Hotel Bel-Air, Just Your Average Neighborhood Watering Hole

Close friends of ours live in Bel-Air. I know. Before you conjur up images of the Fresh Prince, you can actually rent in Bel-Air (hashtag—slummingit). Even though Bel-Air is situated in the middle of the city, it still feels far removed from everything else. So, like the rest of us mere peasants, they too need a local bar. It just happens to be the famed five star Hotel Bel-Air, which my friend Jason described to me as “just your average neighborhood watering hole.” And this is why we get along so well. The Hotel Bel-Air reopened about a year ago as a Dorchester property after a two year renovation and it’s pretty spectacular. It’s lost it’s uber stuffy old school country club vibe (guys were required to wear a jacket in the bar and if you didn’t, they gave you one) and now it feels like it should—a cool, luxurious hideaway where you can escape from the madness that is L.A.—if only for a few hours.

Hotel Bel Air Sign


We met up last night for dinner and drinks in the Bar & Lounge. There’s a full menu by Wolfgang Puck and it’s full service, so it’s a (relatively) affordable, relaxed place to hang with friends on any given Sunday night…

Molly and Jamie Bar

Jamie and I love a well mixed cocktail at a well designed bar. Call us high maintenance.

Spiced Rum

This little tea pot caught my eye as soon as we walked in, which I was told was full of spiced rum.


Past the bar is the lounge, where a pianist sets the mood.


My favorite detail was the Limited Edition black and white Norman Seeff celebrity portraits that demanded your attention upon entry, giving the modern decor a timeless backdrop.

Dave and Jamie

Dave beer


The menu is more casual than the main dining room—burgers (my choice), pizzas as well as a nightly special…

Fried Chicken

Which tonight was fried chicken and biscuits with sausage gravy. Jason ordered this, but of course I had to sample it…I am, after all, Southern. And, I approved.

Jamie and Jason

Dave dancing

After dinner, we decided to have a little nightcap on the patio outside (because today was a holiday…so why not?).

Jason and Waitress

Our waitress was awesome—entertaining us with stories about working in Vegas (then we all decided we were in the wrong profession).

Molly outside

Molly and Dave

Bel Air Card

And for those who actually live in the neighborhood, an exclusive Bel-Air card is delivered to your door that gets you 15% off everything and free valet (normally a staggering $18). It’s good to have friends in high places.

Hotel Bel-Air.  701 Stone Canyon Rd.  Los Angeles, CA 90077.  310-472-1211

3 thoughts on “Hotel Bel-Air, Just Your Average Neighborhood Watering Hole”

  1. We live in the area as well and I wish I could share your enthusiasm… I so preferred the bar at Bel Air pre-refurb. Sure, it’s everything you say it is now, but it just doesn’t feel that special anymore. It is truly just another watering hole (and agreed, the cocktails are deeeee-lish) – but it’s no longer the social center of one of the most beautiful hotels in the world (and I am a sucker for well-done hunt club). Oh, well.
    p.s. I am very nervous about what this same group is currently doing to my very favorite place… The Polo Lounge. Looking forward to your thoughts on that “makeover” as well.

  2. Thanks for you comment! I totally understand what you mean. It does feel more relaxed, and less exclusive now. I think I was turned off years ago when my date was forced to wear one of their jackets when we passed thru for a quick drink at the bar. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good country club ;)…but I think now I just feel like it’s a place I will frequent instead of having to wait for a special occassion (though I understand why you would dislike it for the same reason!). Yeah…let’s hope the Polo Lounge isn’t destroyed. I wasn’t too fond of BarNineteen 12 the night I went…the music was club level obnoxious (they had a DJ)…not exactly what I’m looking for when I go to the Bev Hills Hotel!

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