Los Angeles has its fair share of iconic hotels brimming with old Hollywood charm, but few have a more storied past than the Fairmont Century Plaza hotel, located right outside of Beverly Hills in the Century City neighborhood on the former backlot of 20th Century Fox Studios.
I was invited to check out the newly renovated hotel on a recent trip to LA and was met with one of the most unexpected yet glamorous hotels I’ve ever experienced. The hotel, located just a 5-minute walk from the Westfield Century City shopping complex, has been closed for the past 5 years and just reopened in September. After many dark nights, this property returns with a major glow-up. For a pop culture fan like myself, the Fairmont Century Plaza has so many special touches throughout that really emphasize the Hollywood glamour and iconic history, making my stay that much more enjoyable.
A history of Hollywood elegance
The hotel first opened back in 1966 and has since seen star power from the likes of politicians, foreign dignitaries, famous musicians and, of course, Hollywood stars.
The first and only Presidential State Dinner located outside of the White House took place here in 1969 under the Nixon administration, also known as the Dinner of the Century, honoring the safe return to earth of the Apollo 11 astronauts. The hotel was affectionately referred to as the “Western White House” during the Reagan administration, as he was known to frequently host fundraisers and inaugural celebrations in the storied ballroom.
From Emmy Awards (Lucille Ball won her first here) to Grammy Awards (Johnny Cash won his Grammy for A Boy Named Sue here as well), and a Sonny and Cher residence in the 70’s, this hotel has seen a lot. And just like the timeless stars that have graced its halls, it’s reinvented itself in the most glamorous way.
Entering the lobby, I was immediately struck by how spacious and open it was, blurring the lines nicely between indoor and outdoor. I, unfortunately, checked in on one of the first rainy days LA had in months, but when the weather is nicer the lobby features retractable floor-to-ceiling glass windows that can open. Hello, sunshine!
Find the right cocktail to fit your mood
Smack dab in the middle of the lobby is the Bar at Century Plaza, a watering hole and a focal point of the entire Fairmont Century Plaza experience, with a cocktail menu paying homage to the history of live music at the hotel. The menu even features an interactive quiz to help you find which signature cocktail “sings” to you based on your musical preferences. I opted for a “Next Century,” a spectacular mezcal cocktail halfway between John & Yoko and the Beach Boys.
The tech features wow
The Century Plaza, which was once dubbed “The Hotel of the Future” has always been known for adapting cutting-edge technology for its guests. In fact, it was the first hotel to have color televisions back in the day. I was delighted to see the small but impactful interactive touchpoints throughout the hotel that really enhanced my stay. For instance, the Google Chromecast in each guest room allows visitors to log into their own streaming profiles like Netflix or HBOMax so they can utilize all their own pre-determined preferences instead of being stuck with generic cable. Another unique interactive element that I had never seen at a hotel before was custom Spotify playlist codes throughout the property, which are QR-like scannable barcodes within the popular music sharing app. The front of the lobby is adorned with a scannable code upon entrance, and Lumière has a romantic ‘dinner for two’ playlist, featuring everything from Dolly Parton and Sam Cooke to Billie Eilish and Childish Gambino.
A sunny disposition on the rooftop
At the hotel’s rooftop pool, guests can take a dip and soak up some sun while indulging in refreshments and light bites from the Pool Bar, all while taking in the sweeping views of the city. Again, sadly, I managed to unknowingly plan my trip around the rarest of LA days - a rainy one, so I did not get to fully enjoy all the rooftop has to offer. But I assure you, I’ll be making a return trip to soak up the sun soon enough.
Escaping to the spa
On the opposite end of the hotel downstairs, the 14,000 square foot spa is the proverbial icing on the very sparkly cake within the entire guest experience. I enjoy wellness and pampering when I travel and have patronized my fair share of beautiful hotel spas, but I’ve never seen one as stunning and as obsessed with the details as the Fairmont Spa Century Plaza. The facility features nine treatment rooms, a Himalayan salt room, aromatherapy steam rooms and a Technogym fitness center. The spa goes above and beyond a typical wellness experience, immersing guests in all five senses, from the binaural beats to the rainwater shower and the chlorophyll water served at check-in. I highly recommend a sensorial escape to this relaxation oasis.
The fitness center focuses not only on wellness but recovery as well, offering group fitness classes, Peloton bikes, HyperIce recovery equipment and on-demand gyms that can be sent to your room.
To add to the glam and luxury guests can experience throughout their stay, the hotel’s courtesy vehicle, a Mercedes S-Class sedan will take you anywhere within a 3-mile radius.
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And the award for Best Reinvention goes to….the Fairmont Century Plaza!
The property is definitely camera-ready from top to bottom. In fact, the hotel is excited to be hosting this year’s Critics' Choice Awards on March 13 in the iconic Los Angeles Ballroom. If you’re heading to the City of Angels and want to feel some of that iconic Beverly Hills glamor and luxury, the Fairmont Century Plaza’s recent renovations will remind you that Hollywood always loves a good comeback story.
The rooms: The guest room experience has received a major facelift since the reopening. The hotel originally housed 700 guest rooms, but the size of each room was expanded during the renovation and the property now features 400 rooms, each with its own private balcony, including 85 suites and 71 Fairmont Gold rooms. The serene marble bathroom in my guest room felt like a rejuvenating spa experience with signature Le Labo products and the plushest bathrobe I think I’ve ever felt. Also, I could write another entire article about the pillow-top mattress that felt as if it had been sent from Heaven, but just take my word for it – it was luxe.
The food: Lumière, the French brasserie-style restaurant right off the lobby, is named after the motion picture pioneers, the Lumière brothers, and features a menu full of “traditional French fare with distinctive SoCal flair.” Velvet seating, brass accents and a picturesque patio decked in string lights, all lend to the cozy and inviting atmosphere and make you forget you’re in the heart of LA’s business district. Room service is also available.
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The area: The hotel is located just a 5-minute walk from Westfield Century City mall, a buzzing outdoor shopping mall with lots of great shopping, dining and entertainment options. While there is a lot of construction currently surrounding the property, it’s all in an effort to make it much more navigable for guests, including 2 residential towers out back that will soon have restaurants and retail space on the first floor, as well as an escalator that connects to Westfield Century City for those rare LA rainy days.
Accessibility: Wheelchair rooms are available with roll-in showers. All public areas are wheelchair accessible including the gym and spa. Knock/phone light and visual alarm options are available upon request.
The price: Rates start around $800 a night with packages including a $100 hotel credit, 2 spa amenity passes, daily breakfast for 2 and overnight valet parking.
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Safety recommendations and restrictions during a pandemic can change rapidly. Lonely Planet recommends that travelers always check with local authorities for up-to-date guidance before traveling during Covid-19.