The sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles
is a place many people might think they know, even if they've never actually been there. We've all grown up seeing the city in films and on television and it has seemed to evoke curiosity, varying opinions, love and hate and all the things you'd expect from a city with a population of almost 10 million.
T If you're thinking of going there for the first time, or returning to see things you may have missed, Getaway takes three very different vantages. Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Malibu are broken into Luxury, Family and Budget. We've also added Hollywood and a couple of theme parks.
Here's what Catriona Rowntree, Dermott Brereton and Jules Lund found in Beverly Hills.
Beverly Hills is one of the world's wealthiest neighbourhoods, and loves to show it off. There are more Ferraris and Rolls-Royces, many with uniformed drivers, on its streets than anywhere else in the world.
The town's epicentre is Rodeo Drive, where shopping is a major occupation. The fabled Drive has every major designer, shoulder pad to shoulder pad, in beautiful stores, with jewellery boasting telephone number-length price tags, shoe stores where the cost of one pair would pay a chunk off the mortgage and, of course, posh places to stop for coffee.
Catriona linked up with personal shopper, Aly Scott of StyleChic. Her clients range from people on a budget to a Saudi princess who has a chauffeured limousine to carry her purchases. There are just as many opportunities for men to drop a few dollars. Brooks Brothers, for one, sells classic, tailored clothing and as far as value for money, their styles just don't date.
If you join one of Aly's shopping trips you'll have a day of personal shopping, Champagne, private dressing rooms, discounts and wardrobe overhauls.
If you adore beautiful jewellery, Boutique Damiani is a huge favourite with stars. In 1924, Enrico Damiani began designing and producing diamond jewellery so beautiful and elegant he soon became the jeweller of choice for many of Italy's noble families. There are Damiani Boutiques in many cities around the world and actress Sharon Stone has recently been announced as the new face of Damiani.
The hotel we all know from the film Pretty Woman, The Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel, is one of the city's grandest properties. The lobby is a 1928 Italian Renaissance structure with an enormous sparkling chandelier as its centrepiece. It has 395 rooms, all luxuriously appointed, and Wolfgang Puck's restaurant attracts the town's A-list.
Even if you aren't staying there, you can book into the spa, take a dip in the pool modelled on Sophia Loren's Italian villa or even check in to the beauty salon. You never know who might be there enjoying a treatment beside you.
Beverly Hills Trolley Tours are a wonderful way to see the surrounds. They offer 40-minute narrated tours of art, architecture, historical and renowned areas of the city. Movie locations are pointed out as you make your way around the famous postcode 90210.
Fashionology is a new, interactive retail experience, where 'tween girls can design and make their own clothes and accessories. They use a computer to create a design then get to make it. Once the item is finished it can be embellished with rhinestones, pins or charms to make them unique.
Pop into the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau for a free map and all the information you could want. If you fancy, you can take one of the walks Walking in the Footsteps of Celebrities. It leads you around the Golden Triangle a grid of streets with Rodeo Drive at its centre at your own pace as you experience famous, and not-so-famous, venues.
Urth Caffé is a hangout for A-listers and wannabes. The company was established in 1989, and specialises in organic coffee and fine teas. Everything is chemical-free and very few growers can produce the flavour, richness and aroma demanded by Urth.
The Shave provides the ultimate in pampering for men. Gift certificates are popular and once the recipient has experienced the steam towel, head and hand massage and one-hour shave, they tend to become regular visitors.
Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills is an innovative hideaway, merging contemporary updates with classic mid-century style. It has vintage and custom-designed furniture and artworks.
Some celebrities do let their diets slip occasionally and when they do they head to Sprinkles Cupcakes. The pretty cakes come in myriad flavours. And guess what? They make cupcakes just for dogs!
If you wander a little way off Rodeo Drive, you'll find all sorts of stores offering more realistic prices. As Jules said, you can enjoy a Beverly Hills experience on a Beverly Hillbillies budget.
The luxury, family-friendly and budget side of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles
, United States.
StyleChic VIP shopping services cost $1800 for six hours, with town car pick-up from your hotel by appointment only.
The Beverly Wilshire rooms start at roughly $535 a night and the Presidential Suite is around $10,775 a night.
Beverly Hills Trolley narrated tours are roughly $12 for adults and $6 for children for 40 minutes. They leave from the south-west corner of Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way between 11am and 4pm. Buy your ticket onboard. Tour times change with the seasons, so give them a call to check when they're running and they don't run in wet weather.
Fashionology costs range from $18 to $100. Garment and design elements are included. They operate every day with varying times.
Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills rooms start at around $289 a night.
Air New Zealand flies daily to Los Angeles.
One-way fares from:
- Sydney $1447
- Melbourne $1429
- Adelaide $1715
- Perth $1729
- Brisbane $1453
On sale until September 8, 2009, and for travel between January 26 and March 27, 2010.
Prices correct at September 3, 2009