Posted in Projects on 1 June, 2016

As Beverly Hills travels into ‘Luxury 3.0’ – a new era of luxury lifestyle – the spotlight is firmly fixed on the Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills as it completes the first phase of its lobby-to-rooftop renovation. Hamish Kilburn writes…

The former condominium building was once home to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, whose tastes were of an elite nature, to say the least. “I bought Elizabeth the jet plane we flew in yesterday. It costs, brand new, $960,000. She was not displeased,” Burton’s personal diary very publicly reveals. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for Viceroy Hotels, which operates the Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, a destination that, since opening in 1975, has become the so-called ‘halo hotel’ among the 16 in total within the Beverly Hills perimeter. The iconic building was one of the world’s first all-suite hotel and has – from its early beginnings to the present day – proved popular with a string of famous faces. In more recent years, a-list celebrities such as Beyoncé, Ben Affleck, Jenifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as well as many others, have been sighted hanging out in the private spaces hidden within and on top of the hotel.

Its recent extensive renovation explores an innovative yet sedate theme with the introduction of discreet technology, clearly a priority for modern travellers. Having worked on a multitude of luxury residential properties, Smith/Firestone Associates (SFA Design) were responsible for the renovation and, as a result, have ushered the hotel into a new era of modern luxury. “Our intent was to create a series of unique settings that celebrate the individuality and personalities of L’Ermitage guests,” explains Kara Smith, Principal at SFA Design. “Suite designs were infused with a modern interpretation of the blend of indulgence and sanctuary for which the hotel is famed.”

Subtle shimmers of gold throughout the suites make for the most opulent of finishes, while open spaces, spectacular Alger Triton chandeliers and tactile carpets from Ulster Carpets in the living areas offer comfort and private relaxation. SFA Design have breathed new life into a classic hotel, which is no easy task given the iconic nature of this 70s building. As Smith explains, “The fusion of colours, textures and curated artwork deliver that perfect realisation of the hotel you always want to stay in, the home you always wanted to live in and the space you love to entertain in.” The mirrored feature walls either side of the bespoke-made headboards are contemporary and fun and don’t just reflect the light from inside the hotel room; natural light floods in through the open balcony doors and the views extend over Beverly Hills.

The daunting task to reimagine the ‘halo hotel’ of Beverly Hills was always going to be a challenge. SFA Design realised early on that the hotel was a blank canvas. Where it used to be an apartment building, there wasn’t much architecture to reference when it came to redesigning the interiors. Instead, it decided to introduce artisanal elements, giving the property another dimension. “The hotel building had very low ceilings, so to combat this, we tried to create architectural interest within the design,” says Smith. “We wanted to go with the warm and modern feel. The lobby features some very sculptural and artisanal pieces and we felt obliged to ensure that every surface is beautiful but clean.” For many hotels, the heart is the lobby. But at the L’Ermitage, even the public areas remain private. Early plans suggested that the check-in desks would be located at the back of the building. These drawings were soon scrapped and SFA Design proposed that the lobby remained close to the front doors. Clever use of screens were merged into the design so that the guests’ experience of checking in and out is relaxed, reserved, and – in contrast to Richard Burton’s diary – remains private.

SFA Design has gone further than any other designer when reimagining L’Ermitage’s potential. So far in fact, that the hotel now offers ‘celebrity-ready’ dressing rooms, with lighting that mimics that of the red carpet flashes and 360-degrees mirrors allowing guests can see themselves from all angles. Many guests checking in will require and appreciate the added touches. Others will enjoy the novelty of the subtle and convenient facilities. “It may seem a bit much to some of us, but in this town, celebrities have to be ready for photographs at any time, so they want to be prepared,” says CEO of Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau, Julia Wagner. “The L’Ermitage uses the idea of customisable luxury to help facilitate the delivery of that experience.”

The new age of luxury, which is referred to as ‘Luxury 3.0’ in The Future of Luxury report, is where service exceeds demands. Luxury 3.0 is born in the hotel by using both technology to drive the hotel into a class of its own, but also introducing the return to old school. “The extension of hotel spaces to create more privacy is all part of Luxury 3.0,” says Wagner. “L’Ermitage is the flagship hotel. It’s very true to its 70s routes yet it is has been refreshed to welcome guests into a very contemporary and elegant atmosphere.”

The L’Ermitage has unveiled its new look ahead of plans to renovate and redesign the rooftop pool area. A final completion date is yet to be announced as the hotel steers towards the next phase of its lobby-to-rooftop renovation.

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