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    Bel Air Los Angeles: California VIP Villas Tour

    Who I am
    Joel Fulleda
    @joelfulleda
    SOURCES CONSULTED:

    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    Many neighborhoods make up the county of Los Angeles, the metropolis par excellence of central-southern California, and some of these have high-sounding names (Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Malibu, Santa Monica): in Los Angeles the landscape ranges from the sea to the hills, from the skyscrapers to the suburbs passing through exclusive areas and areas inhabited by the bourgeoisie. We have been here for a few days on a visit and we would not like to leave anything unfinished; precisely for this reason, after visiting Beverly Hills we want to close the “Platinum Triangle” to the discovery, as far as possible, of Bel Air (also passing through the other "side", Holmby Hills). The name of our stage is definitely familiar and certainly not only to us. On the other hand, how many times have you heard of it?



    We continue to drive in this county in the area called Westside, at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the signs signal the approach of Bel Air, which extends for 16.5 square km. It is close, we are about to enter one of the areas of the "beautiful world" par excellence, where the inhabitants - about 8.000 mostly white - live in well-being, in good-looking residences surrounded by pleasant green areas (there are also minimal percentages of Asians, Latinos and Blacks).

    Bel Air it is one of the many faces of Los Angeles County, which must certainly be visited, an "apparently quiet" place known worldwide for being the hill where very wealthy, famous or simply well-known people have decided to take up residence. We mention some of them who have left a mark on their field, not "meteors": Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Dean Martin, Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, Tony Curtis, Ronald Reagan, Alfred Hitchock,  the Olympian / "Tarzan" Johnny Weissmuller as well as contemporaries Clint Eastwood e Nicholas Cage. If years ago the Bel Air hill with Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills represented a status symbol, now times have changed a bit also because of well-known people, who acquire fame and money quickly, there are more and more. Many of them choose to live in other residential areas such as Brentwood, Hollywood Hills, Encino, Malibu, Santa Monica, Calabasas and Pacific Palisades.



    Index

    • Bel Air: a luxury neighborhood in Los Angeles ...
      • … to say little exclusive! The zone “gated”
      • But how was Bel Air born?
    • How to orient yourself?
    • What to see in Bel Air: villas and clubs and gardens
      • At the home of Willy, the prince of Bel Air… or maybe not!
      • The Bel Air Film Festival
      • To close the Platinum Triangle, a trip to Holmby Hills
    • Tour organizzati a Bel Air
    • Recommended restaurants in Bel Air
    • The best hotels in Bel Air
    • How to reach Bel Air

    Bel Air: a luxury neighborhood in Los Angeles ...

    In the world there are other places with characteristics more or less similar to these, but the Bel Air hill has something special that tickles the curiosity and the desire for knowledge: the million dollar properties, luxurious residences of so-called VIPs or really illustrious personalities. This means that the area is the object of "pilgrimage" with organized or private tours. And as always, the coin has two sides. Some residents, whose fame is not consolidated, appreciate the fact of being constantly "on the lips" of the guides aboard the minibuses along the hill, because this helps them to stay on the crest of the wave; others, on the other hand, would gladly do without flashes and the curiosity of strangers. But beyond the interest of knowing who this or that villa belongs to, theBel Air green area is truly harmonious and beautiful in itself: what immediately catches the eye is the architectural diversity of the buildings: for example, you pass from the style of a castle to the Romanesque one with colonnades, or to an extreme modernity, and this is certainly a booster element.


    Bel Air is a luxury district in which large villas, residences with annexes, swimming pools, tennis courts, everything and more stand out, a community where most of the residents live in luxury, and enjoy dizzying wealth and real estate values . To preserve the harmony of this area there are restrictions on the height of the buildings. The residences erected on the hill can be reached along mainly narrow, curvilinear but well-paved streets, paths with trees, palms and many hedges. This is an exclusive neighborhood with few public places, some hotels and schools (4 public and 8 private), inhabited by people who live with a high or very high standard of living, where incomes are the highest in all of Los Angeles County . Of course there are speed limits to be observed; they are variable and are around 25-45 km per hour.


    … to say little exclusive! The zone “gated”

    Some areas of Bel Air, as well as Beverly Hills, are gated, which means that they are distinguished by the constant presence of security guards, that the houses are surrounded by high gates, walls, hedges, protected by cameras and sophisticated systems of d 'alarm. Among the four areas present here with such characteristics it stands out Bel Air Crest (12001 Bel Air Crest Rd.), One of the most exclusive communities in the country kept under constant observation. The fact of living in impenetrable mansions, under strict surveillance, is rewarded by the position that allows you to enjoy splendid views of the canyons and hills. The other three gated communities are Beverly Park, The Summit, and Mulholland Estates. Instead, there are two gates (gates) along Sunset Boulevard whose names may be misleading. I'm actually alone two points of free access at Bel Air Hill, one to the east and one to the west; in a nutshell, these are two structures that "formalize" the entrance to the neighborhood and nothing more.


    West Gate
    East Gate

    But how was Bel Air born?

    It was founded in 1923 by Alphonso Bell, the owner of a farm not too far away: in Santa Fe Springs in the southeastern area of ​​Los Angeles county, where oil was discovered. With the money raised, Mr. Bell decided to buy a large ranch and house on what is now Bel Air Road. Subsequently he divided the property into large lots that over time have maintained and developed a purely residential character, in an area of ​​peace and serenity, to become what the hill has represented for years.


    How to orient yourself?

    Bel Air villas map

    Coming from Beverly Hills, we are about to enter Bel Air bounded to the south by Sunset Blvd., to the east by N.Beverly Glen Blvd., to the north by Mulholland Dr. and to the west by N. Sepulveda Blvd. lead to the "hill" we happened to meet pensioners who sell maps of the area, more or less official, with addresses and names of the owners of the houses. We bought it for $ 5. Here no one forbids us to browse a bit and therefore we drive pleasantly flanked by the greenery, by the trees and by the hedges through which the ville in Bel Air. Some are "unveiled", visible to those passing along the road, others are hidden or only a few corners can be glimpsed.

    Our pace is slow because we are “exploring”, not just because of the speed limits. We are using the purchased map, we turn our gaze to the right and left, take a look at the garden and at the entrance to the Los Angeles VIP villas to see if any characters are leaving or returning home with their chauffeur, if any limousines are traveling with wealthy businessmen or jet set stars inside. Well yes, we saw a long white limousine but we will never know who was inside it, protected by the tinted windows.

    Let's play a "game" and try to imagine what happens behind it the gates, the high hedges, the walls and the gardens of this world that appears ephemeral, even if in reality it is a world made up of working people. Yes, that's fine, but in our opinion movie, music or sports stars are overpaid! Are they shooting a movie? Is there a party going on? Is the butler washing the car? We do not know, but certainly within what we cannot see there are luxury, glitz, well-being, in a "golden" context also typical of other neighborhoods in greater Los Angeles. The brands of the Rodeo Drive maison are flaunted on every social occasion and the “zeros parade” as in a long parade during parties, weddings, benefit galas, award deliveries, but also in everyday life.

    What to see in Bel Air: villas and clubs and gardens

    We are long Bellagio Road, the road that practically divides Bel Air into the west, which is more accessible (so to speak, with properties ranging from 1.5 to 5.5 million dollars) and the eastern part, which is more expensive (from 6 to over 20 million dollars). Let's see the indication of Bel Air Country Club located at 10768 of this road, a reality where we cannot enter. The members of this exclusive club have the opportunity to meet and interact in their activities but then in the peaceful hillside atmosphere they relax, play tennis, play golf and appreciate the cuisine of the restaurant which has been active since 1925. The members of the Country Club are invited to follow a dress code and to find out more it is interesting to consult the website www.bel-aircc.golf. Parties and weddings are also organized here.

    Once open to the public, theHannah Carter Japanese Garden (10920 Wilshire Blvd.), is a large Japanese garden inspired by the one in Kyoto. Unfortunately, the park is now closed and its survival is uncertain. Locals are hoping that a solution will be found to reopen it as it was once one of the finest examples of a Japanese garden in the United States and it would be a shame to do without it.

    At the home of Willy, the prince of Bel Air… or maybe not!

    We need to ask for help, we've been running around for a few minutes. We assumed 251 North Bristol Avenue was in Bel Air. We remember the exterior of thehome in the successful television series "Willy, il principle di Feel free to call Air” ("The fresh prince of Bel Air") which saw the actor's beginnings Will Smith (now also a Hollywood director and producer). We are looking for the Bel Air mansion par excellence… without succeeding! We are told that the building is actually located in Brentwood, a neighborhood nearby. Ok, now we understand, thank you for the clarification and this confirms that the world of television and cinema take the liberty of showing us certain images by passing them off as locations that are found in a certain context when in reality they are often "hoaxes"! Just for the record, Will Smith and family don't live in Bel Air but in Calabasas, north of Santa Monica and Malibu.

    The Bel Air Film Festival

    Il Bel Air Film Festival (BAFF) is an annual film festival that has been held for three days throughout greater Los Angeles since 2008 to promote appreciation and knowledge of the art of film. It attracts thousands of attendees and is naturally well received by the local Los Angeles community for the benefits it brings. Every year the event is appreciated by many directors from all over the world and is inaugurated with a “red carpet” evening followed by projections, celebrations, meetings and debates. There is also a special section dedicated to young talents. The first opening gala took place on a private estate in Bel-Air.

    Among the locations that have joined the initiative over the years we mention the William Morris Endeavor Theater, the Soho House West Hollywood, the Hammer Museum, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Palihouse, the Saban Theater, others Bel Air private estates and the UCLA and USC campuses. In the outdoor locations a large grassy area is set up properly for the event. Tables are also available and you can bring blankets from home. The ticket costs $ 5 per movie and $ 10 if you buy the pass for all movies. Admission is free for children under 10. The ticket includes a soft drink and popcorn but it is allowed to bring snacks from home.

    To close the Platinum Triangle, a trip to Holmby Hills

    As mentioned above, to close the Platinum Triangle we transit from Holmby hills, less known than the other two locations but worthy of mention. The neighborhood is located in the west of Los Angeles, near the well-known University of California (UCLA). Here too there are villas where famous people such as Walt Disney and Barbara Streisand have lived (to name just a couple). And then there are the green areas of Holmby Park (601Club View Dr.) and De Nuevo Square Park (314 N. Beverly Glen Blvd.). Art lovers can go to the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation (265 N. Carolwood Dr.), an institution that aims to preserve and make publicly accessible an extraordinary collection of over 400 works of art which includes masterpieces by Cezanne, Picasso, Kandinsky and surrealist works by Ernst, Mirò, Magritte , together with creations by Warhol and Giacometti ([email protected]). Holmby Hills is also known for its particular street lamps that distinguish it from other Los Angeles neighborhoods.

    Tour organizzati a Bel Air

    For those wishing to know the excesses and beauties of Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Hollywood through a guided tour, we recommend that you consider this two-hour tour along the exclusive streets of American movie stars: the guide will accompany you to discover the VIP villas Americans and exclusive places where they like to spend their free time: the shops, boutiques, clubs, restaurants and hotels preferred by the protagonists of the jet set.

    More info on the tour

    If you prefer a customized tour of Bel Air and / or the Los Angeles area we recommend Glitterati Tours (8029 W. Norton - W. Hollywood). The means of transport used are SUVs, excellent minivans, but the main thing is that this company organizes private visits, also freely customized according to the points of interest, whether they are Hollywood and the world of cinema, whether they are the celebrities of Beverly Hills or historical reference, the arts and culture or simply the beauty of nature along the coast. The staff is available to make suggestions so that customers are satisfied and live their ideal tour. This is one of the highest rated companies in the Los Angeles area and the first choice of most area hotel concierges (glitteratitours.com).

    Recommended restaurants in Bel Air

    Few are the restaurants and hotels but it goes without saying that what is on site are good facilities.

    • To combine melodies with contemporary American cuisine we suggest Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill & Jazz (2930 Beverly Glen Circle), a theater where you can dine while "savoring" good music. The venue hosts some of the best talented musicians in the world. This "restaurant-theater" requires a fairly elegant style, what in the area is defined as Los Angeles smart casual. The restaurant also houses a bar from which you can listen to music without having to dine.
    • International flavors, combined with seasonal ingredients, come together at The Bel Air (662 N. Sepulveda Blvd.), a mid-to-high priced restaurant that also offers a restaurant bar.
    • A fusion of Japanese and Italian cuisine and more, is proposed by SHU-Sushi House Unico (2932 Beverly Glen Circle) average cost. Here you can taste sushi, rolls, salads, soups and ceviche (a typical South American dish).

    The best hotels in Bel Air

    Speaking of accommodation the flagship of the neighborhood is the Bel Air Hotel (701 State Canyon Rd.), Nestled in a garden. This luxury hotel also draws famous personalities. The rooms and suites are spacious, contemporary and elegantly decorated. The hotel has a spa, swimming pool, bar, boutique and restaurant Wolfgang Puck, which combines modern Californian cuisine with European influence. You can eat inside the restaurant or in the garden. Daily, included in the price, from 9 to 21 there is a transport service by luxury car within a radius of 5 kilometers.

    Check availability

    Il Luxe Sunset Boulevard (11461 Sunset Blvd. - intersection of Brentwood and Bel Air.) Is a chic boutique hotel with beautiful outdoor lounging areas, large rooms and suites in warm tones and color harmony. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, lounge and restaurant.

    Check availability

    A style even more in tune with nature is The Bel Air Treehouse (795 N. Beverly Glen Blvd.), a Bed and Breakfast, 5 minutes from the famous University of California (UCLA). Each room has its own style that ranges from French atmospheres to Victorian style, from late modernism to the tropical-Japanese mix. The B&B offers a mini kitchen and a coffee machine. The structure is pet friendly and yoga classes are offered.

    Check availability

    At the link below you can take a look at all the other hotels available on the hill and in the surrounding area. If you want to stay elsewhere in the city, our article on where to sleep in Los Angeles might be useful.

    Find accommodation in Bel Air

    • All accommodations on Booking
    • All accommodations on Vrbo

    How to reach Bel Air

    To reach Bel Air we recommend theLos Angeles airport (1 World Way), half an hour away: if you are staying in the city, take a rental car: this is the best way to get around Los Angeles. In our opinion, one day is enough to visit it, so you can combine the visit with other excursions: at 18 minutes we find Beverly Hills, a “close relative” of Bel Air and Santa Monica with its famous pier and beautiful beach. 24 minutes from the Hollywood cinema and then the eccentric Venice with its canals. 25 minutes Burbank with its television, film and production companies. 37 minutes from Long Beach on the Queen Mary ocean liner, now a hotel, but open to visitors. Finally Anaheim is 50 minutes away: here lies the fantastic kingdom of Disneyland.

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