As a kid growing up in working-class Los Angeles, I thought Beverly Hills was a faraway place reserved for privileged playboys and the Hollywood haves. Rich people lived in Beverly Hills; I watched Beverly Hillbillies on TV. I bought baubles at Target, not Tiffany. And I was in my 20s before I realized that Rodeo Drive wasn’t pronounced like the cowboy cattle-roping event.
As an adult, my tastes have become more sophisticated (though my income, unfortunately, has never quite caught up). I recently said, Oh, what the hell, and planned a Beverly Hills getaway―on my budget. After a weekend of cocktails, shopping, chic restaurants, poolside lounging, and posh digs, I have to say: Even in Beverly Hills, you can get a lot of bang for your buck.
A stylish home base for $175: For my pied-à-terre, I chose the Crescent Hotel.
Built in 1926 as a residence for silent-film stars, this sleek little 35-room boutique hotel has a prestigious address around the corner from Rodeo Drive and is within walking distance of everything, but with a nightly rate that didn’t make me swoon (compared with the $500-and-up Beverly Hills Hotel).
Bonus: Relaxing on the cushy sofas in the lounge with an indoor-outdoor fireplace feels very swank. From $175; 310/247-0505.
A touch of Hollywood for $10: To get my bearings, I hopped on the Beverly Hills Trolley for a 40-minute tour.
Okay, so you’ll never be mistaken for a local on this thing, but you get a ride through the leafy, winding roads of the 6-square-mile town.
Our guide burst into occasional song and celebrity impersonations while pointing out landmarks: the Beverly Wilshire (Pretty Woman) Hotel, countless designer stores, and mansions of old-time stars like Clark Gable, Gene Kelly, and Charlie Chaplin. Sat–Sun; Rodeo Dr. at Dayton Way; 310/285-2442.
Next: More ways to feel the star power in Beverly Hills