Following Marilyn Monroe

Two days, four schools. This is day three and it is time to takea break. No college visits today. Instead, we head from the beach to the canyons to indulge at the …. Hotel Bel Air.

Whoa. I know. Not in the same league as the Country Inn. But, when you’re in the travel business … sometimes you land in legendary resorts.

We drive up a narrow, windy, leafy road in the darkness and pull into the entrance, to be met by two gracious, patient staffers. We check in, not in the lobby but in our room! Which is amazing–it has its own yard, a glassed in sunroom (or tonight, a moon room, I can see the moon shining through the leaves).

This wows my daughter, who’s been doing hotel tours for her entire life.

“Why didn’t we come sooner?” she asks.

Then, we explore the hotel, which is set into the side of the canyon, like an Anasazi ruin. Except it’s pink—pink walls, explosions of pink bougainvillea. We climb the stairs from one level to another, getting glimpses of little hidden nooks, flames in a fireplace on some of the balconies and the lights of mansions twinkling on the opposite side of the canyon.

Then, we repair to the bar. I have my first martini–a peach martini. It is great! My daughter has a fizzy berry drink.

Next day: gym workouts.

And then?

My daughter gets locked in the bathroom. I have to crawl in through the window and land in the bathtub to help her with the latch.

We never totally shut the bathroom door again. But who would want to in a bathroom with a TV to watch while you’re luxuriating in the bathtub, a rain shower and really amazing toiletries.

Cool as the bathroom might be, we have to see the hotel in daylight. In quintessential southern California style, its layout blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor.

Get this: the dining room floor is heated in the winter; that’s how most of theof the dining room can be outdoors. And even though the heat was blasting us in the afternoon, the evening breeze means we put on sweaters.

And in the lobby, I am completely absorbed by an outsized book about Marilyn.

She lived there multiple times and I can see why.

Below: Hercules, one of the three swans in residence at the Bel Air.

Hercules, the resident swan at the Hotel Bel-Air

And, guess what? When the hotel’s marketing director finds out we’re doing a college tour, she tells us about her alma mater. And we visit it!

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