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Hotel BelAir or Riviera C.C. for reception


My fiancée and I are very serious about good food. We've lived in LA for over 8 years and have many out of town guests coming to our wedding reception. Our family and friends will be expecting a great dining experience. I'm curious if the Hounds have any opinion on Hotel BelAir v. Riviera C.C. for food, service and overall experience. After visiting both I've concluded Hotel BelAir = better food/ better service and smaller, less elegant ballroom, while Riviera = better ballroom, not as good service/ food. What do the Hounds think? Thanks!

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  1. The Bel Air location / grounds / service is hard to beat for a reception. The food is another matter. While it may be better than Riviera, it's really not that great. That said, reception food is tough and the Hotel Bel Air is experienced so may be the best bet.

    1. Wow, either of these venues can be spectacular, depending upon exactly which rooms you and your guests will use. Note that the Hotel Bel-Air is renowned primarily for its gardens and patios, which raises the slim possibility of weather being an issue. I'm prejudiced here, because as a hacker (at golf, not computers) I would relish the opportunity to visit Riviera to check out the memorabilia and savor that spectacular view from the main ballroom overlooking the course. Either one will be quite expert at handling big events -- while the Bel-Air runs an elegant hotel and restaurant the Riviera has to satisfy its very upscale membership. Good luck!

      1. Mrs. J.L. & I had our magnificent wedding reception at the Bel Air. Not a single regret. Loved it.

        The catered food at Bel Air is different than their "regular" restaurant food - it's way better!

        1 Reply
        1. re: J.L.

          Have attended receptions in both venues. Bel Air is serene, romantic, elegant and memorable. The staff are superb,. Riviera is nice but rather sterile and unforgettable. Feels more like a banquet hall. If you want a private club, consider the Bel Air Bay Club. I preferred it to The Riviera, and it has a great ocean view (although similar food as Riviera's).

        2. Hands down, the Hotel Bel Air. While the ballroom is a bit small and cut up, have you thought about putting up a tent? That would be elegant.

          1. I think the ultimate answer depends on some additional information - will you have a dance floor and, if so, is there enough room for it, the band, and your guests? How many guests? What day and time is the wedding? Where will your out of town guests stay? Will the ceremony be in a different room? If you're willing to pay more, can the Riv improve the food/service that you have experienced? I haven't been to either in a while, but just based on what you're saying, I'd go with better food/service if possible, but it's really hard to decide this without more info. Congratulations!! Let us know what you decide!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bite Me

              Thanks Bite Me (and everyone else)!

              Here are the details:
              # of guests - around 120
              Day and time - Saturday in October @ 5pm (next year) - ceremony at nearby church
              Guests will be staying at the reception venue, the Luxe, and Beverly Hills Hotel
              Looking at the crystal ballroom at the Riv and the main ballroom at Hotel Bel-Air

              I appreciate the input and good suggestions!

              1. re: Rockgrappler

                Hotel Bel Air's main room will be "bursting at the seams" with a head count of 120. In fact, as I recall, their policy with our event was occupancy of 120 - MAX.

                If you can seriously hold your head count to 120, I'd still HIGHLY recommend the Bel Air. They might even throw in a day-room for the family of the bride and/or groom (but don't bank on it - it depends on hotel occupancy).

                It's been 4+ year since our event, but I still clearly remember the outstanding service from everyone. Yes, everyone, from the Head Catering Manager, all the way to every busboy. We were so busy greeting guests during our reception that we didn't have time to eat our yummy wedding dinner --- No worries, the staff at Hotel Bel Air thought ahead and brought it (REHEATED!) to our room later that night so we could unwind with our families - and it was definitely tastier than their usual restaurant fare. Honestly, our guests from that day still smile when they talk about our event (gush, awshucks...).

                Bottom line: Hotel Bel Air - book it now. (And no, I have absolutely NO financial interest in the place - I'm just a very satisfied client).

            2. I was married at the Bel-Air and had a very lovely day. They are very good at what they do and you will not have to worry about anything.

              As far as the Riviera, I don't know who your wedding guests are, but it can be tricky inviting people to a place that was racially restricted for so much of its history. I know some people would never go there (or the California Club, etc) for that reason.

              1. Some semi-insider insight from a musician:) The Hotel Bel Air has the beautiful garden setting, but that's about it —I wouldn't recommend it for the food or anything else. The Riviera is fine. I second Maudie's recommendation of the Bel Air Bay club: good food, great view, nice people. Also, if money is no object (doesn't seem to be from your choices), the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey is an excellent choice.

                There's a certain paradox in creating memorable food for a large group of people; it's harder than it looks. Hotels are used to doing it, but it often entails rows of mystery-meat plates in a hallway with sauce congealing on them, while somebody adds a garnish to each one. Factor in various dietary restrictions of a large party, and it's going to be hard to get past the rubber-chicken/overcooked fish options. There may be a few restaurants that can pull off a banquet for 120. Hounds?

                Also, EliAnnKat's comment about the California Club, Riviera, etc. is entirely correct. Jonathan CLub as well.

                1. I've never been to the Hotel BelAir but have been to the Riviera a couple of times for wedding receptions. The grounds are nice - 1920s-1930s California feel, beautiful views if fairways are your thing, and the food is pretty average. If your families are loaded with duffers, they'll get a kick out of it. Otherwise, if food is your top priority, your other option may be better.