Nestled on a quiet point above the Sunset Strip, Andre Balaz’s legendary Chateau Marmont, a.k.a. the “Castle on the Hill,” has kept Hollywood’s secrets since 1929. Though someone’s always up to something and everybody’s always watching, no photos please. Its staff fiercely guards its guests by padlocking French doors from the prying eyes of the paparazzi and allowing only the chose with sought-after dinner reservations and hotel guests onto the property come nightfall. The result is an intimate, cozy garden retreat where sitting opposite an Oscar-winning actor openly enjoying his addiction of choice only reaffirms that the golden age of Hollywood is still alive and well. To connect with the past on a deeper level, book hillside Bungalow 3 where John Belushi speedballed his way to the afterlife and “strange things happen,” or room 32, Jean Harlow’s favorite- the Kiehl’s bath products and flat screen TVs are the only gentle reminders of what year it really is. Put up with dark, heavy antiques in the lobbybar and rooms that can feel a little gloomy for the cozy old world ambience and rubbing shoulders with the cognoscenti.
Santa Ynez Valley/Excursions
In Santa Barbara’s backyard and only a little over two hours from Los Angeles, the Santa Ynez Valley has blossomed into one of California’s most productive and successful wine regions. Among its six communities, the charming towns of Los Olivos and Solvang are standouts…Pop over next door to the Ballard Inn & Restaurant for chef Budi Kazali’s award-winning French-Asian fare in an intimate twelve-table setting. The pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras with carmelized figs and port glaze, and Ballard “Tom Yum”-style seafood with shitake mushrooms, leeks and gingered rice, showcase Chef Kazali’s culinary brio. There is a dizzying number of vineyards to visit in Santa Ynez…..