Photographer Grant Legan is no stranger to camping. “I grew up in the Midwest,” he says. “It was just a part of life.” Now, as someone who splits his time between downtown Los Angeles and New York City, exploring the great wide open isn’t as feasible. But living in a bustling metropolis doesn’t mean you have to strike camp for good.
In the heart of Los Angeles, atop Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, Grant took advantage of a one-of-a-kind glamping opportunity, an experience that can be enjoyed any time of year.
After passing through a hidden entrance and ascending the wrought-iron and marble stairway, he reached the exclusive Veranda Suite, a private indoor-outdoor space that occupies an entire floor high above Rodeo Drive. The suite’s outdoor terrace – furnished with a heated 10-foot-tall (3-metre) tent equipped with a Four Seasons queen-size bed, a crystal chandelier, marble lamps, fur rugs and antique nightstands – proved to be the perfect backdrop for capturing a romantic evening between friends.
Around 5:00 pm, the city’s famous golden hour unfolded. “I was immediately struck by the light,” Grant says. “Seeing the skyline and the light change as the sun began to set was a really beautiful way to see LA. Watching the landscape shift was incredible.”
In addition to the setting sun, fire pits and bistro lights illuminated the 2,140-square-foot (199-square-metre) terrace. If the weather gets chilly, the staff can turn on heat lamps. “Sipping Champagne and catching up with my friends was quite nice during this time,” he says. “The tent was very cosy and intimate. Overall, it really played well with the light, the Hollywood Hills and the buildings in the distance.”
Indoors, Grant found classic European décor with rich colour tones in an expansive living space, a king bed and crown moulding throughout. He then gravitated toward the balcony. “Looking out across the way made us feel like we were in Paris instead of Los Angeles,” he says. “That viewpoint really allowed us to lose ourselves in the moment and just be there. Even though we were indoors, the light still made everything feel warm.”
At 6:00 pm, dinner was served at a table on the terrace: a custom eight-course tasting menu prepared by Executive Chef Samir Roonwal and Executive Pastry Chef Chris Ford. “We created a menu that is predominantly cooked on charcoal or in a wood-fire oven to maintain a campfire ambience,” Roonwal says. “With smoke and flames licking nearly every dish, the taste profile stays more authentic.”
Grant and his friends sipped frozé and feasted on Osetra caviar; smoked tuna with burnt avocado crema and radishes; a soup of wild mushroom chanterelles fumé; squash ravioli and duck broth with foie gras; fire charred beets, beet chips and beet powder with pine croutons; lime granita; and charred Wagyu with mustard pickle and petit vegetables.
The showstopper, however, was dessert. Chef Ford prepared a camping essential, s’mores – but with a luxurious twist. After roasting Valrhona chocolate in the oven to create a smoky ganache, he enrobed it with a Tahitian vanilla bean marshmallow and set both atop a shortbread cookie. He then placed a leaf of 24-karat gold on one side of each marshmallow, leaving the opposite side bare to be torched, producing the quintessential fire-roasted taste.
“Everyone knows a normal part of camping is making s’mores,” Grant says. “You just don’t anticipate that happening in the middle of a city. It gave us all the rustic feeling you want from camping.”
After dinner was unhurriedly finished, Grant says everything was promptly cleared away so they could enjoy the entire Veranda Suite to themselves. “The timeline of everything – the lighting, pictures, food and wine pairings – was spectacular,” he says. For a final embellishment that lent itself to the mood, Grant pulled out a speaker on the outdoor terrace and put on Frank Sinatra.
Explore this and other Extraordinary Experiences by Four Seasons here.
All photography by Grant Legan
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