Few hotels in the world are as iconic or legendary as the Hotel Bel-Air. The Los Angeles property first opened its doors on 24 August 1946. Since its opening, the iconic property remains at the heart of the Bel Air community and continues to welcome world travellers and Hollywood elite.

In celebration of its 75th anniversary, the hotel will be featuring special activities and offerings throughout the month of August for guests and locals alike. But before that, the story on how this legendary property came to be is something worth exploring.

The Rise Of Bel-Air

Hotel Bel-Air’s story begins in the 1920s with the very creation of Bel Air itself, LA’s ultimate community of exclusivity. The hotel grew from American multi-millionaire and real estate developer, Alphonzo Bell’s original vision to turn the best-situated land in Los Angeles into estates for ‘the kind of people you would like to know and have as your neighbours’. That vision lives on even today.

Hotel Bel-Air
Bel-Air Hotel, oval pool area in 1951

Bel Air officially opened in October 1922 with uniformed guards at the gate, a first for any local community. These powerful iron gates still mark an impressive entry just north of the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Bel Air Road and celebrate a moment where you leave the rest of the world behind and enter the exclusivity of the neighbourhood.

In 1946, Texan hotel entrepreneur, Joseph Drown bought 18 acres from Bell, including the estate’s mission-style buildings, and immediately began transforming the site into an elegant and secluded hotel. He restored the property and added a series of new guest rooms before the Hotel Bel-Air officially opened on August 24, 1946.

The Hotel For Hollywood Elites

Throughout the past 75 years, the property has attracted Hollywood A-listers and notables from around the world. Marilyn Monroe did her last photo shoot at the hotel; Grace Kelly celebrated her Oscar win in one of it suites. Elizabeth Taylor lived at the hotel while she was married to Nicky Hilton. These stories go on and on.

Bel-Air hotel Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe posing at the hotel’s pool

“The hotel debuted as an instant classic, and it has only become greater over time,” says Denise Flanders, General Manager. “What makes the hotel magical is in part its heritage-driven allure, but also in large part the caring service of our employees. Our employees’ ability to give each and every one of our guests a truly unforgettable experience has allowed Hotel Bel-Air to bridge generations for many decades and remain as relevant as ever.”

Guests who visit the hotel throughout the month of August will be able to relive some of the property’s rich history via the Archival Photo Exhibition. Held from 1-30 August, the hotel’s incredible story is retold through 14 archival photographs, which capture the moments that have shaped its legacy.

A Toast To Hotel Bel-Air

The 75th anniversary celebrations also stretch beyond just memorable photos. Guests are also invited for anniversary libations at the hotel’s Bar & Lounge. Here, they can toast to 75 years of legendary history by sampling one of several specially created cocktails created specifically for the grand occasion.

This includes the Bel-Air 75, made with gin, elderflower, fresh lemon, and champagne as well as the Alphonzo Bell – rum, fresh apple, sugar, and bitters. Guests can also partake in the time-honoured tradition of afternoon tea at the property.

bel-air hotel overview
A bird’s eye view of the property today

Hotel Bel-Air’s Classic Afternoon Tea held at Wolfgang Puck features savoury bites, fresh baked scones with homemade preserves and a selection of sweets, accompanying a choice of more than 15 loose leaf teas.

In celebration of the hotel’s special milestone, the property is also introducing a 75 Years of Hotel Bel-Air Bliss package, which includes special spa treatments. Guests can also immerse themselves in an evening of stargazing.

The Bel-Air Under the Stars Anniversary Edition includes a serving of the anniversary cocktails and a light dinner. Thereafter, they can end the evening toasting marshmallows over the hotel’s private fire pit under the Los Angeles sky.

(Images: Hotel Bel-Air)

written by.
Richard Augustin
Former chef turned writer; Richard has tip-toed around the publishing industry for two decades. When not busy chasing deadlines, you can still find him experimenting with recipes in the kitchen.

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