puck. Naturally, each of the rooms and suites is more luxurious than most private homes, decked out in limestone, marble, and Hollywood Golden Age–inspired decor; some touches can feel a bit kitsch (not everyone’s a fan of swan-shaped butter), but it all contributes to the pervasive feeling of having stepped back in time.

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