Beverly Hills

Together Beverly Hills, Holmby Hills and Bel-Air comprise the ‘Platinum Triangle’, where you’ll find, according to Coldwell Banker, the priciest real estate in the US – including, of course, the Beverly Hillbillies Mansion. In the centre of Beverly Hills is the ‘Golden Triangle,’ one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world, bordered by Rodeo Drive, Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. This is where you can shop for bling at Bvlgari, bags and shoes at Gucci and the rest of your high-end wardrobe at Saks Fifth Avenue. You can then skip down the Spanish Stairs and dine at some of the best restaurants on the west coast, such as Crustacean and Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant, Spago (310 385 0880; Some of the finest art galleries on this side of the confederation are here as well, in particular Galerie Michael, which regularly features work by Picasso, Rembrandt, Chagall, Matisse and other masters. Just a few blocks north up Beverly on Sunset (and theoretically within walking distance, if anyone bothered to walk in Beverly Hills), is the Beverly Hills Hotel. Surrounded by 12 acres of lush tropical gardens, it is home to the famed Polo Lounge, a favourite breakfast spot and watering hole for generations of stars and Hollywood deal-makers. The Sunday brunch, featuring live jazz, is, as you might expect, one of the best in town. Although Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel lived some blocks away, he came to the hotel every morning for a shave and a trim. The spa treatments are still popular and more affordable than you might think.

The largest Iranian population outside Tehran lives in and around Beverly Hills in an area that has been dubbed ‘Tehrangeles.’ One recent report put the number of Iranians in Beverly Hills as high as 20% of the total population. As a result, there are a number of excellent restaurants specialising in Iranian fare; notable among them is Aram (138 S Beverly Drive, 310 859 8585), reputed to serve the best Iranian cuisine in town.

Beverly Hills is, of course, home to the stars and has been ever since 1919, when Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford bought land on Summit Drive and built Pickfair, the first and most celebrated of the many grand residences in the community, at number 1143. A tour of the mansion-studded hillsides is a must. One of the best and most economical ways to explore is on the Beverly Hills Trolley, which offers a 40 minute narrated tour every Saturday and Sunday ( Greystone Mansion, formerly the Doheny Mansion, is nestled in its own 18.5 acre park at 905 Loma Vista Drive (310 550 4654). The gardens and courtyard are open to the public, and you can even rent the whole thing for your wedding.

Much of the area is familiar to audiences around the world thanks to several popular TV shows and films set here, including the Beverly Hills Cop movies and hit series Beverly Hills 90210. The Paley Center For Media (formerly known as the Museum of Television & Radio; 310 786 1025, offers lectures, screenings and special events of particular interest to anyone infatuated with the past, present and future of the ever-expanding electronic media.

For a nightcap, try one of the cool subterranean bars at Aqualounge (424 N Beverly Drive, 310 275 8511). Order a mermaid and see what happens.

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