Experiencing a Classic Hollywood Restaurant: The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel

When you hear the name Beverly Hills Hotel, most people immediately think of one thing: celebrities. While I wasn’t lucky enough to run into a celebrity while I lunched (because, really, you can’t just “eat” at the Beverly Hills Hotel!) at the Polo Lounge, the whole experience felt quintessentially Old Hollywood.

My California-based grandma joined me for this glamorous lunch during my long weekend in L.A., and we both agreed that this classic Hollywood landmark really lives up to its name. Here are my thoughts!

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What kind of restaurant is it? What’s the price point? 

The Polo Lounge offers classic American fare at sky high prices. Save this spot for special occasions!

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How’s it look? Describe the restaurant’s aesthetic, any notable features, first impressions.

It’s a classic beauty. The hotel is famous for its green and pink motif, and that doesn’t stop at the Polo Lounge. Green is much more prominent, with large circular forest green booths in the indoor seating area and plenty of matching cushions and umbrellas outdoors. We ate on the patio, which was beautiful. The umbrellas and trees overhead provided the perfect amount of shade. The entire area could have easily felt outdated, but it’s managed to hang on to an elegant and classic image. DSCN1398

DSCN1394 How’s the wait staff? Are they attentive, good with kids, fast?

The wait staff was great. All my boxes were checked: kind, funny, fast. No complaints here—not that I’m surprised!

Entree: how’s it taste? If meat, is your meat cooked the way you wanted?
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Sitting Down with Nevin Martell, Author of Travel Memoir “Freak Show Without a Tent”

Nevin Martell Courtesy of Photographer Scott Suchman

Nevin Martell, courtesy of photographer Scott Suchman

 

From Ship to Shore‘s Hannah Josi recently sat down with Freak Show Without a Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations author and prolific D.C. food writer Nevin Martell to talk crazy travel adventures, D.C. food culture, and writing tips.

HJ: Thanks for meeting with me. I really, really enjoyed the book. It was wonderful how it wasn’t just a travel book—it was a coming of age story…Now, you end your book when you’re in your 30s with your dad, but in the chapter before that, you were seventeen. So, in the space in between, what were you up to? You mentioned a couple of trips—did your travel continue into your twenties or did it kind of fall to the wayside?

NM: When I went to college and then moved to New York City I had, at first, fewer chances to travel but that was just because I was a broke kid out of college with his first job trying to make his way in the world. It kind of picked up steam, though, as I got a little bit older in my mid- to later-twenties. I went to Cuba with my father and my sister, and I got a chance to go to Finland, and I had a chance to go to Costa Rica a couple times, and I had a chance to go to Mexico a couple of times. I tried to travel somewhere new internationally at least once, about twice, a year. That was kind of my goal, and, you know, for the most part I was able to follow that philosophy…

My wife and I, when we first got engaged, we ended up in Honduras, in the Bay Islands, and we tried to travel a lot, up until we had our child a year and a half ago—you know, we’re waiting to take our first big trip with him. He’s been to California a couple times, he’s been all over the East Coast, but we’re just gearing up for the right international opportunity. But, um, no, in the in-between years, I would say my love of travel grew and, you know, I was always just looking for the best way to make that happen and the most feasible way…

Now that I’m in this new stage as a father, it was interesting writing the book because I look at the way my family traveled as a kid, and then think like, “Okay, how do I want to do this with my own child and wife, and where would that take us, and would we go to some of the same places that my dad took my family? And, if so, would we do the same things?” Probably not, but how could we do them in the right way for us? So travel is something that’s been super important, and it’s something that I can’t wait to introduce my son to, because travel was always something amazing for me, and I think he’ll really appreciate it, too. I definitely think it’s important for forming a world view.

HJ: So once your son does grow up a little bit and he is able to travel more, do you think that you’ll kind of go the route of your father and try to go to these really exotic, authentic, crazy places—for those who haven’t read the book, Nevin’s been to Fiji, Venezuela…all over. Do you think you’ll go that route or are you going to play more by the book?

NM: I think it’s going to be somewhere in the middle. I’m certainly not going to be a pre-packaged, Club Med kind of guy, ever. You know, that doesn’t really have any appeal for me…But by the same token, do I necessarily want to take my son fishing for piranhas and things like that? Maybe not. I would love to show him some of the far corners of the world, and I would love to introduce him to some really lesser-known elements of the world, but I want to do it in a way that—no offense to my dad—is a slightly saner way to doing it.

For example, top of the bucket list are like Morocco—I would love to do that. But really top of the bucket list is my wife’s home country Ghana, which I haven’t visited either. So, I would love to take him there, introduce him to his relatives…spend some time in West Africa. But then I would like to do some crazy things, like…since I was a little kid I always wanted to go to Stonehenge, for example. I think that would be something fun. I’ve always wanted to go to Easter Island, which I know is not the most practical of destinations because it’s literally the most remote point on Earth, but I think, again, it’s something he would really enjoy. I think it’s going to be somewhere in the middle, probably closer to my dad than I’m probably thinking, but as I say in the book, more airbags, more seat belts, more helmets.

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HJ: When it comes to actually going out there, finding the right spot to vacation, finding that nice balance between authentic but visitor-friendly, do you have any advice?
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8 Products that Will Turn Your Bathroom into a Luxury Hotel Spa

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Staying at a luxury hotel and spending a day at their world-class spa sounds like the ultimate vacation. Sadly, not many of us will get to experience this more than a few times, if at all. Not to fear! With just a few products, it’s easy to transform your own bathroom into a mini spa, perfect for that one day when you just need to relax and forget the outside world.

The lovely ladies at Bellacara in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia helped us find just what we needed. Bellacara’s walls are lined with high-end products, from Kiehl’s to Clarins to Kevyn Aucoin, so we figured they’d know a thing or two about having a luxurious at-home spa day. Definitely check it out if you’re ever in the area.

Now on to the products!

M. Steves RHSO Power-Packed Reviving Exfoliator and Ultra-Nourishing Boost
When I asked the girls at Bellacara what they would suggest for an at-home spa treatment, this was the first thing they directed me to. Using these two products together pretty much gives you the same results as a pricy luxury facial—the exfoliator is even called a “facial in a jar.”

Fresh Black Tea or Rose Face Mask
I’m going to cheat and count two products as one since both are beautiful. Both hydrate the skin, only the black tea mask claims to have instant results while the rose mask emphasizes toning. But really, it all boils down to whether or not you like the smell of roses and are willing to shell out the extra money for the black tea mask (it’s $30 more!).

MaskerAide Sheet Masks
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly but equally effective option, the Bellacara staff were quick to sing these sheet masks’ praises. They’re only $5.99 a piece and come in a variety of options like “Weather Warrior” and “All Nighter.”

Fresh Sugar Lemon SugarBath Cubes
They’re sugar cubes. For your bath. These cubes aren’t just adorably whimsical, though. The brown sugar inside helps to hydrate the skin while a bicarbonate of soda creates gently exfoliating bubbles.
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A Backyard Bistro: Celebrating Summer with a Homemade Rooftop Meal

Reading Elaine Sciolino’s piece on Paris bistros made me long to hop a flight across the Atlantic. Sciolino’s description of her favorite gems got me lost in the reverie, longing for fresh scenery and yearning for new experiences. Little did I know that our usual “Saturday date night” would surpass my earlier daydreams.

The setting: The official start to summer was spent on our friends’ beautiful rooftop of a historical Old Town townhouse. It was so relaxing that both my husband and I felt we were miles away from our daily lives.

The food: Blown away. If I only knew the chef was this good, I would have tried to score an invitation much, much sooner. We had traditional Cassis cocktail and smoked fish canapés to start. First course was a salmon carpaccio with unpasteurized salmon roe and a watercress soup. Our host revealed that he had befriended the owner of a local Russian gourmet shop, who shared her behind the counter goods with him.

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Main course: snapper with roasted tomatoes and baby potatoes—so simple but the ingredients were flavorful and fresh.

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