Transform Valentine's Day into the celebration of a lifetime by visiting Dorchester Collection’s Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air this February 14 in Los Angeles. From winding lush gardens to private guestroom patios to intimate dining experiences, these beloved properties provide the perfect romantic setting to spend much-needed quality time with that someone special. Couples-only spa treatments, gazebo dinners for two, and fireside cocktails are among the Valentine's Day offerings at the resorts.
The “Suite Experience” Package
The Beverly Hills Hotel
• Daily breakfast credit for two of $95 per day
• $200 dining credit
• $100 credit at the hotel’s Spa by La Prairie and two La Prairie spa gifts
Suite rates from $1,400
• Daily breakfast credit for two of $110 per day
• $200 dining credit
• $100 credit at the hotel’s Spa by La Prairie and two La Prairie spa gifts
Suite rates from $1,200
The “Eat, Drink, and Linger” Package
The Beverly Hills Hotel
• Four-course dinner in the Polo Lounge offered from 5 to 10 p.m.; $165 per person (excludes tax, gratuity, and beverages)
• Kir Amour and Cupid’s Flip specialty cocktails
• Four-course dinner in Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air offered from 5 to 10 p.m.; $165 per person (excludes tax, gratuity and beverages)
• Forbidden Kiss specialty cocktail
Couples’ Spa Packages
The Beverly Hills Hotel Spa by La Prairie
• “Soul Mates,” one-hour aromatherapy couples massage and spa lunch for two; priced at $450
• “Forever Yours,” one-hour in-room couples massage and Marilyn Monroe Champagne bubble bath; priced at $1,000
Hotel Bel-Air Spa by La Prairie
• “Do Not Disturb,” 60-minute Swedish or deep tissue massage plus aromatherapy scalp massage in The Enclave Couples Spa Suite, La Prairie spa product gift set, glass of Champagne for each guest, and chocolate covered strawberries; priced at $420 for one hour.
• “Suite Serenity for Two,” two 60-minute Swedish or Deep Tissue Massages, two 60-minute La Prairie Signature Facials, two manicures and pedicures, glass of Champagne for each guests, and chocolate covered strawberries; priced at $1,000 for 3.5 hours
• “Ultimate Getaway,” luxury car service pick up and drop off from your home, bubble bath for two in private suite, two 90-minute caviar massages, two 90-minute Swiss Ice Crystal facials, lunch for two from Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air served on the private spa patio, and one complimentary Skin Caviar Luxe Souffle Body Cream; priced at $5,000
Since opening in 1928, our legendary property has been the preferred address for celebrities, royalty and the international elite — and it’s easy to see why. Located at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, we put you in the enviable heart of Beverly Hills, with designer shopping, fine dining and postcard-worthy views at our doorstep.
Classy Cocktails from Hotel Bel-Air: Tips from a Top Mixologist
At the Hotel Bel-Air in Beverly Hills, head bartender Allen Allam will teach you secrets of the Japanese hard-shake method for mixing bespoke cocktails. During an hour-long class in the lustrous bar lounge, learn the recipe for such signature drinks as Dragon&aposs Fire and Monroe&aposs Passion, a potent fusion of ginger juice, fresh passion fruit puree, Thai chili syrup and Barcardi 151 rum. (Actress Marilyn Monroe was a regular at the Bel-Air.) Other tricks of the bar trade are also revealed. Allam demonstrates techniques for stirring and garnish cutting, as well as how to employ essential barware like slow-frozen Clinebell ice, stainless steel muddlers and gold-plated strainers. Beverage director Rob Harpest provides colorful cocktail history commentary as Allam pours. Afterwards, slip into one of the lounge&aposs banquettes under larger-than-life celebrity portraits to further your liquid research. From $100 per person, minimum six per class, 14-day advance reservation required.
Recipe: Dragon&aposs Fire
1 1/2 oz. Herradura Reposado tequila
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
1/4 oz. grapefruit juice
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3-4 slices jalapeño
Muddle jalapeño slices in a mixing glass. Add with remaining ingredients to a cocktail shaker, then pour in ice, shake and strain into martini glass. Garnish with a basil leaf.
Shane Mitchell is Travel + Leisure&aposs special correspondent.
20 Best Spa Deals for Valentine’s Day In Los Angeles
Burke Williams is offering three Gift Card Packages to celebrate Valentine&rsquos Day and the ones you love. The three packages are the: “Romance”, which starts at $159, the “True Love”, starting at $279, and the “For Two”, starting at $319. Each include a luxurious selection of services as well, including an H2V Travel Kit filled with products from Burke Williams exclusive H2V skin care line. Guests can enjoy any one of these relaxing Gift Card Packages at any of their Los Angeles locations. For more information, visit their Valentine’s Day Specials.
The Raven Spa prides themselves in being that special place for that special evening. So, what better place is there to pamper yourself and your loved one. From February 11 through the Valentine&rsquos Day, at both their Silverlake and Santa Monica locations, couple&rsquos massages are done in private, side by side and include many signature treatments such as their Raven Custom Massage that combines a wide variety of techniques and style to create the perfect treatment. Any massage on their menu of services can be performed as a couple&rsquos massage. To top off the experience, The Raven Spa serves guests champagne, wine, fruit, and chocolates after their treatments.
(credit: Larchmont Sanctuary Spa)
Nestled in Larchmont, the award-winning boutique Larchmont Sanctuary Spa offers a full range of personalized day spa treatments and wellness services including massage therapy, anti-aging treatments, organic facials, detoxifying body treatments romantic couple&rsquos packages, and their custom copper hydrotherapy tub built for two. Their couple&rsquos packages for Valentine&rsquos Day include: &ldquoBe My Valentine&rdquo, a 75-minute Head Over Heals couples massage for $380 &ldquoSpoil Me Rotten&rdquo, a 75-minute Himalayan Salt Stone couples massage and a 60-minute Hugs & Kisses facials for $590 and the &ldquoUltimate Valentine&rdquo, a 75-minute aromatherapy couples massage and 75 minute Superfruit Facials for $725. Each package includes a 20-minute oak in their private copper Jacuzzi tub while sipping champagne and enjoying chocolate covered strawberries and gourmet snacks with your Valentine.
(credit: The Langham Huntington, Pasadena)
Available February 12-14, 2017, Chuan Spa at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, has created a prix-fixe menu of special, signature Valentine’s Day spa treatments. Their Valentine’s Day treatments include couple&rsquos options like their Chuan signature Valentine’s couple&rsquos massage and the Chuan signature Valentine’s couple&rsquos bamboo massage, along with individual treatments like the Chuan signature Valentine’s massage, Chuan signature Valentine’s champagne facial and Chuan signature valentine’s deep-cleansing facial. With each treatment, you get access to their full spa and Valentine’s Lounge featuring chocolate-covered strawberries and sweet treats, champagne, juice, coffee and tea.
(credit: Veronica Barton Schwartz)
Pamper your sweetheart at the Veronica Day Spa at the Malibu Beach Inn with the new HydraFacial for $200. Using a vacuum based tip which is loaded with various serums prescribed per your loved ones needs, give your partner the experience of this unique facial along with receiving a free Omnilux LED Light Treatment ($125) and an Aromatherapy Bergamot & Jasmine Candle ($38).
(credit: Pechanga Resort & Casino)
If you are looking to get out of L.A., but you don’t feel like traveling too far away for the special day, Spa Pechanga at the Pechanga Resort & Casino is offering its Couples Spa Package starting at $369. Included in the package is one night of luxury accommodations in a luxury Pechanga guest room or suite, a 50- or 80-minute Couple&rsquos Massage in the Spa&rsquos spacious couple&rsquos suite. The suite features a giant rain shower, and you’ll get to top off the evening special occasion with champagne and beautiful, oversized chocolate covered strawberries.
(credit: Catalina Island Company)
Located inside the historical El Encanto building, the Island Spa Catalina is the first-ever destination resort spa on Catalina Island. The Spa offers seasonal treatments including a Tranquility Pro Sleep Massage, Aromatherapy Massage & Deep Cleansing Facial, Aromatherapy Massage & Deep Cleansing Facial and more that aim to pamper and relax all guests. For Valentine&rsquos Day weekend, couples can plan a romantic escape to Catalina with the island&rsquos &ldquoLove is in the Air&rdquo package, which includes: transportation, a spa credit, a zip line tour, dining credits and accommodations with packages starting at $416 per couple per night. More information can be found here.
(credit: The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Los Angeles)
The luxurious Ritz-Carlton Spa, Los Angeles is located in the heart of downtown L.A. and offers all the charm and glamour of Old Hollywood. Everything, from the gold and marble cold plunge showers, to the serenity room filled with sparkling chandeliers and spacious white daybeds, offers a shimmering setting to tune off and unwind in a stylish urban oasis of tranquility. This Valentine&rsquos Day, guests can pamper like Hollywood&rsquos hottest star couples by booking the Hollywood Romance package. The 100 minutes of spa treatments is $550 and begins with a synchronized massage for two, performed side by side in a spacious and serene couple&rsquos suite, followed by a fragrant bubbling spa bath with champagne.
The luxurious boutique Beverly Hills hotel, Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, is offering guests their &ldquoRemembering Romance, a Getaway for Two&rdquo package for $599+. Inclusive in the offer is a $100 spa credit for a range of spa treatments, $150 dinner credit at Avec Nous, overnight accommodations in a luxurious suite (two-night minimum stay is required) and complimentary bottle of champagne upon arrival.
(credit: SoSpa at Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills)
This Valentine&rsquos Day, indulge in one of SoSPA at Sofitel Los Angeles&rsquo romantic packages for two and escape the daily hustle and grind. Surprise your loved one with the &ldquoSo Pampered Package&rdquo package, which includes a 60-minute facial along with a 60 minute massage, a wash and blowout and a glass of Rosé for $325+. Step it up a notch with their &ldquoSo in Love&rdquo package which includes a 60-minute couples massage followed by champagne and chocolate covered strawberries to be enjoyed in the lounge for $350+. Last but not least, their &ldquoSo Couple Goals Package&rdquo includes a couples 60-minute side-by-side massage in a private VIP room with access to the aromatherapy nirvana for 30 Minutes and complimentary champagne and chocolate covered strawberries for $450+.
Founded by Doctor Lisa Benya, CURE has continued to deliver unparalleled treatments for exceptional health for clients in West Hollywood and Malibu. At their West Hollywood location, CURE Spa is offering four packages along with a special of purchasing a $100 gift card and get $25 free. Their “Cupid’s Arrow” package includes a 25-minute Turkish Hammam bath, a 50-minute massage, a 50-minute facial and a glass of champagne for $245. The “Be Mine” package includes a 25-minute Turkish Hammam bath, as well as a 50-minute couples massage and two glasses of champagne for $260, while the “Lover’s Glow” package includes a 25-minute Turkish Hammam, a 50-minute facial, including neck & decollete, and a glass of champagne for $310. Or, go for the “My Bloody Valentine” package which includes a Cure PRP, Microneedling session and topical application for $900.
Available Valentine&rsquos week at SPA Sunset Marquis, enjoy a couples romance ritual adorned with rose petals and candlelight along with a rainfall shower for two at SPA Sunset Marquis, just footsteps from your private villa. Enjoy side by side aromatherapy massages, champagne and chocolate covered strawberries for 50-minute massages ($150/person), a 60-minute massage ($180/person), a 80-minute massage ($220/person) and a 90-minute massage ($250/person).
(credit: Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel)
Give the gift of pampering at the Spa at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel for Valentine&rsquos Day by booking special treatments available February 12-19, 2017. Along with their &ldquoSurprise Him&rdquo (60-minuntes/$460) and &ldquoSurprise Her&rdquo (60-minutes/$575) facial treatments, &ldquoSugar Kiss Scrub&rdquo (60-minuntes/$230) and &ldquoSugar Kiss Scrub and Wrap&rdquo (90-minuntes/$325), the Spa is offering the &ldquoRodeo Romance for Two&rdquo package which includes a private couple&rsquos massage in their lavish candlelit treatment room complete with champagne, (60-minutes/$430 per couple) and (90-minutes/$600 per couple).
(credit: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa)
At the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, they are celebrating more than just Valentine&rsquos day, they are celebrating love throughout February with their 28 Days of Romance program. The new Bollinger Bubble Butler has designed four luxurious experiences, expertly paired with specific vintages of the prestigious bubbly. The Champagne and Roses offering for $375, is comprised of a hand-drawn bath with rose petals and the sophisticated bottling of Bollinger Rose, with bubbles as fine as velvet and flavors of wild berries, served with chocolate covered strawberries.
The eco-friendly Sea Spa at Hotel Casa del Mar offers a wide variety of treatments and therapies available to Hotel Casa del Mar guests and walk-in customers. Their Valentine&rsquos Day packages include the &ldquoTwo Rosy Faces&rdquo package which features two 60-minute facials (60-minutes/$350). Or, try their &ldquoLove Duet&rdquo which includes two separate (60-minute/$360) massages. The aptly names &ldquoLove + Sea&rdquo package offers two 60-minute couples massages, two 60-minute facials and daily access to the seaside property&rsquos pool ($750). Each package includes complimentary valet parking.
ONE Spa at Shutters on the Beach features body treatments by Kerstin Florian and facials by Omorovicza, at the first-ever spa designed by L.A. designer Michael S. Smith. Treat your Valentine with these special Valentine&rsquos Day packages including: &ldquoI <3 ONE&rdquo which allows guests to choose from either a 60-minute facial, a 60-minute massage, or a manicure and pedicure combination ($330) &ldquoONE Valentine&rdquo includes two separate (60-minute/$360) or couples (60-minute/$400) Swedish or deep tissue 60-minute massages and the indulgent &ldquoImagine ONE + You&rdquo, which offers two 60-minute couples massages, two 60-minute facials and daily access to the seaside property&rsquos pool ($750). Each package includes complimentary valet parking.
The Forbes Five Star Awarded Spa by La Prairie will be offering two special packages this Valentine&rsquos Day. The &ldquoCupid&rsquos Caviar Retreat for Two&rdquo offer includes a relaxing caviar massage (60-minute) and a firming caviar facial (90-minute), accompanied by a glass champagne and sweet treats for a total of $1,050 per couple. The &ldquoLove will Keep us Together&rdquo package includes a deep tissue or Swedish massage (60-minute), La Prairie Signature Facial (60-minute), mani/pedi (90-minute), also accompanied by a glass champagne and sweet treats for a total of $1,120 per couple.
The Philippe Starck-designed Couples Suite at Ciel Spa at SLS Beverly Hills provides guests a luxurious way to get pampered on Valentine’s Day. Along with their normal offerings, on this special day they will be offering their &ldquoSweet Loving Souls&rdquo package, $700 for two, where guests can enjoy two baths with a glass of champagne and snacks for each followed by two 90-minute hot stone massages.
Offered the month of February in preparation for Valentine&rsquos Day, treat yourself and your loved one to one of many spa offerings at the Terranea Resort on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. With stunning coastal views, the Spa at Terranea offers the Tranquil We treatment which includes soaking in a copper tub and a couple&rsquos massage, or the Youthful Renewal facial. But, for the ultimate in romance, take advantage of the Ocean Suite with the Ocean Prelude Treatment, beginning with a seaweed wrap and saltwater bath, followed by a rhythmic massage with laminaria oils derived from the ocean, culminating with an invigorating scrub. Available for couples, the treatment takes place in the VIP Ocean Suite, where guests lounge and unwind in the freestanding copper tub overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
(credit: The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa)
Kelly&rsquos Spa at The Mission Inn Hotel links the Inn&rsquos grand Spanish Mission architecture with the serene ambiance of an ancient Tuscan wellness oasis. As part of the hotel&rsquos Festa Dell&rsquo Amore Valentine&rsquos Day celebration throughout February, they are featuring three Tuscan-inspired couple&rsquos packages include: &ldquoA Walk Down Lover&rsquos Lane&rdquo, rose petal foot bath, a Rosehip & Maize exfoliant, and a sweet red rose treatment for 50 minutes/$75.00 &ldquoRomancing the Stone&rdquo, a warm stone massage, followed by a luxurious rose petal bath and a glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne Rosé for 105 minutes/$250.00. Also, opt for the &ldquoItalian Rendezvous for Two&rdquo, which features a full day of pampering for two including a Chardonnay body scrub, a couples massage, temple tension therapeutic scalp massage, champagne for two, and selection of Kelly&rsquos chocolate truffles for 125 minutes/$475.00.
Revisiting All of Pretty Woman’s Iconic Locations, 30 Years Later
When I was a kid, our family trips to L.A. were punctuated with retro-kitsch dining experiences, including a traditional after-landing-at-LAX late-night stop at Ed Debevic’s on La Cienega and lunch at Hard Rock Café at the Beverly Center.
No trip to L.A. in the late ’80s was complete without a meal at the ultimate knockoff ’50s burger stand, Johnny Rockets. One summer evening, after popping a nickel in the counter-affixed jukebox at the Beverly Hills location at the corner of Beverly Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard, my dad and I drove down Beverly and made a right-hand turn on Wilshire Boulevard. There in front of the Beverly Wilshire hotel was everything an imaginative eight-year-old boy in Hollywood dreamed of. Lights and ladders surrounded a silver Cadillac stretch limousine as people buzzed about. This was moviemaking magic. Though we didn’t see Julia Roberts or Richard Gere that night, and though I wouldn’t realize it until years later, this was the making of Pretty Woman.
Released on March 23, 1990, the urban fairytale about a Hollywood Boulevard hooker falling in love with a lonely, tough-as-nails New York businessman has enchanted the world for the last 30 years. It made Roberts—then 22 years old—a household name, and it made Touchstone Pictures (Disney) over $460 million across the globe on a budget of $14 million.
Originally much darker and called 3000—the amount of money exchanged between Vivian (Roberts) and Edward (Gere) for services rendered—Pretty Woman transformed into the ultimate romantic comedy when film and TV titan, the late Garry Marshall, grabbed the directorial reigns.
Pretty Woman filmed from the Valley to downtown and, of course, Hollywood to Beverly Hills. Sadly, a few key members of the crew who could speak most to the ins and outs of the film’s locations have passed on. Marshall died in 2016 at 81 of complications from pneumonia following a stroke. George Herthel, the film’s veteran location manager, passed away in 2012 after being diagnosed with ALS. Art director David Haber died in 2006.
Production designer Albert Brenner, a five-time Oscar nominee, is still around, though he preferred to answer questions via email from home here in Los Angeles because at 94 he doesn’t hear well on the phone.
Brenner’s work in film and television spanned 55 years. He’s collaborated with generations of directors including Arthur Penn (The Missouri Breaks), Ron Howard (Backdraft), Mel Brooks (Silent Movie), and Billy Crystal (Mr. Saturday Night). A key collaborator was Marshall, for whom Brenner designed seven films including Beaches (1988), The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004), and Valentine’s Day (2010). He also designed a personal favorite of mine, The Monster Squad (1987). “It’s not one of my favorites,” says Brenner, “but that doesn’t matter.” (For the record, of the film’s Brenner has designed, his favorite is 1975’s The Sunshine Boys.)
The darkness that pervaded the original Pretty Woman script was completely turned around by Marshall, says Brenner. “Somebody said to Garry, ‘This is a very dark picture for you,’ and Garry said, ‘Oh, it won’t be. Trust me.’” Brenner adds, “Pretty Woman became a humorous and glamorized Garry Marshall-ed reflection of Hollywood because you saw some of the darkness there, but then there was always the lightness, or the joke.”
It’s clear from the outset of our correspondence that I might be looking into the intricacies of Pretty Woman’s locations and design a little too deeply.
The opening scene where we first meet Edward and his slime-ball lawyer Philip Stuckey (Jason Alexander): “It was a house that was available and it had the right look. It wasn’t a grand search for something specific.” After pushing Brenner about the home in Bel Air, he acquiesces and says that the house suggested a sense of wealth and its large windows overlooking L.A. were attractive.
The Los Angeles Equestrian Center where Vivian and Edward go to watch a polo match: “We needed an equestrian center and that was there and that’s what we did.”
The iconic Beverly Hills sign that Vivian and Edward drive by at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Doheny Driv? Nope, nothing special about that spot either. “Just whatever was convenient,” says Brenner.
There has to be something more going on than run-and-gun location filming in Pretty Woman, right? It’s a studio picture that made two locations incredibly famous. Brenner doesn’t quite know how to respond when I tell him that the Las Palmas Hotel—Vivian’s rundown apartment building just off Hollywood Boulevard—is a stop on most Hollywood bus tours. “I didn’t know,” says Brenner.
The final shot of Pretty Woman at the Las Palmas Hotel
The Las Palmas Hotel at 1738 N. Las Palmas Ave. in Hollywood
Rental listings in the Los Angeles Times for the Las Palmas Hotel date back to 1951. By the late ’80s, Hollywood Boulevard and its surrounding streets were decaying. An L.A. Times article from 1988 describes the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas—the Hollywood location around which Pretty Woman was set—as “a magnet for amateur pornographers and assorted pimps and prostitutes and street kids.” It goes on to report that “there are always drug deals to be made” outside George’s café, which is also seen in the film and is today the hot chicken restaurant Hot Motha Clucker.
Other locations in the vicinity include a bungalow home outside of which Edward asks a homeless man for directions to Beverly Hills, only to be told (in dialogue dubbed over by Marshall), “You’re here. That’s Sylvester Stallone’s house right there.” The rough-and-tumble Blue Banana nightclub was created in one of the retail spaces now part of the Egyptian Theatre complex.
George’s café at Hollywood Blvd. and Las Palmas Ave. in Pretty Woman Hollywood Blvd. and Las Palmas Ave. today
The seedy quality of the Las Palmas Hotel was exactly what the filmmakers were after. However, its now-famous fire escape was a main selling point for Marshall. The director, a New York native born and raised in the Bronx, says in the DVD commentary that the Las Palmas Hotel reminded him of the old days of living in a five-floor walkup in Greenwich Village. That building also had a fire escape and “looked like it would burn down any minute.” The fact that the location is standing today is nothing short of curious when, over the last ten years, new buildings have popped up around it.
But for Brenner, the fact that the Las Palmas Hotel had an empty apartment was key. (At the end of the original script, Vivian comes back to the apartment to find her friend and mentor, Kit, overdosing.)
Tourists visiting Beverly Hills might be surprised to learn that the penthouse shared by Edward and Vivian at the film’s most famous location was a set created by Brenner. For the last 30 years the Beverly Wilshire hotel has capitalized on the success of Pretty Woman. Funny, considering that the hotel appears on screen for just under three minutes of the film’s two-hour running time, as only exteriors of the building were shot there.
Brenner says, “The Beverly Wilshire is hysterical because it’s an amusement that they always say that the suite is either occupied or under renovation. They never say it wasn’t shot there or it didn’t exist.” While hotel doesn’t advertise the screen-used penthouse, the Beverly Wilshire does offer its “Pretty Woman for a Day” experience, which reportedly goes for $300,000. However, some articles are misleading, and make it sound as though suite is located at the hotel.
The production flirted with the idea of shooting at the Beverly Wilshire. Brenner says, “It was one quick question and the answer was no, so that was the end of that. Even if the Beverly Wilshire had said yes for any of it, it would have been so restricted because they weren’t going to inconvenience any of their clients.” Instead, the filmmakers turned to a faded L.A. icon to film hotel interiors.
The Ambassador Hotel opened in 1921 and was a beacon of the city before Wilshire Boulevard was a paved road. The hotel hosted six Academy Award ceremonies and its famous nightclub, the Cocoanut Grove, attracted droves of A-list performers including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Harry Belafonte. It was at the Ambassador, after giving a victory speech for the California primary in the Embassy Ballroom, that Robert F. Kennedy was shot in the hotel’s kitchen in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968. He died a day later. After a decline in the neighborhood, the Ambassador closed as an operating hotel in 1989, making Pretty Woman one of the first of dozens of films to shoot there over the next sixteen years when it functioned almost exclusively as a filming location. Between 2005-2006 the hotel was demolished to make way for school named after Bobby Kennedy. (In a fitting send off following a long negotiation with the property owners, LAUSD, Emilio Estevez’s 2006 film Bobby was the last movie to shoot at the hotel.)
Edward (Richard Gere) and Vivian in the Pretty Woman penthouse
Though the Ambassador had recently closed, Brenner says that the lobby and peripheral areas had to be decorated from scratch, as everything was empty or trashed. The Embassy Ballroom was used in the scene where Barney (Hector Elizondo), the hotel’s manager, teaches Vivian proper dining etiquette. The penthouse was built into the hotel’s presidential suite, giving the filmmakers the utmost control. It was designed in such a way that there was always something interesting to see no matter where you put the camera.
When asked about a color palette that spans multiple locations, Brenner says that I’m searching for hidden meaning that isn’t there. Mauves and purples cover the penthouse walls and carpet they’re seen in the tablecloths and napkins at Cicada, the downtown L.A. restaurant used in the film’s famous escargot scene (“Slippery little suckers”) you can see them in the flowers strategically placed behind Julia Roberts at the pool at the W Hotel in Westwood, doubling as the Beverly Wilshire pool. There was no symbolism or metaphor.
“We chose a color scheme and we went with it,” Brenner says. “It was nothing planned out.”
When Brenner refers to the hotel room colors as “muted,” I begin to question it, but then remember that we’re talking about the ‘80s. Though there’s a modesty that comes across in Brenner’s work approach, he eventually says that the hues compliment Roberts’ coloring and add to the romance of the film.
Cicada at 617 S. Olive St., with chandeliers from the set of American Horror Story: Hotel
Kit (Laura San Giacomo) and Vivian poolside The Hideout restaurant, poolside at the W Hotel in Westwood
At this point I wonder if I should mention the penthouse’s equestrian motif seen in paintings and statues scattered around the room. Brenner didn’t recall, so I didn’t broach the potential relationship between the set decoration and the fact that Edward and Vivian go to a polo match, followed by horseback riding at sunset in Burbank. In Marshall’s autobiography, My Happy Days in Hollywood, he discusses the struggle to devise a fairytale ending for the film. “I had to find some kind of metaphorical way for Richard to ride up on a white horse and rescue her—in the most modern and feminist sense of the word,” writes Marshall.
Vivian and Edward at the polo match
The polo fields at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank
All of Vivian’s shopping scenes on Rodeo Drive were shot on Sundays.
In one memorable scene, Vivian, in her Hollywood street clothes, enters the clothing boutique Boulmiche, where she is assessed by couple of snobby Beverly Hills sales associates and asked to leave. Later, Vivian has her revenge when she returns to Boulmiche following a shopping spree in another Rodeo store.
Boulmiche is still in business in Beverly Hills, but is today located on Beverly Drive in 1989, the store was located at Rodeo Drive and South Santa Monica Boulevard. Brenner says the location was perfect because the corner vantage point afforded Marshall a long view down Santa Monica as Vivian approached the store. The location also had a balcony where Marshall could film a high, wide angle shot of the store, but because of the potential for damage from the equipment, the owners wouldn’t allow Marshall to shoot from there. Brenner built a platform for the director to get his shot.
Vivian shops in Boulmiche on Rodeo Dr. The vacant Boulmiche location from Pretty Woman at 479 Rodeo Dr.
The Beverly Wilshire wasn’t the only sleight-of-hand trick in Pretty Woman. When Edward takes Vivian on a quick trip to San Francisco to attend opening night at the opera, they fly out of a private jet terminal at Hollywood-Burbank Airport. Today, the area is still occupied by a private terminal off of Empire Avenue. However, the opera house is not in San Francisco at all, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
The production was slated to shoot at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, but the October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused major damage to the location, forcing the filmmakers to reevaluate. Brenner says that none of the L.A. theaters had the right look for the San Francisco opera house. Instead, the second unit filmed an exterior shot of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Brenner designed the theater’s balcony and built it against the wall of a soundstage. A single shot of Vivian and Edward walking through the cavernous opera house lobby was filmed at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park. Brenner recalls there being a dinosaur fossil displayed just off camera.
Vivian and Edward at the opera The main entry hall of the Natural History Museum of L.A. County
Other downtown L.A. locations included Grand Park, where Vivian takes Edward on his impromptu day off, and Stuckey’s office building at 333 S. Hope Street on Bunker Hill. The 55-story building known as Bank of America Plaza was constructed in 1974.
“Downtown L.A. was a lot scruffier than it is now,” says Brenner. “It was hard to make downtown L.A. look chic and wealthy. That’s why that one plaza stood out as something more sophisticated.”
Also seen in the plaza is a 42-foot high steel sculpture by Alexander Calder called “Four Arches.” In one scene, Edward watches a father and son play in the plaza before Edward steps out from behind the sculpture and approaches the building. It’s clear that Vivian has caused his hard, business-minded façade to melt away. By this point in the correspondence with Brenner, I suspect that the arches in the sculpture have nothing to do with Edward’s story “arc,” and he candidly quells my suspicions.
Edward outside of Stuckey’s office
Bank of American Plaza
There is one instance in Pretty Woman, however, when fine art directly influenced a scene and its location. Towards the end Edward’s day off, Vivian takes him to a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop called Barb’s Quickie Grill. Though only used for a fast shot, it has one of the most fascinating stories of all the locations in Pretty Woman. Originally, Lou’s Quickie Grill was located on the corner of Highland and Santa Monica. In 1960, the coffee shop moved a couple blocks west near the corner of Orange Druive. When owners Lou and Anita Shulkin retired in 1987, they handed over the business to Barbara Knox, a waitress who started working for them in 1954. “Barb” closed the restaurant in 1999 due to the onset of Alzheimer’s. An L.A. Times obituary for Knox says that she can be seen in the film, working in the restaurant.
Barb’s Quickie Grill, located at 7006 Santa Monica Blvd. before it closed.
Brenner says that the scene was meant to elicit a feeling of loneliness. To do that, the filmmakers looked to Edward Hopper’s famous 1942 painting, Nighthawks, which depicts a late-night corner coffee shop, light spilling out onto a desolate street, as a soda jerk serves three patrons sitting hunched over the counter. Like the painting, Marshall’s camera looks through the windows of Barb’s Quickie Grill as Vivian and Edward talk over coffee. Splashes of red, green, and blue light, similar to colors in the painting, frame the front of the restaurant.
Edward and Vivian arrive at Burbank Airport to head to San Francisco
The Jet Aviation terminal at Hollywood-Burbank Airport
Other than flying out of Hollywood-Burbank Airport, which he says was a much sleepier airport when they made Pretty Woman, Brenner has not been back to any of the film’s locations over the last 30 years. And why should he? “I mean, you go on to the next [film],” he says. That may be, and just when I think the impact of the film is lost on the production designer he tells me that he and his wife have a friend who loves the movie. Brenner says, “Every time it’s on television she sends [us] a text: It’s on again.” I consider mentioning my experience passing by the Beverly Wilshire while production was in full swing in the summer of ’89. I decided to keep that one to myself.
California: 8 last-minute Valentine’s Day ideas, from $24 to $18,400
If you still don’t have Valentine’s Day plans for Saturday night, don’t panic. Here are eight ideas in California that can fill the romantic bill -- and you won’t need to travel very far.
Catch sunset on Valentine’s Day with a Ventura Harbor cruise on a 64-foot catamaran. Local guitarist Steven Sunnarborg plays onboard while you graze on cheese, crackers and a free beverage (no-host beer and wine bar available too). Dress warmly and plan to snuggle during the sailing from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Adults only, $24 per person.
In Los Angeles, take a ride -- not on the romance-killing 405 Freeway but in the Hollywood Hills or along the coast. Rent a Tesla Model S for $400 a day or a Ferrari for $1,200 a day. With either of these beauties, have an in-car picnic with In-N-Out Burger instead of going out to dinner. (Book in advance to make sure you get the car you want.)
San Francisco’s a great place to leave your heart -- or make yours beat faster. The elegant Westin St. Francis built in 1904 offers a room, bottle of Champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries and breakfast at the Oak Room starting at $275 a night. The offer comes with late 4 p.m. check out too, and it’s good now or anytime this year.
The eco-friendly Shore Hotel in Santa Monica pairs a stay with a 45-minute helicopter tour of Beverly Hills, Venice, Malibu and other sites. Champagne toast comes with the one-nighter, which costs $1,114 and is available all month. Or you can stay and elope on the beach any time -- Valentine’s Day or not -- for $849 to $2,182.
If you’re all about being pampered together, check out this offer at the London West Hollywood’s Gate Suites. A bath butler will draw a bath after you enjoy an in-room massage for two. Rose Champagne and breakfast at Gordon Ramsay the next day are included too. It’s available Feb. 13 to 15 starting at $719 for two.
Spend two nights in the InterContinental Los Angeles’ Royal Suite and you may be in for life-changing romance. The suite at the Century City hotel comes with a fully stocked bar, kitchen, fireplaces, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot la Grande Dame 1998 and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Move on to a five-course dinner for two in the ballroom while a private piano player performs during dessert. Spa treatments for two and a trip to Malibu Wines -- in a Rolls-Royce with a driver -- are part of the fun too. Must book at least three days in advance available Friday through Sunday for $14,000.
The Riviera Palm Springs shows off glamour in the desert with a three-night stay in the hotel’s presidential suite (fireplace, living and dining area, outdoor hot tub), a bottle of Dom Perignon with a dessert, breakfast and spa day at SpaTerre (facials and massages for two). During your stay, you’ll get a pool cabana, four-course dinner, car service and driver and your pick of a desert jeep tour, horse ride or hike. What’s left? Two tickets to see “Fifty Shades of Grey” at the movies. The price-tag is $10,000, and the offer is good all month.
The Langham Huntington promises fairy tale-style romance that begins with a horse-drawn carriage on the streets of Pasadena. Stay in the hotel’s California Cottage Suite and enjoy dinner, a bottle of Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and give someone a diamond necklace (yes, it comes with this package). The offer is good all month and costs $18,400.
Here are 13 easy upgrades to make your home feel like a luxury hotel.
Every traveler knows a plush white robe is a key component of a luxurious hotel experience on a recent work trip to London at Christmastime, I spent as much time as possible prepping work in my fluffy robe at the Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square so I could stay cozied up until I had to brave the elements.
This version from Allswell does an ideal job of balancing the look and feel of a quintessential hotel spa robe. A waffle weave lends both a luxe look and feel with plenty of practicality: Its grooves enable it to absorb water like a sponge to dry you quickly and comfortably. And thanks to a stone washing process, it starts ultra-soft and only gets softer with each wash.
Valentine’s Day: Love it or Hate it, Here’s Something for Everyone
Let’s face it, whether you love it or hate it, Valentine's Day just seems unavoidable. Here’s a list of fun ways for both lovers and haters to celebrate, whether it’s a romantic dinner or shredding mementos of lost loves.
For the anti–Valentine’s Day crowd, the Deli at Little Dom’s has a “Grumpy Valentine” box with a personal-sized, three-layer dark chocolate cake with hot fudge, salted caramel buttercream and cocoa nib brittle, alongside mini bottles of Johnny Walker Blue. Iconic dessert franchise https://creamnation.com offers to-go pints of its premium proprietary ice cream and luxury cake boutique https://www.ladym.com/home will have individual heart-shaped chocolate cakes in three flavors for those binging solo, starting Feb. 11.
Celebrating the 35th anniversary of its Beverly Hills location, the Grill on the Alley is offering a special Valentine’s dinner in old Hollywood style, with crisp white table linen and servers in white coats, a sommelier and its expansive wine vault.
Love Potion #9 Credit: The Grill on the Alley
Couples can begin their evening with a toast of Love Potion #9, made with prosecco and pomegranate syrup, before settling in with a Tantra Love Apple, made with vine-ripened tomato layered with Laura Chenel chevre, shaved fennel and white truffle vinaigrette, or Maine lobster salad with frisee and micro greens, glazed pine nuts and Tahitian vanilla bean vinaigrette. Gaze into your date’s eyes or at the main course of ginger-kissed filet mignon with artichoke and porcini ragout partnered with lobster- and shrimp-stuffed portobello mushroom and ginger glace de veau, or Cupid’s Seafood Mixed Grill of diver scallop, Atlantic salmon, jumbo shrimp and swordfish with herb polenta and baby vegetables.
For dessert, lovebirds can share chocolate fondue of warm Godiva chocolate ganache served with marshmallows, strawberries, pineapple, macadamia nut cookies and chocolate brownies, or chocolate-dipped strawberries and Bailey’s whipped cream. The Grill knows some things may be too sweet to share, so don’t worry, each person can have a dessert of their own if they wish. This decadent meal experience is priced at $150 per couple and does not include alcohol, tax and gratuity.
Ever Bar, located inside Hollywood's Kimpton Everly Hotel, is hosting anti–Valentine's Day celebrations on Feb. 14. Guests can order cocktails from the “singles” menu — featuring single malt scotch, single-barrel bourbon, single-vintage mezcal, etc. — along with a live rock & roll band. Guests also will have the chance to “shred your ex!,” using the bar’s paper shredder to destroy photos, love letters and other old mementos.
OUE Skyspace LA Credit: OUE Skyspace LA
For fans of The Bachelor, OUE Skyspace L.A., or “L.A.’s Eiffel Tower,” will be celebrating with a weeklong program for those looking to live out their own rose ceremony now through Feb. 16. Skyspace is offering a “Toast From the Top” package pairing woo-worthy views and Skyslide rides with chocolate-covered strawberries and two glasses of Champagne — upgradable to a full bottle of bubbly. Packages start at $75. OUE Skyspace L.A. was the setting of Nick Viall and Vanessa Grimaldi’s “zero gravity” date.
Brandon’s cocktail bar, located inside 6th & La Brea Brewery & Restaurant, is throwing a “Love Will Tear Us Apart” Valentine's Day singles party on Thursday, Feb. 14, that will help even the most bitter singles shake off their V-Day angst. Brandon’s brings Angelenos the perfect venue to ignore all that Cupid nonsense with intimate vibes, midcentury modern decor and vinyl tunes. For $60 per person, enjoy an open bar from 8 to 10 p.m. with house-brewed beer, wine, liquor and special Valentine’s Day cocktails, along with bar bites and dancing throughout the evening. Tickets are available via Eventbrite and black attire is strongly encouraged.
Mayfair Hotel Credit: Wonho Frank Lee
Inspired by Raymond Chandler’s “I’ll be waiting” character Eve Cressy, Eve American Bistro is the Mayfair Hotel’s signature restaurant, with chef Scott Commings, season 12 winner of Hell’s Kitchen, and chef Karo Patpatyan at the helm. Valentine’s Day menu highlights include Kumiai oyster gratin and spicy tuna sesame cone prime filet steak tartare with Dijon aioli, Parmesan, bone marrow crème fraiche and grilled baguette surf & turf grilled prime filet, half Maine lobster tail, truffle mac & cheese and sautéed broccolini and, for dessert, red velvet mini churros with Nutella sauce. The cost is $85 per guest.
Alimento L.A. Credit: Dylan + Jeni
If you want to enjoy a romantic dinner and miss all the crowds, on Tuesday, Feb. 12, Alimento offers an exclusive wine dinner with La Stoppa, a label making natural, organic wines on a historic estate in Piacenza, Italy. The one-night-only, four-course wine dinner with exclusive, special crafted dishes is $85 with an 8 p.m. seating. The menu starts with potato frico waffles with whipped baccala, followed by dry-aged beef tataki with Sicilian ponzu, caperberries and crispy onions. The third course is lumache pasta with duck sausage and red wine–braised radicchio, and that's followed by prime beef shoulder roast with dry-aged tallow potatoes and greens.
If you’re ticked off by a former ex, the Westdrift in Manhattan Beach has you covered. From Feb. 10-16, visitors are invited to participate in the tee’d off long-shot competition on the Westdrift’s golf course. Grab a golf ball, write your ex's name on it and, using the provided golf club, hit the ball as far as you can. Your distance will be recorded and at the end of the week the best male and female golfers will win a two-night weekend stay in a suite with complimentary parking and $150 food and beverage credit.
Valentine's Day cooking class Credit: The Institute of Culinary Education
And for couples who like to canoodle in the kitchen, the Institute of Culinary Education in Pasadena is offering cooking classes:
Prices for luxury hotels in Los Angeles can soar to inaccessible price points, well over $1,000 for a room night in some cases. In addition to chichi inland enclaves like Beverly Hills and Bel Air, the beaches are among the city's most prime real estate and hotels come with correspondingly high price points. Still, there are some budget options in less posh LA beaches for that can be had for under $200 per room night during an off-peak stay. For areas like Santa Monica and Malibu, plan to pay at least $300 to $400 — or much higher — even during off peak.
Unlike some of the world's most bustling beaches, where throngs of vendors stroll the sand, LA's beaches are comparably quiet. Plan to bring what you need for a beach day, or grab an ice cream or fresh-cut mango from a relatively rarer vendor passing by. Expect large crowds on warm weekend days and holidays. (Arrive early for the best shot at parking.) All California beaches are open to the public up to the mean high tide level, so you're legally allowed to be there, no matter what hotel you have (or haven't) booked. Many beaches around Los Angeles are super deep, so plan to challenge those calf muscles between Pacific Coast Highway and the waterline.