History

1920

Alphonzo E. Bell acquired over 600 acres just west of Beverly Hills, naming his new purchase “Bel-Air.” Determined that the estates would become an exclusive and upscale neighborhood, he enhanced the surrounding area with new roads, underground utilities, a country club and lush, exotic vegetation. In 1925, Mr. Alphonzo Bell built the sales offices for Bell’s home sites, which is now Hotel Bel-Air.

1925

What is now Hotel Bel-Air’s main mission-style building was originally built as Bell’s estate planning and sales offices. These offices were located next to the Bel-Air stables where residents and locals, like MGM star Edward Ashley, could board their horses and enjoy the miles of equestrian trails winding through the canyons. Hotel Bel-Air’s current wine cellar was once an underground tunnel for equestrians to move from trail to trail without entering the road.

Jan 1946

In 1946, Alphonzo Bell sold 18 acres that included his estate planning and sales offices to Joseph Drown, a Texas investor and Vice President of Hilton Hotels. He had a vision of creating a natural California oasis, planting palms, ficus trees, peach trees, age-old sycamores and perennial blooms. Drown planted over 4,000 plants and trees on the property and added an ethereal Swan Lake. Drown also closed the Stone Canyon stables and built the oval-shaped pool at the site of the original riding ring.

Jan 1946

Hotel Bel-Air opened its doors and quickly became a favorite of the rich and famous. Hollywood celebrities and world dignitaries were frequent guests at the young and glamorous retreat. Nathan Cummings, owner of the international company known today as the Sara Lee Corporation, would turn the patio of his suite into a work-room as many notable executives were vacationing at Hotel Bel-Air.

Jan 1946

The Restaurant boasted a natural rock fireplace with orchids, ferns, and a waterfall to bring the beautiful nature of Bel-Air inside.

1947

The bar and lounge was a hot spot for the young and glamorous, attracting everyone from Bette Davis to Rita Hayworth. The white leather bar stools and modern design was trendy at the time.

Jan 1950

“The Company She Keeps” is filmed at Hotel Bel-Air. The film featured Lizabeth Scott, Jane Greer, and Dennis O’Keefe. When this film was made, Howard Hughes (also a frequent guest at the hotel) owned both RKO, which produced it, and TWA, whose logo is featured prominently on the airplane in the airport sequence.

Jan 1950

Hotel Bel-Air attracted privacy seeking celebrities including Grace Kelly, Jackie Gleason, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe lived at the hotel in her own suite when she was married to Joe DiMaggio.

1951

The natural Californian oasis was the place to be in Los Angeles. Hotel Bel-Air was the most luxuriant and respected property of its time.

1952

Tony Curtis lived at Hotel Bel-Air. He describes it as the “best wife” he’s ever had. “If I could, I would marry the Bel-Air tomorrow,” he said. “She doesn’t ask me where I’ve been all night. She doesn’t mind if I bring a girl home. She makes my bed every day, feeds me regularly, takes my messages faithfully and puts my laundry in the little boxes tied up with ribbon.”

1953

A party was held at Hotel Bel-Air for Redbook in which Marilyn Monroe attended and was chosen as the best young box-office personality

1954

Hours after winning the 1954 Academy Award for her role in The Country Girl, Grace Kelly drifted off to blissful sleep in the tranquility of Hotel Bel-Air. The Grace Kelly Suite is named after the screen legend because Kelly had chosen the suite for her post-Oscar photo shoot and lived at the hotel prior to her marriage to Prince Rainier Grimaldi III.

1956

“Four Girls in Town” was filmed at Hotel Bel-Air. The film was about four young starlets, from various parts of the world, who are called to Hollywood to test for the lead in a major film. This Universal International Pictures film starred George Nader, Julie Adams and Sydney Chaplin.

1957

Hotel Bel-Air starred as a country club in the MGM domestic drama, “Man on Fire” starring Bing Crosby, Inger Stevens and Mary Fickett.

Jan 1961

Four-time Academy Award Nominee Montgomery Clift lived in a suite at Hotel Bel-Air. Entering the 1950s Clift was one of the most sought-after leading men in Hollywood, he was nominated three times for an Oscar as Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor.

Jan 1961

“That Touch of Mink” starring Cary Grant and Doris Day was filmed at Hotel Bel-Air. This movie was a three time Oscar nominee and a Golden Globe winner for Best Motion Picture – Comedy.

1962

Marilyn Monroe posed for photographer Bert Stern at Hotel Bel-Air, just weeks prior to her death. The shoot commissioned by Vogue resulted of thousands of images and a published book, The Last Sitting.

1965

Dean Martin gets a shower from Stella Stevens’ bathing cap in the opening sequence of Irving Allen’s “The Silencers,” a Columbia release in color starring Martin as Matt Helm. This scene was filmed at the famous Hotel Bel-Air pool.

1967

John D. Rockefeller IV, founder of the Standard Oil Company, and wife Sharon Rockefeller honeymooned at Hotel Bel-Air.

1970

The hotel underwent a major restoration which took three years. The redecoration was spearheaded by a young Cuban architect Manuel S. Alavarez, who was famous for having built many celebrity homes in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. His objective was to bring the colors of the gardens into the rooms to create a residential feeling.

1971

Princess Grace of Monaco stayed at Hotel Bel-Air while vacationing from her castle in Monaco. Hotel Bel-Air was home for the princess when she was a film star.

1975

The thirty seventh President of the United States, Richard Nixon wrote his memoirs in the Swan Lake Suite.

1982

The hotel was purchased by Dallas business woman Caroline Hunt and became affiliated with Rosewood Hotel Group. She also bought the adjoining property and added the north wing adding 30 guestrooms and suites. She had five different designers work on a new design in order to refine the look.

1983

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in Peyton Place, glamorous femme fatale Lana Turner sipped white wine on her patio at Hotel Bel-Air. The hotel was Lana’s oasis and escape from her hectic career.

1986

The bar and lounge were renovated with dark wood paneling and a cozy fireplace and quickly became a local favorite for residents of Bel-Air as well as Hollywood tastemakers.

1989

Once the original sales office, the Herb Garden Suite was the largest suite at the hotel at over 1800 square feet.

2000

The hotel coveted the prestigious Mobil Five Star award more than any other hotel in California.

2005

Fourteen rooms and suites underwent extensive renovations, with no two rooms sharing the same updates. At the time the hotel was named “Best Boutique Hotel – United States and Canada,” by Departures.

2008

The hotel is added to the prestigious portfolio of the Dorchester Collection, founded in 1995 with the famous Dorchester in London. Dorchester Collection hotels are icons in their own right with world-wide reputations as places offering the best and most sought-after experiences of good living, charm, elegance and service. Each hotel celebrates its own original character enriched by contemporary styling and state of the art facilities.

2009

Hotel Bel-Air was completely closed to begin an extensive renovation throughout all 91 guestrooms and public spaces as well as 12 additional guestrooms. The restoration was spearheaded by revered design firms Alexandra Champalimaud and Rockwell Group.

2011

The iconic hotel reopened with a new culinary concept by Wolfgang Puck, welcoming old friends and new guests to experience the refreshed elegance and glamorous charm that is reminiscent of its history and Hollywood’s Golden Age.