Beverly Hills. 90210. Rodeo Drive. California. The pinnacle of the American dream. On a recent trip to Beverly Hills, I discovered some great finds that made my trip fun and memorable — without breaking the bank. Here's my top 10 list of things to love about Beverly Hills:
My bed at Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive. Okay, so this is a splurge, but it's the only hotel right in the heart of Rodeo Drive and puts you in the center of what makes Beverly Hills so exciting. My room looked out on Rodeo Drive — I had a view of Prada, Gucci, Fendi, and beneath my window was Michael Kors and Valentino. But the bed was what made this a top 10 hit. I found this to be one of the best beds I've ever slept in, and one I did not want to get out of the next morning. But I did manage to drag myself out to explore the shops lining the streets just outside. Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive, 360 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. 310-273-0300. http://www.luxehotelrodeodrive.com.
Chocolate covered marshmallows from Edelweiss Chocolates. This small chocolatier has been in business since the early 1940s and serves chocolate to some of the most famous people in the world. All of the chocolates are handmade and hand dipped. Watching the women in back hand dip each piece was no different than watching a potter create a clay masterpiece. But, you get the pleasure of eating these masterpieces. And it is a pleasure. The marshmallows are from a secret recipe passed down from the shop's original owner. I recommend the dark chocolate-covered marshmallows. You can buy a one-pound box of them online for $35 if you're not going to be in Beverly Hills anytime soon. Edelweiss Chocolates, 444 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. 310-275-0341. http://www.edelweisschocolates.com.
Squid ink noodles from The Blvd at The Beverly Wilshire. This recipe, Black Fideua, is one of Chef Perfecto Rocher's specialties at The Blvd. It has spot prawns, calamari, Fideus noodles, and a honey aïoli, all cooked in squid ink to give it the black color and a unique flavor. Combine it with the elegant setting of The Blvd in The Beverly Wilshire, and you'll have an evening to remember. You can either dine indoors where you can take in the 18′ onyx bar, or sit outdoors on the patio to people watch on one of the most classic street corners in Beverly Hills. Dinner is served daily from 5 – 11 p.m. The Blvd at The Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. 310-274-2851. http://www.fourseasons.com/beverlywilshire/dining/the_blvd/.
A favorite pair of shoes at Gucci on Rodeo Drive. So, this isn't really going easy on the bank if you buy them, but everyone has to do something special every now and then. Right? And if you can't afford to buy, window shopping is cheap. Walk up and down Rodeo Drive until you find the store that has just the thing you think you must have. You'll know it when you find it. Mine was a pair of Gucci heels. They would only set me back $525. Hey, they have a gorgeous carved bamboo heel. That counts for something, don't you think? Okay, so I decided to limit my shopping to window shopping on this trip. Maybe next time.
The slightly used (pre-owned) designer bags lined up on shelves at Fashionphile. I thought I'd surely be able to find something at Fashionphile, but I discovered that “used” in Beverly Hills doesn't mean the same thing as “used” anywhere else in the world. Fashionphile has created an incredible business for people who seriously buy and sell collectible designer handbags. If you really want to get your hands on that Prada you missed last season, you can probably find it here. You can shop online or you can visit the store just a half block off Rodeo Drive. Fashionphile, 9551 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. http://www.fashionphile.com.
Ghost hunting at Greystone Mansion. Greystone Mansion is an incredible stone structure up on a hillside overlooking Beverly Hills. It is owned by the City of Beverly Hills and has been the setting for numerous films and television shows. You can tour the grounds during the day, there are several special events held there during the year, and you can arrange a private tour of the mansion's interior. There is an unsolved murder of the builder's son, Ned Doheny, that still haunts the mansion today. Greystone Mansion, 905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills. 310-285-6830. http://www.greystonemansion.org/.
Sprinkles Cupcakes. Need I say more? A cupcake from Sprinkles is unlike a cupcake from anywhere else. When Candace Nelson started the first Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills, she created a huge cupcake craze across the country, but there's something special about this cupcake shop. It's a little bit about the smell of the cupcakes, a little bit about the classic design, a little bit about the energy of the staff, and a whole lot about the great simple taste of the cupcakes. They offer a variety of flavors, some of which change each day, but my favorite is still that classic Red Velvet Cupcake. Sprinkles Cupcakes, 9635 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. 310-274-8765. http://www.sprinkles.com.
Rose Macaron with Rose Ganache and Strawberry Jam from Paulette's Macarons. I had no idea how much I love macarons until I discovered Paulette's. These are not coconut macaroons, but the traditional French macarons. A lovely little almond cookie – well, two almond cookies – with a creamy ganache between them. Paulette's offers a wonderful and colorful assortment of macarons. The great thing is that you really don't have to choose. You can select several different ones, mix and match your favorites, and take them home with you. They even ship across the country! Paulette's Macarons, 9466 Charleville Blvd at Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. 310-275-0023. http://www.paulettemacarons.com/.
Watching tourists pose with the mannequins outside the Prada store on Rodeo Drive. The entrance to Prada has to be one of the most intriguing entrances to any retail building in the world. (see the photo) It was great fun to sit in my hotel room about 3 floors above Rodeo Drive and watch the tourists make their way up the street and stop to pose with the mannequins. Yes, I took my turn and posed there as well. It was fascinating to look at the evolution of clothing in our society. The way the mannequins display the styles out front and in the level underneath the sidewalk is innovative. There's no wonder Prada is a leader in the fashion world. Prada, 343 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. 310-278-8661. http://www.prada.com/en.
- Driving through the residential streets, up Rodeo Drive north toward Sunset, or in the residential streets surrounding Rodeo Drive. It's just fascinating to wind in and out of the houses, watching the people come and go, looking at the cars, watching life behind the big iron gates. It's the Yankee version of Royal-watching. Cost? Free. Entertainment value? Priceless.