Since its inception in 1928, the legendary Beverly Wilshire hotel, which sits at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive has been the preferred address for celebrities, royalty and the international elite. Boasting a glittering history and a starring role in a host of blockbuster films, the A-list Four Seasons property was constructed by real estate developer Walter G. McCarty on the site of the former Beverly Hills Speedway. The original E-shaped structure, now known as the Wilshire Wing, is built in Tuscan stone and Carrara marble in an Italian Renaissance style, while the newer Beverly Wing was added in 1971, doubling the size of the hotel.
Tasked with redesigning and refurbishing existing rooms and suites in both wings, David Collins Studio masterminded a refined concept that unifies these areas while at the same time bringing the hotel into a new era. ‘We’d talked to Four Seasons before but had never really found the right project to collaborate on’ says Simon Rawlings, creative director at the internationally renowned design studio. ‘What was brilliant about the Beverley Wilshire is that it was about reinvention; taking something with a rich history and giving it a reawakening, which is what we love to do, so it feels like a contemporary hotel within a historic envelope.’
In advance of starting the project, Rawlings spent time at the property, observing the neighbourhood and understanding how people were using the rooms, from family vacations to business trips to awards season stopovers. ‘It appeals to many demographics, and what I saw was that it wasn’t attracting the type of clientele you might expect at a grand dame hotel,’ he says. ‘It was edgy, younger and more vibrant, and that influenced what we wanted to create.’
What was brilliant about the Beverly Wilshire is that it was about reinvention; taking something with a rich history and giving it a reawakening, which is what we love to do, so it feels like a contemporary hotel within a historic envelope.
Taking initial inspiration from British interior designer Syrie Maugham’s 1934 Art Deco white drawing room, which layered mirror and shades of ivory to great effect, the team then brought in other understated shades in the form of textiles, upholstery and artwork. ‘We wanted to evoke a sense of quiet luxury,’ says Rawlings. ‘For us, it was about a holistic experience - creating rooms that feel amazing rather than centring around a feature wall or a statement armchair. So we took that white room concept and added touches of pale blue or platinum, tobacco or rose gold for a really fresh feel. Everything melds together as a complimentary, tonal scheme. It’s about texture, reflection and a calm opulence.’
To this effect, walls are lined in an ivory wallcovering with a distressed horizontal stripe, while the abstracted geometric carpet focuses on the idea of movement and how it can be transferred onto background surfaces. At the windows, full-length curtains are a shimmering wool/silk mix. ‘The idea was to limit the cover and celebrate the transition between outside and in,’ explains Rawlings. ‘The original hotel had layers and layers of drapes so this time, we wanted it to be very tailored. On smaller windows we opted for blinds, which gives an elegant simplicity.’
Also a key influence was glamourous 1920s and 30s Hollywood, a mood evoked via bespoke elements including open closets and beautifully lit drinks cabinets. ‘We wanted to work in the magic of awards season, so along with built-in storage, we introduced an open wardrobe too,’ says Rawlings. ‘The idea is that your gown hangs in a nook with beautiful marble and lacquered timber shelves, and there’s a dressing table for hair and makeup and full-length mirrors everywhere. We also created drinks cabinets with premixed cocktails and incredible glassware, so it feels much more than a mini bar. If you’re entertaining or want to kick back, everything is to hand.’
Additional custom pieces come in the form of luxurious marble topped tables, mohair kidney-shaped sofas and platinum-stained timber and lacquer furniture, all of which are a subtle nod to the Hollywood regency period, while walls are hung with oval seascapes by Greek artist Efi Haliori and photography by Berlin-based Maryam Keyhani as well as custom palm leaf sketches. ‘These are positioned asymmetrically and sometimes overlapping to bring a sense of informality to the spaces,’ says Rawlings. ‘We wanted it to feel very personal, and this was a way of achieving that.’
Moving into the opulent bathrooms, the team embraced the existing marble and teamed it with oversized mirrors, wet and dry vanity areas, custom perimeter lighting and reeded glass wall sconces. ‘We were cautious about not being wasteful, so we looked at things we could reuse,’ says Rawlings. ‘It was important for us to ensure the bathrooms were light and bright, so the linen wallcovering has an amazing pearlescent quality, which by day reflects the light and by night, sparkles a little bit. Just by repolishing, refinishing and adding new lighting and hardware, we were able to bring everything up to date. Now, these spaces feel seductive, exclusive and above all, glamorous.’
Claudia Baillie is a freelance design and lifestyle journalist, and former Editor at ELLE Decoration Country.