In Style + Design

Inside Fine Art-Fuelled Boutique Hotel Petit Ermitage

Unless you knew what you were looking for, you wouldn’t notice Petit Ermitage. The boutique hotel is just off Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, down a sloping side street, and in a vine-covered building with Parisian-style balconies. Its entrance is tucked away from the street.

At night, a small circus sign with its name lights up outside. Apart from that however, you’d never know it was there.

Fashioned as a private pied-a-terre with an elegant yet bohemian traveller in mind, it’s more of a retreat than a hotel. Staff here know everyone by name. The rooftop is guest-only. Yoga and movie nights are held often.

On Friday evenings, a non-religious Shabbat is held in the Master Lounge. There, the week’s sins are waved away and the next week’s are jump-started with a shot of absinthe.

Also during the week, guests crowd the small room and from worn-in lounges watch entertainer Toledo perform a completely improvised, no phones allowed show.

“It’s all off-the-cuff,” he says. “We make it up the minute we walk into the room. The room paints itself as we go.”

He’s joined by a singer, stand-up bass player, violinist, pianist, and contortionist. Sunday nights are the Byrd Series with more performances.

Petit Ermitage truly is an immersive experience. Owned by two brothers Adrian and Stefan Ashkenazy, the 79-suite establishment was designed to be a feast for all five senses.

“I believe the whole vibe and feeling stems from the brothers,” says Toledo. “They are both artistic visionaries on opposite sides of the brain, which makes for an oddly cool balance of art and execution.”

Toledo came to play at Petit after Stefan watched his shows at a speakeasy in LA.

“He said to me one day, I am going to build a hotel to have you play for me. And one day he said, ‘I built the hotel’ and I have been here since.”

The story is only the beginning of the brothers’ hands-on roles in creating Petit.

Artwork hanging on its walls including pieces by Joan Miro, Salvador Dali and Robert Rauschenberg are from their family’s personal collection. All décor was collected from or inspired by their travels.

The carpet throughout was hand-woven in Turkey. The tiles on the front drive were sourced in Rome; antique tiles on the rooftop from Holland. An antique gramophone sitting in the lobby is fully-functioning and plays the signature Petit Ermitage playlist.

And then there are the rooms. Each with a balcony overlooking Hollywood’s hills, they’re exotic, cosy hideaways within the hideaway. Custom railings were made in India. Pillow shams were hand crafted in Uzbekistan.

Le Labo products line the bathrooms. Candles with coconut, grapefruit and Darjeeling tea can be bought in the lobby and then used in the rooms to scent them.

Really though, once you take a peek at the rooftop, you’ll realise you won’t be spending much time anywhere else. The first spaces you see are the Master Lounge and the Butterfly Bar. The latter serves love potions like Right Place, Wrong Time and American Trilogy alongside fine wines and flavourful beers.

Outside however truly is one-of-a-kind. It’s home to butterflies and hummingbirds and is recognised by the US’s National Wildlife Federation as a sanctuary for them.

Head outside to your right and you’ll hit the outdoor pool, heated and filled with salt water. Next to it are orange-and-white striped beds with faux fur blankets to wrap yourself with if the fire pit isn’t keeping you warm enough.

On the other side of the outdoor area is The Garden with private cabanas to either dine in or to talk business. In fact, The Cabana at the far end is big enough for meetings to be held in, as is often the case.

And the guests themselves? “The guests who come, come from all over the world and right around the corner in West Hollywood,” says Toledo.

“Everyone there for the most part has this openness and willingness to share pieces of who they are with one another. It’s really cool.”

Published 28 May, 2018