Click for the Video Tour of Loews Beverly Hills Hotel

From the hills — Beverly Hills, that is, to the beach — Santa Monica Beach, that is, Loews has you covered in the Southern California climes.

I knew I am in Los Angeles when the first billboard I spot is shouting out an advertisement for Prozac on Pico Blvd that runs right past the Loews Beverly Hills.

The Loews Beverly Hills . . .

But staying at a Loews hotel is certainly no need for Prozac.  Beverly Hills has a new neighbor sitting 12 stories atop a hillside with great views of Beverly Hills and LA downtown skyscrapers.  The famous shopping street — Rodeo Drive — merges off Beverwil Drive a block away from the hotel and wriggles down to the high society leather, jewels, and dining emporiums.

Beverly Hills residents don’t really have a new neighbor — Loews Beverly Hills Hotel is formerly a Renaissance Hotel that was originally built in 1964 and known as the Hillcrest, but Loews has modernized the property throughout, an easy entrance hot spot for Hollywood studio executives.

. . . . has an elegant entrance . . .

Fantasia, the 2004 winner of the American Idol contest, is checking out the day I am checking in and a film crew is catching her on tape.

The hotel is regionally trendy with the locals, too.  I guess originally the hotel must have been platted on a real estate map at one time as Lot 1224, which is the address of the hotel at 1224 Beverwil Drive, and also the name of the hotel's hot, chic restaurant, where new and up-coming and soon-to-be-famous Chef Eric Rillos offers up premium cuisine (Be there for the Friday night Red Couch Sessions, so named because of the huge red leather couch wrapping around the restaurant.).

he Loews Beverly Hills is a small, almost boutique hotel, with only 137 rooms and suites; VIPs and business executive use the place as a second office complex, I think.  The concierge, Steve, ensconces himself on the 10th Floor, and he is a delightful resource of local golf, activities, entertainment, and dining information.  He is fun just to sit and talk with, even if you don’t need his insights.

Click to Book The Loews Beverly Hills

. . . with a beautiful sitting area.
(click photo.)
Now that the Western world is on a low carbs diet courtesy of the late Dr. Atkins, and with even Coke recently launching C2, a low carb cola, Loews has taken the mantra a little farther with “No Carbtails”, or low-carb cocktails.  Because Southern California usually sets the fad standards that are as ephemeral and chimera as the next pop star staying at the hotel, I am certain the cocktail recipes will rush across the nation just like a Santa Monica beach wave. The hotel has also gone retro with a choice of high protein and low carb dinners.

The Metro Man . . .

If you are into the low carb groove then you must be sophisticated enough to become a Metrosexual.  I am caught off guard with the term, but the hotel packages a complete haute vacation around the trend. 

A Metrosexual is a sophisticated man who is fashionable and well groomed, and with the Loews’ Metro Man package you will be the talk of the town, especially if you get the Deluxe version. The two-night hotel package includes a complete transformation of your old fuddy duddy ways blasting you into a new, slick persona, and in only a few short days. You are educated and pampered with a complete fashion and psyche makeover. You will be cool. You will be hip. You will be Metrosexual. You will be a Metro Man!

Rooms and Suites have
comfortable amenities.

Transformation amenities include an etiquette book, travel kit, and cocktail shaker (and I presume recipes for Carbtails). The hotel’s chef hosts for Metro Men a two hour tasting meal, including cooking with wine lessons and mixology instructions (carbtails for me!). The makeover continues with a grooming session involving manicure, pedicure, haircut, shave, sports facial, and a hot waxing for the back and eyebrows; the deluxe package includes a dental bleaching and consultation with a nutritionist and Saks Fifth Avenue personal trainer for those long shopping stints on Rodeo Drive or at Century City malls.

Guys, don't forget your purse, which is now also in style.

The Metro Man package was designed after a research study in 2003 that found men are increasingly attuned to their feminine side — culture, feelings, cooking, etc., — while remaining confident in their masculinity, with good grooming essential for success in the business world.

The best rooms in the Loews Beverly Hills Hotel are above the sixth floor because you have panoramic views of the Hollywood Hills. Every room has a private terrace and you have specialized business services with something called Star Service. The elevators are prompted to these upper level rooms when you slide your plastic room key into the swiping slot. These floors are Metrosexually approved, I am sure.

In-room amenities include: TempurPedic pressure relieving Swedish mattresses, a TV with video, cable, and pay-per-view, two-line telephones with voice mail, high speed internet access (bring your laptop), desk, coffee maker, minibar, in-room safe, and customized amenities.

Above: The pool near
Lot 1224 Restaurant.

Below: The view
from Studio 360.

The heated outdoor swimming pool and cabana area is popular in the afternoon, sweetly located off the new revamped restaurant for quick drink and café orders. Pets are welcome in the hotel, but I must admit that the guest cooling off his bowser in the pool was something more akin to the beach.

For rooftop parties and dining Studio 360, also billed as the Ballroom, accommodates up to 200 guests.

Dining is always a treat at any of the Loews that I have experienced, including the one in DC and San Diego, and the Beverly Hills Loews is burnishing the same standard with full signature dinner with cocktails, such as the Governor (give me an Arnold?) and Money Martini.

Try the Chef Salad with Salt and Pepper Shrimp ($13) or Grilled Filet Sliders with St. Andre Onion Marmalade.

Chef Rillos has worked in kitchens on the West Coast for years, from Dhalia Lounge in Seattle to Stars in San Francisco. He was executive sous chef at Prado and Café Pacifica before opening Aubergine in San Diego.

But now he is here!

Produce your own meal by mixing and matching selections of firsts, seconds, and sides. Try the Asian or grilled Alaskan Halibut Roasted Banquette Sea Bass, or wok fired Scallops with a side of Glazed Eggplant, or wok fired Bok Choy and vegetable fried rice. For Mediterranean cuisine try the Mussels ($11) or Tuscan Bread Salad ($10) with grilled Black Angus NY Strip ($19) over Potato Risotto ($8).

Lot 1224 is open for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner.

Locals are also drawn to the seasonal cooking at the hotel, which attracts a daytime business crowd hip-hopped up for the light and classic Mediterranean dips ($7) along with Smoked Salmon Tart ($9) and Baby Beet Salad ($12) or the light Thai Chicken Salad ($15).

Other great lunch choices include Fish and Chips ($15), the Ahi Sandwich ($14) or Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($10). All dishes can be paired with a side of fresh vegetables form the Farmer’s Market, including fresh Glazed Eggplant, Braised Artichoke Barigule, or Sautéed Ruby Red Chard.

A buffet of fresh juices and customized protein packed smoothie blends start off the day. Try the Toad in a Hole, a sourdough toast stuffed with two eggs, over easy ($11), or pair it with sides of Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, with Home Fried Potatoes or Spinach Benedict, or for big appetites, order a Three Egg Omelet dressed with a choice of asparagus, mushrooms, or squash, ($13). For something sweet, try the Lemon Soufflé Vanilla Pancake or the French Toast made of challah bread dipped in vanilla batter and topped with banana and pear compote.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The lounge is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

It’s been a decade since I stayed at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Spa and I am looking forward to one of my favorite hotels as I hop onto Pico Blvd., which is a straight 6.5 mile shot to the beach, with a one block dog leg at the end at Ocean Avenue to LA’s first beach resort.

The Loews Santa Monica Beach
Hotel Pool is as inviting . . .

Guests are on their way to wellness when they partake the health and fitness program at Loews Santa Monica’s Ocean Spa and Fitness Center (previously known as the Pritikin Longevity Center). The program is offered three times a week and includes treadmill, water aerobics, yoga, Pilates, and other exercises.  Add a one-on-one nutritional counseling session with a registered dietician.  There is stress management for progressive relaxation and breathing techniques and often guest speakers.

I am looking around the beautiful pool area for competing Metro Men, and after finding only a family of non-English speaking, non-metro hip Czechs, I groove into my best Metrosexual splash dance like a peacock pruning for a mate that would have turned heads when out on a night at the Roxy. But no one took notice of the new Metro Man so I crawl, Australian crawl, back and forth across the three feet deep pool.

Since I was last here the poolside experience has been upgraded with expanded seating and new chaise lounges and more and better poolside menus and offerings. I was taken aback at the bronzing sunbather on a chaise lounge who was actually a bronze statue. There is a new poolside bistro/bar (Papillon) with warm teak wood and new music choices.

. . .  as the dining at Lavande . . .

. . . and the drinks
at Papillon (below).

Executive Pastry Chef Francisco Lozano at the Loews Santa Monica oversees the daily creation of sweets, pastries, and breads for the entire banquet department and dining outlets — Levande (getting a name change soon), Papillon (butterfly in French), and the pool crowd.

Lozano got his start as an apprentice at Le Petit Four Restaurant at LA’s Sunset Plaza. He has worked at Clafutis, Citrus, and then moved to Santa Monica for the launch of Lavande.  He also worked at Jimmy’s Restaurant in Beverly Hills and won fourth place in a dessert and wine pairing convention sponsored by Euady Winery.  In 2002 and 2003 the California Restaurant Writer’s Assn. nominated Lozano as Pastry Chef of the Year. But Lozano really makes the dessert menus shine.

A trio of chocolate desserts featuring single Vineyard, Grad Cru Chocolates made up of Caraibe, Guanajo, and Manjori ($12). Or:
  • Fuji Apple Strudel with Vanilla-Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt
  • Caramelized Pears with Armagna Sabayan
  • Banana Phyllo Tart with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch with Orange Sorbet
The attire at the Mediterranean/California cuisine Lavande is casual, with beach attire at Papillon during the day, but a little more formal on Saturday nights for the jazz sessions.

It must be sedition because after the desserts you are going to need a work out at the spa!

The Atrium streams
in California gold . . .

. . . while the Fireside Lounge
warms you with beach views.

The atrium of the hotel is one aspect that always sticks in my mind as something like the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre. With all that glass and streaming southern California sunshine it is difficult to believe that in the winter or cool spring months the fireplace in the stepped sitting area in the Fireside Lounge at the front of the atrium is ever needed.

The natural light plays well with all the real palm trees zooming to their zenith. A helpful concierge service is just off the atrium, and a not so helpful business center is on the second floor (They were rude and expensive — $8 for 15 minutes internet access — but I discovered that they were not part of the hotel, just a third party vendor.).

One thing you must do while in the area is walk out on the bike paths to the Santa Monica Pier, which is kind of tacky, but fun. 

In the summer concerts are often staged here. You can gain free entrance into the amusement park jammed with rides and a Ferris wheel and rollercoaster, but when I start shooting video an amusement park cop pops out of the woodwork, making me sign a non-commercial waiver!

A great place for the kids at the bulwark of the Pier is the seedy Aquarium. A group of school kids are delighted to be attending a shark display, but again the management of the pier restaurants, pier attractions, and the aquarium are a little on the bully side and need some lessons in public relations; I guess the whole complex is now under a corporate tyrant umbrella.

After watching a bunch of buff surfers performing stunts on the swing rings in front of Loews I make a mental note to rent a bike from nearby Spokes ‘N Stuff Bicycle Shop (310/395-4748) to cruise the miles of concrete bike paths criss-crossing Santa Monica Beach.

Click photo to book Loews Santa Monica Beach Resort

Most rooms and
suites have ocean views.
(Click Photo.)

Then it is back to the classic coastal palace digs for the comforts of the essential oils provided by the hotel and used by me profusely when engaging in a luxurious hot bath in a super-sized Roman tub, complete with a mini TV!

You know the quality of a hotel by the luxury of their towels; Loews doesn’t skimp in the cottony water displacement department.

Loews offers 350 magnificent rooms on five stories, most with ocean views. Guestrooms display the casual elegance of a fine southern California home, with an ample work desk, two dual line telephones with data port, remote control cable TV, and honor stocked mini-bar. 

Did I mention that the bath is marble?

Other amenities at the hotel include:  baby sitting, beauty salon, handicap facilities, mini bar in room, meeting facilities, safe deposit box, spa, and laundry, and valet service. Other services include twice-daily maid service; the concierge service can set up airline and car rentals; plus, there are gift and sundry shops on the main floor. Room service is 24-hours and there is daily dry cleaning on request.

The spa is right off the outdoor pool, with a small but wonderful sauna and steam room.  There are personal lockers with a wrist band key for access. Spa services are attained by reservation. The fully equipped fitness center just off the spa has everything you need to work on your Metro Man muscles!

Now where did I leave my Metrosexual cosmetic case?

 By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.