DescriptionNovelist Gore Vidal once observed, “Nobody is allowed to fail within a 2-mile radius of the Beverly Hills Hotel.” But fail they did repeatedly for more than half a century before entrepreneurs succeeded in turning El Rodeo de las Aguas (“The Gathering of the Waters”) from a cattle ranch to a collection of lima bean fields to a real estate development. Even the hotel, destined to become the city’s iconic “Pink Palace,” drew little attention when Burton Green’s fledgling development company first built it to promote Beverly Hills in 1912.
Not until Hollywood royalty took up residence in 1919 in the persons of silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks—and their fabled Pickfair mansion on Beverly Boulevard—did the city begin to attract Hollywood’s glitterati. The Beverly Hills Hotel’s luxurious bungalows and legendary Polo Lounge played host to the likes of Greta Garbo and Howard Hughes, while the upstart Beverly Wilshire Hotel (built in 1928) boasted Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor among its illustrious guests. Such TV shows as “The Jack Benny Program,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” and more recently “Beverly Hills 90210” promoted the town to the world at large.
For a taste of Beverly Hills elegance—and an alternative to the ubiquitous tours of stars’ homes—visit Virginia Robinson Gardens and its historic estate at 1008 Elden Way. Built in 1911 for the owner of Robinsons department stores (now Robinsons-May), the 6,000-square-foot Mediterranean Revival-style mansion was one of the first homes in the city; it’s surrounded by 6 acres of landscaped grounds, a tropical oasis of manicured lawns, statuary, fountains and a rose garden. Guided tours are available Tuesday through Saturday by reservation only, preferably two weeks in advance; phone (310) 550-2087.
Greystone Mansion and Park, 905 Loma Vista Dr., has served as a location for dozens of films. Constructed in 1928 by oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny for his ill-fated son Ned—at the then-extravagant cost of $3.1 million—the estate is now an 18.5-acre public park, its spacious gardens open daily; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Events include guided walking tours, jazz concerts in the mansion’s inner courtyard, afternoon teas on the terrace and even a theatrical experience relating the tragic saga of the Doheny family; phone (310) 285-6830.
Visitor InfoBeverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau 9400 S. Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 102 BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90210. Phone:(310)248-1015 or (800)345-2210
Self-guiding toursDowntown Beverly Hills calls itself “the ultimate walking village,” and with diagonal crosswalks it’s hard to argue. You’ll find historical commentary and self-guiding walking tour information in the free visitor’s guide available from the visitors bureau.
ShoppingRodeo Drive, the best known shopping street west of Manhattan, is the nucleus of a glitzy retail district dubbed the Golden Triangle, bordered by Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards. Rodeo’s mix of clothing boutiques, jewelry stores, salons, galleries and specialty shops is so far upscale it’s nearly off the scale. On decidedly less formal Beverly Drive a block east, you can graze and stargaze in the midst of your shopping spree at Nate ‘n Al’s deli without busting your wallet.
Things to SeeBeverly Hills Trolley Tours
Franklin Canyon Park