Possibly the fastest and most efficient check-in known to hotel-dwelling kind. I managed to sneak in ahead of the Sacramento Kings basketball team who arrived en masse like a forest of giants in the lobby at the same time. However, my arrival was not quite as dramatic as when the sailing-mad King Olav of Norway stayed some years ago. The hotel staff borrowed a ship's gangplank, an admiral's flag, a US naval commander and 30 cadets to pipe him "aboard".
The hotel is at the end of Rodeo Drive, the throbbing heart of Beverly Hills. Prada, Michael Kors and Versace are all within walking distance. Joan Collins, Al Pacino and a host of other stars live up the street on Sunset Boulevard.
The Beverly Wilshire is a Four Seasons hotel so you can expect service at the very top of the five-star hotel chart. The waiters at BLVD restaurant actually seem proud to be waiters rather than out-of-work actors, and there is excellent service at the pool too: I fell asleep in my poolside cabana and the curtains were drawn to let me snooze away the afternoon.
Huge, with white linen, lots of natural light and minimum chintz. I was in one of the rooms in the more recently built Beverly Wing of the hotel. The main body of the hotel (the Wilshire Wing) has more atmosphere and rooms with views of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard. If money is no object and you really want to impress, book the Veranda Suite, which has its own private space on the highest floor of the Wilshire Wing. It sports a canopy bed and private garden terrace. Elvis used it as an impromptu rehearsal studio and Warren Beatty lived here for several years.
The Beverly Wilshire will be forever known as the "Pretty Woman Hotel" because it was through the main doors that Julia Roberts flounced for her appointment with Richard Gere. But, as the concierge pointed out, that's the only filmic reference - all the other interior scenes were shot on a set.
Hollywood, baby! This is big gun territory. BLVD restaurant, just off the main lobby, is where the movers and shakers come to talk and lunch. Scripts are pitched here, agents hired (and fired), contracts negotiated, and deals done. Expect to see top producers, stars and politicians on any given afternoon. Regular guests at the hotel include statesmen, rappers and singers (Usher, Beyoncé, etc), basketball champs and TV stars in town from the East Coast. In a 24-hour period I saw Bill Clinton, Molly Sims and Sidney Poitier.
The delicious McCarthy Salad in BLVD, the superb tiled hammam, the traditional lifts (complete with upholstered seat), the black Rolls-Royce Phantom runaround, and the explosion of flowers on the lobby's central table. Also, the attitude of the staff - not stuffy and arrogant but quite humble, which must be hard to master given the A-list clientele.
Oddly, considering the size of the rooms and the lushness of the fittings and fixtures, the walls in my room seemed paper-thin. I heard with far too much clarity the final stages of a rowdy party next door. If you are planning on an early night, bring your earplugs.
If you like show, glamour and the chance of bumping into celebrities, this is the place for you. Somehow the hotel - under the watchful eye of the general manager, Radha Arora - manages to be fabulous without being tacky or cheap. There's an old-fashioned touch to the service, which works. Visit www.fourseasons.com/beverlywilshire