All this – plus a stuffed to the gills garage when we tried to self park ($25 - it took a good 15 minutes until someone on the top deck happened to move their car) - made for a rather flustered check-in. So at first, we didn’t really notice that the two women on the front desk were extremely welcoming, or that they’d automatically upgraded us to a deluxe room worth $425 (in fact, we were so flustered that we didn’t notice until yesterday, so we never got a chance to ask how we scored that – whether by arriving just before 9pm, booking through Hotwire or simply looking harangued).
Just about the only thing we absorbed at check-in was them telling us that the fine for jumping the red light was $600, but seeing as we stopped rather than jumped it, we might just be ok. They also warned us that a lot of people get caught on that light – so watch for it if you’re driving to the hotel.
Our deluxe room was on the second floor of the Wilshire Tower (just opposite reception, marked by a fishtank). On first impressions, we were highly impressed (we were expecting a box room, don’t forget). It wasn’t huge, but it certainly wasn’t cramped, thanks to the little corridor as you walked in, with the wardrobe on the right.
The room was modern (though the decor was classic rather than hip), seemed recently redecorated, and had everything we could think of at first glance (good lighting, melty bed, a rack of four extra electrical plugs by the desk for all your work/geek needs).
The bathroom was very sleek, with sparkly (yes, sparkly) tiles, supersoft towels, a proper mini TV (not one of those nasty 4-incher faux TVs) and a nice big cubbyhole for the shower.
It was only at second glance that we noticed the little things that took it down a notch. Mainly, that housekeeping hadn’t done too well – the only toiletries were a bar of soap, a sad mini bottle of body lotion and a box that we assumed would contain cotton wool, cotton buds, a sewing kit etc, but was empty except for two lonely and worn-looking bags of three cotton wool miniballs and three cotton buds respectively.
There were no slippers (possibly because there’s a sign on the bed saying that turndown takes place only on request). The minibar was fully stocked, but lacked any kind of price list. One of the curtains was wedged shut. And, as we discovered when we hopped in the shower cubbyhole, the water pressure was extremely weak. Coupled with water so soft we had to scrub our hands with a flannel to get the suds off them, it took an age to get showered. Not the hotel for Hollywood hair.
L’Occitane (yum) is the brand of the toiletries (that should have been) in the room. On discovering that we’d only been left a totally non-lootable mini bar of soap and weeny bottle of body lotion, we called down to ask whether we could have some stuff to wash with like shampoo and that. The guy apologized profusely and said he’d send up the whole range of stuff immediately.
About 20 minutes later, someone arrived with a sandwich bag stuffed with two disposable toothbrushes, two sachets of toothpaste two more mini soaps, two tiny (35ml) bottles of shampoo and two of conditioner. No shower gel, but we’re getting used to that in America.
The minibar was stocked with fairly standard fare that we didn’t dare touch, not knowing any of the prices. The only exotic thing in it was some Sonya Dakar face stuff which we assume cost oodles.
$14.95 or $70 a week WiFi, $11.95 and $55 respectively, wired. No idea how fast it was, as we boycotted it on principle.
Because we were on the second floor, we were at the same level as the roof of the lobby area below, so half of our view was taken up by the gravelly rooftop. That we could live with, and we were especially grateful for a window that opened onto it.
What we could have lived without was, as we were blithely getting changed the next morning with the curtains open (but the nets closed – it’s not like we were at the Standard NYC or anything), a workman strolling by just 2ft from our window. On the roof. Moral of the tale: you are never safe.
The lobby is gorge – very classic but very glam, with gilded walls, that fishtank by the elevators and lots of places to sit. The shops we found quite boring, mainly because, in amongst the posh watchmakers and art gallery selling original Chagalls, the only thing we could afford was the Hollywood nail file in the gift shop ($2.95).
Hotwire described the hotel as having golf and tennis facilities – that’s how we knew it was this one we were booking. It’s rubbish – the concierge (who was a wee bit
snooty offhand) told us we must be inventing it when we asked where the grounds were. Because there are no grounds, apart from the car park.
We’re also slightly concerned about the pool come summer time. It’s an OK size, but not, we’d have thought, remotely big enough for such a bethemoth of a hotel.
Incredibly varied. As we said, we weren’t so keen on the concierge – he was a bit dismissive. Housekeeping had done a duff job as regards amenities in our room, though on the plus side, that also meant that we didn’t get disturbed in the morning by overzealous cleaners as other hotels are wont to do. And the service at breakfast was so appalling it was actually a bit spellbinding.
The front desk staff, on the other hand, more than made up for their colleagues. The two women on hand when we arrived were charming, despite the fact that we were hyperventilating over our traffic fine.
And when we left, we were checked out by a guy called Matthew, who was wonderful. He advised us on Oscar traffic, gossiped with us about the Golden Globes and, as soon as we mentioned that we had an issue with breakfast, he called down to the restaurant manager, tore them off a strip and promptly deleted all $31 of it off our bill. He also advised us on what to do should our traffic fine come through. As we said, wonderful.
It’s on the west side of Beverly Hills, and it felt way out of the action. There’s a free shuttle that takes you round the Bev Hills triangle (available on a first come first served basis from the doorman), but it seemed too complicated to sort (plus there’s no guarantee they’ll bring you back).
For what we paid - $129, we remind you – this was incredible value. If we had $425 to blow on a room another time, because of the location, we’d probably want to be up somewhere near Sunset and on the east side of Beverly Hills, or West Hollywood. But then again, if you’re a shopping fiend, if you worked the shuttle, this could be a good option. As a hotel, it’s pretty rock solid, so as long as you know where you’re going and what you’re getting, there should be no nasty surprises.
Seriously, though, watch the traffic cameras coming in. We’re currently praying our bill doesn’t become $729, purely because our car skidded onto the white line. Not so good.