WHY Bathed in the flashlight of sidewalk-dwelling paparazzi, the celebrity stamping ground of Beverly Hills is itself a star in fame-obsessed LA. The city's hotels and palm-lined main streets have had countless roles in hit movies, its nightspots feature in gossip pages and tour buses to see where actors live depart on the hour.
But the coolest places to play remain off the radar. The papp-free places where non-famous locals like to dine, drink coffee and work out perhaps offer a more interesting insight than the celebrity haunts.
VISIT Rodeo Drive, the serious shoppers' place of worship, sells fashion at prices higher than the hopes of every wannabe actor in town. Stroll the neat, cobblestoned avenues where the likes of Jimmy Choo and Tiffany lure blow-dried, monied locals. (lovebeverlyhills.com/shopping). Back in the real world, The Grove outdoor mall has one of America's last big book emporiums, Barnes & Noble, a farmers' market and food arcades packed with budget-friendly So Cal fare. (thegrovela.com) SoulCycle is what happens if you give spin a twist – indoor cycling by candlelight and set to rock music is the hot fitness fad of the moment. Join in at the studio on Wilshire Boulevard. (soul-cycle.com)
EAT Connie and Ted's is styled like a typical New England clam shack by the sea, pulling a big crowd even on a Tuesday night with its lobster rolls, oysters on ice and clam bake. (connieandteds.com). The just-opened, Aussie-run Canon Club has a casual chic vibe with a guitarist, a street-front bar and seafood-dominated cuisine. Don't skip the fish tacos. (Canonclubbh.com) Splurge on posh nosh at Avec Nous, the mod French bistro inside the newly done-up Viceroy L'Ermitage hotel, where French-born chef Olivier Quignon puts his stamp on escargot, charcuterie and mille-feuille. (avecnous.com)
LOOK With a collection of more than 60 pieces of public art scattered around the streets, an art lover's walk is a must-do. Find sculptures in the lobbies of public buildings and on traffic islands, plus a collection of contemporary works in Beverly Gardens Park. (See the much-photographed 12-metre illuminated Beverly Hills sign there too). Download a map and itinerary for a self-guided tour of art, architectural icons and the city's art galleries at lovebeverlyhills.com/walking-tours
MUST Poseurs paradise, aka the rooftop pool at the Sixty Hotel, has sweeping views, cocktails, cabanas and cool people. Watch them take selfies and work on their tans in the shadow of the Hollywood sign while you order lunch. (sixtyhotels.com/beverlyhills) The Paley Centre for Media presides over a vast library of more than 150,000 TV and radio programs going back to their earliest days with free viewing available at individual consoles. Exhibitions include the world's most important collection of vintage typewriters used by famous authors like Ernest Hemingway.
SLEEP Hidden in a leafy residential street, the new all-suite, all-style Viceroy L'Ermitage is littered with luxe touches like a flat screen TV embedded in the bathroom mirror, a host of sexy in-room lighting options and personal waiter buttons at each pool chair. Service so flawless it would impress the biggest divas in showbiz. Bonus: Cruise around the hood in the house car – a Maserati – it's free. (Viceroyhotelsandresorts.com)
TIP Download Uber. Public transport is in the too-hard basket here as places of interest are so spread out in Beverly Hills and beyond that going everywhere by car is the only real option. Cheaper than cabs, but you'll still need to budget for multiple rides day and night to see and do the city highlights.
Angie Kelly was a guest of the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau and Visit California