There’s an almost eerie calm when one arrives at the AKA Beverly Hills during a weekday in April. The sprawling, granite-paved driveway, manned by a valet, appears deserted. The coolly lit lobby is empty, save for the two attentive, sharply dressed greeters behind the concierge desk. Touring the living spaces, practically the only noise one hears is from the “sleep CD” — something that might accompany a massage at a high-end spa — that’s piped into many of the rooms.
“There are a lot of people who are working during the day — filming, recording, traveling,” explains Larry Korman, president of AKA. “So during the day, it’s very quiet. At night, when they want to use the fitness center, there are only one or two people in there.”
Neither posh hotel nor luxury condo, the AKA is designed as something in between: combining the hospitality of the former with the high-end appointments of the latter. The property, converted from the drab, ’70s-style Crescent Apartments into a sleek new Philippe Starck-like design within Beverly Hills’ “Golden Triangle,” is the latest in a line of temporary residences that numbers locations in New York, Washington D.C. and London.
The AKA — whose clients have included Diane Keaton, Colin Farrell, Andy Garcia and Richard Dreyfuss — is designed for stays of a month or longer, and is meant to act as a kind of home away from home, especially if you work in an industry like Hollywood, where one’s presence is required on a soundstage or location shoot for weeks, even months at a time.
“It could be Liza Minnelli doing a renovation,” says Korman. “Or it could be Leonardo DiCaprio doing a movie, and they just feel very much at home, very private and anybody staying with us at the time, we don’t mention.
The Beverly Hills site, just opened in March but still applying the finishing touches, is not for the gadfly hoping to scope the bar for star sightings. In fact, there is no bar, per se. Instead, there’s a highly civilized coffee nook where one can be served an espresso in the morning before it converts into a spartan martini lounge in the late afternoon.
“There aren’t those crowds or hordes of people (as in) a thousand-unit hotel or 300-unit apartment community,” says Korman. Suites range from 1,000-square-foot one-bedrooms to 1,800-square foot, two-bedroom penthouses. There are also two-story townhouses on the property — all furnished, with fully equipped kitchens and flatscreen TVs, premium cable, fireplaces and balconies.
The highly uniform aesthetic is the opposite of fussy: white walls with the occasional charcoal detail; mostly neutral hues ranging from taupe to chocolate brown; sleek, durable furnishings designed by Ed Asfour of Asfour Guzy and AKA’s design team of Nicholas Cardone and David Fields; lots of spacious walk-in closets. If it wasn’t all so Zen it would seem monotonous.
It’s as if the feng shui were calculated for minimal distraction for those used to taking their work home with them. Need a screening room? It’s adjacent to the lobby and accommodates 20 people. Need to conduct a meeting? There’s a conference space designed for maximum privacy. Need to order out? Spago, with a private back entrance steps from the AKA, is essentially the house restaurant, providing special menus to residents who can have the food delivered via a hot line or be assured a table via a preferred reservation system.
For those ordering in, even the packaging is custom-designed. “It’s triangular and has a little AKA and Spago logo,” says Korman. “It’s like Chinese delivery on steroids.”