Mike Cohen Travel

BeverleyHills – The first thing you need to know about Beverly Hills (www.lovebeverlyhills.com) is its reputation as a shopping and restaurant paradise. But then I always knew that, dating back to my favorite childhood TV show the Beverly Hillbillies.

Sightseeing tours here are popular for discovering architectural highlights, famous landmarks and celebrity haunts. From Anne Fontaine to David Yurman, more than 100 retailers are located on swank Rodeo Drive. This is one of the world’s great streets for designer label and haute couture boutiques and shops. Nearby is another popular tourist attraction, the PaleyCenter for Media, where visitors can select, view and listen to titles from a library of 120,000 TV shows and radio programs.

Run by the City of Beverly Hills, the Trolley Tour is a great introduction to the neighborhood. As the name suggests, an old-fashioned-looking trolley car transports riders through the city, while the tour leader shares information on its art, architecture and history, over the course of 40 minutes.

The sprawling Greystone Mansion, built in 1928, serves as the location for many movie shoots and weddings. Since it functions as a public park, the outdoor areas of the estate, including the manicured lawns and courtyard areas, are all free of charge – even parking is free.

Following an excellent experience at the Sofitel in New York City, we found accommodations at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills (http://www.sofitel.com) at 8555 Beverly Blvd. This hotel blends Hollywood glamour, European elegance and French style to create a sophisticated experience. There is nothing quite like awakening to sweeping Hollywood Hill views and sunlit French doors. Guests also have the opportunity to indulge themselves at Le Spa.

The hotel boasts a prime location, one mile from Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, at the epicenter of LA style. It is located across the street from BeverlyShopping Center and 30 minutes from LAX airport and Santa Monica Pier.

There are 295 rooms on 10 floors, including 26 suites and  two  Presidential Suites. Room amenities include: the SoBed – Sofitel’s luxurious feathertop and duvet sleep system; high-definition LCD television, with a laptop connection;  wired and wireless Internet access; a Bose  Wave music system;  minibar; safety deposit box; and a spacious bath with  a rainfall shower, and luxurious French toiletries.

We stayed in a Beverly Luxury King room. There is a lovely outdoor pool with lounge chairs on the second floor and a neat business centre off the main reception desk. The staff is extremely polite and helpful, with a full concierge desk at your disposal. The latter helped me out a lot with directions, restaurant options and tour stops.

If you are looking to experience one restaurant in Beverly Hills, make it Mastro’s Steakhouse (www.mastrosrestaurants.com) at 246 North Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. Part of a successful chain,  it is recognized as one of the top 10 steakhouses in the U.S while known equally as well for  sumptuous seafood selections and one of the best desserts I have ever tasted in my life – the famous and irresistible warm butter cake..

We recommend the signature IcedSeafoodTower, the 12 ounce bone-in filet and the two and half pound lobster. For the latter do not be shy to ask your waiters (there are two per table) to cut  it up so that all you will need is a knife and fork. Among their wide selection of sides, we chose the garlic mashed potatoes and they were superb. The rack of lamb and veal chops looked appetizing as well, perhaps for consideration next time.

At Mastro’s you need to make sure to leave some food on your plate if necessary in order to save room for their warm butter cake. One large piece is easily enough for three or four people to share. It is topped with vanilla ice cream and served with a generous side of whipped cream. The cake, which includes cream cheese (the recipe is top secret), cuts so easily you only need your fork. Every morsel is so absolutely delicious that without any self control any person in their right mind can keep carving away on your own until there is nothing left. It is simply that addictive.

Mike Cohen’s email address is info@mikecohen.ca. Follow his travels at www.sandboxworld.com/travel and on Twitter @mikecohen.ca.

Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles is a must-see destination for shoppers

Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles is a must-see destination for shoppers