The Beverly Hills Hotel Bungalows
Alexandra Champalimaud / L.A.
Renowned interior designer, Alexandra Champalimaud, whose team is overseeing the legendary bungalow restorations at The Beverly Hills Hotel divulges how she’s fallen for their one-of-a-kind charm. If the walls cold speak, as they say, their’s would have many tales to tell…
The Beverly Hills Hotel has been undergoing a restoration programme since celebrating its 100 years in 2012, and it reaches its final stages with the crown jewels of the property - the bungalows. The iconic Bungalows 5, 8 and 22 have already seen completion with the remaining 18 planned to be finished through 2018. The thoughtful redesign maintains the Bungalows’ original charm whilst introducing modern West Coast style including whimsical elements reflective of the hotels history with the most celebrated stars.
The likes of Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Gloria Swanson, Yves Montant and Howard Hughes have been known to consider the bungalows as their ‘home away from home’. Bungalow 5, for example, incorporate details like the colour blue, gold foil, sparkles, and jewel-coloured draperies, reflective of Elizabeth Taylor’s home. Bungalow 8 exudes warm Southern Californian tones in copper, pinks, greens and gold. Bungalow 22, meanwhile, is inspired by the Palm Springs home of another famous guest, Frank Sinatra.
Of all tales about the Beverly Hills Hotel bungalows, which story captivates you the most?
I’m especially fond of the stories about Elizabeth Taylor. She spent six of her eight honeymoons at The Beverly Hills Hotel and was especially fond of Bungalow 5. Elizabeth and Richard Burton always stayed in number 5. Our design for the bungalow pays tribute to Elizabeth’s chic sense of style: her deep passion and sense of romance, and of course, her tremendous beauty. The suite has a feminine air celebrating Hollywood’s ultimate screen goddess.
When working on the restoration of the bungalow, did you encounter a detail in which you had the impression you were witnessing a bit of hollywood history?
Every single time you turn a corner at The Beverly Hills Hotel you feel like you're witnessing Hollywood History! This hotel is so incredibly important to Los Angeles, I can’t think of a hotel with a more celebrated history
What element of the Bungalows’ retrains do you think makes them truly feel like a ‘home away from home’?
The bungalows are all unique and bespoke, so this of course makes them feel very residential. Also, the lovely garden setting, from which you enter the bungalows, gives one the sense of staying in a private home. And I do think the interiors, which are chic, relaxed and have a California sensibility, are full of charm.
If you were staying in one bungalow with your family, which would you choose?
Elizabeth Taylor, Bungalow 5. Not only is it simply stunningly beautiful but it also has a private garden with a pool. I’m an avid swimmer and love to start my day with laps, so bungalow 5 is for me.
What has been the most challenging part of the project so far?
Not completing them all. We are extremely excited to finish the rest of the project.
And what has been the most rewarding part?
It has been such a great personal and professional honour to work on these famed bungalows. To begin with, I was so thrilled to be entrusted with the renovation of Hotel Bel-Ar, which is another iconic Dorchester Collection hotel, but then to also be awarded the renovation of the famed bungalows has been truly a dream come true.
Which detail in the restoration is the most elaborate in terms of research, sourcing or workmanship that truly sets the bungalows apart?
For Bungalow 21, I designed a beautifully modern leather and steel fireplace. Of course people were a bit nervous about a leather-wrapped fireplace but I stuck to my guns and, wow, it really is memorable. Everyone loves it!
What element in the restoration do you feel expresses The Beverly Hills Hotel in true essence?
The famous Ben Stern photograph of Elizabeth Taylor which I placed in the foyer of Bungalow 5. The photograph, which was taken in 1962 for Vogue, has her wearing her Cleopatra makeup. It is a stunning piece, just perfect; full of glamour, sex appear and power.