Matchbook from hotel circa 1990
|Number of rooms||103|
|Number of suites||45|
The Hotel Bel-Air is a boutique hotel located in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California. The hotel is one of the ten luxury hotels operated by the Dorchester Collection which is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA). The hotel has a total of 103 rooms, 45 of which are suites. The Bel-Air hotel has an overall old Hollywood style and is surrounded by 12 acres of gardens in the Bel-Air Estates neighborhood.
Located just outside of Beverly Hills and Westwood, Hotel Bel-Air has regularly housed notable guests and celebrities including Robert Wagner, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, who frequented the hotel so regularly she had a suite named after her. Hotel Bel-Air was also the setting for Marilyn Monroe's last Vogue magazine shoot six weeks before her death.
The hotel was originally built in 1922 on 60 acres of gardens by Alphonzo Bell. Since opening in 1946, the facility, located on Stone Canyon Road, has served celebrities, heads of state and dignitaries. Initially built as office space and riding stables, it was purchased in 1946 and converted into a hotel by Texan entrepreneur Joseph Drown. Drown partnered with architect Burton Schutt to develop the hotel as a luxurious getaway for esteemed guests.
The hotel was themed on an oasis, with Drown adding Swan Lake, which guests cross by foot bridge to get to the hotel. The grounds are planted in ficus, fig, palms and continuously-blooming flowers.
After Drown's death in the 1980s, the hotel was sold off to the Hunt family of Texas and became part of the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts collection. The Hunt family primarily kept everything the same at the hotel, except they decided to bring in chef Wolfgang Puck to consult on the menu and hotel restaurant.
Caroline Hunt sold the hotel for $100 million in 1989 to Japan's Sazale Group. In 1995, the hotel was purchased by Prince Jefri Bolkiah of the royal family of Brunei, and then in 2008 the Dorchester Collection, owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, acquired the hotel. Dorchester Collection subsequently closed Hotel Bel-Air for two years of major renovations before reopening in October 2011.
In 2014, the hotel began facing a controversy concerning the ownership by the BIA which is operated by the Sultan of Brunei. The sultan enacted the first phase in adopting aspects of Sharia law to the Brunei criminal code. The process of changing the country's legal system is set to be completed in three phases that will end in 2015. The first phase was initiated in April 2014 and has been met with criticism and boycotts in the United States.
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