From the outside, L'Ermitage hasn't changed from its days as a condominium complex circa 1970 - but inside is a different story. The lobby is an airy minimal paradise in mahogany and caramel. The bedrooms are boudoirs lined with gilded silk, with pale wooden screens that open into walk in closets, and plenty (675 feet for a standard) of space.
L'Ermitage aims for a Zen feel but it's in the details that the hotel is truly Asian (it's now owned by the Singapore chain Raffles). The towels by the heated rooftop pool are, at 88 inches, the longest in America. There's a lacquer box of chocolates in your room so beautiful that hardly anyone has dared to eat them. There's not one kind of bathrobe, but two - for those of you who just can't stand terrycloth, you can have waffled cotton instead. There are personalized business cards, stationery and fax cover letters, a five-line telephone, and your own cellphone that will ring as far as Palm Springs. And some complicated electronic gadgetry involving body temperatures and circuits tells the staff when you're in your room, when a light bulb burns out, and when you've blown the cable on your Web TV.
But it's the service that makes L'Ermitage truly exceptional. There's a personal valet on call at a touch of the zero key on one of your many phones. The staff scurries invisibly through separate service corridors, so you never crash into a maid and her trolley of towels. This comes as no surprise, considering it used to be known as a post-op retreat for stars (including Liz Taylor and Michael Jackson). L'Ermitage has long been expert at catering to your every need, whether it be a limousine with darkened windows or easy-to-chew foie gras and caviar.
General manager Jack Naderkhani-whom, it's said, was the model for the GM in Pretty Woman who schooled Julia Roberts in basic etiquette-has stayed on through the renovation, so much of the L'Ermitage soul has remained. Of course, since the facelift, it's been getting much more publicity - so L'Ermitage is no longer a retreat. The place to hide is now the place to be seen. Ah well, such is the price of beauty.
9291 Burton Way, Los Angeles Area