Rooms from $530, hotelbelair.com
Elizabeth Taylor, Nicole Kidman, Cary Grant, and Howard Hughes have all called the Hotel Bel-Air home. It’s where Richard Nixon wrote his memoirs, Marilyn Monroe had her famous “last sitting” photographed by Bert Stern, and the list goes on. The hillside retreat opened in 1946 and—after a top-to-bottom two-year renovation at a rumored cost of 100 million—recently reopened. The rooms and public spaces have an airier, more streamlined feel, thanks to designer Alexandra Champalimaud and architect David Rockwell. There’s also a new fitness studio, a La Prairie Spa, a new 7,000-square foot Presidential Suite (at a cool $13,500 per night), and private dining by Wolfgang Puck. But thankfully, much stayed exactly the same: the iconic oval swimming pool, the 12-acres of redwoods, the towering birds of paradise, the flowering peach and apricot trees, the famous pink stucco, and the hotel’s longest-standing residents: the white swans of swan lake.