Monisha Rajesh visits a hip Beverly Hills’ hotel where some sleuthing reveals a reception only too happy to lie to your face.
It’s never fun being lied to. Especially when the liar is a member of staff at a fancy Beverly Hills hotel who then pouts and looks nonplussed when caught out. It’s pretty much a guarantee that I will never return, which is a crying shame because it started so well when I checked into the Kimpton Hotel Palomar in Los Angeles. Walking in from Wilshire Boulevard, I felt like I’d just crashed a summer drinks party. Tanned men in deck shoes were standing around with tanned women in wedges holding frosted glasses of ice-cold wine, chatting, laughing and making friends – not to mention a couple of jolly canines wagging their tails and sniffing around the pot plants of this jolly and pet-friendly hotel.
It turned out to be Wine o’Clock, and hats off to any hotel that offers free wine at 5pm for guests to unwind, meet other guests, or load up before a night on the town. And if you’re teetotal there are always fresh jugs of fruit-infused water available. Either way it was a lovely touch as was the little burgundy bicycle I noticed leaning against the wall with a sign around its neck saying ‘Take me, I’m yours’. LA is notoriously hard to negotiate without a car and, even with Uber available at the tap of an app, it was good to be able to ride off around the local neighbourhood and park up for bagels and eggs.
Flopping on my bed, I felt quite at home: there was a yoga mat for my morning stretches and a couple of animal-print dressing gowns for my inner Del Boy to curl up in after a bubble bath. The website was a bit misleading and crowed of in-room soaking tubs which aren’t in the room – they’re in the bathroom – and only if you book a suite. But we shrugged it off and considered Blvd 16, the main restaurant, which is rather reminiscent of The Sports Bar circa 2002.
Unwilling to sit in the gloomy bar on a gorgeous balmy evening, we ordered room service and stayed in bed in our gowns and staring out of the window at the LA skyline glowing gold in the evening sun. We worked our way through a spread of chicken wings smeared with fiery sourness that demanded a bottle of beer. This was followed by shishito peppers with flakes of sea salt, and a huge plate of wholegrain salad plumped with quinoa and the crunch of fresh kale. It was an unusual dish for a menu that featured calamari, fish tacos and the usual finger food of an afternoon beer session, but it was still good.
I loved almost everything about this hotel until the next afternoon. Free to use the outdoor pool after check-out, I asked the receptionist if my fiancé and I could use a spare room to change out of our wet clothes and re-pack our bags for the onward journey to Chicago. There was no changing area by the pool so it didn’t seem an unreasonable request. We were told the hotel was fully booked and no rooms were available. Just that morning my fiancé had discovered he had shingles and was in a lot of pain, so I wanted to re-dress his rash and make sure he was comfortable before we left. Nope, the lady was not interested.
‘I told you, we are fully booked ma’am. There is no room for you to change.’
Ten minutes later, I hid behind a corner, dialed the hotel phone, adopted a fake American accent and asked if I could book a room for that afternoon. Her response: ‘Hello ma’am, let me see, we have three rooms available still. What level of room were you looking for?’
And that, my friends, is why I will never stay at the Kimpton again.