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Ultimate Elizabeth Taylor Travel Guide - Americas

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

If you’re looking to inject some old Hollywood romance and glamour into your travels around the Americas, ask yourself; ‘where would Elizabeth Taylor go?’


In this second instalment of the Elizabeth Taylor Travel guide, we'll follow in Elizabeth's footsteps by discovering her favourite hotels, restaurants, destinations and activities in the USA, Canada, Mexico and Jamaica.


If you're heading to Europe, check out the Ultimate Elizabeth Taylor Travel Guide - Europe

"I’ve always admitted that I’m ruled by my passions."

- Elizabeth Taylor

 

USA

Elizabeth Taylor’s parents were American but she was born in the UK and lived there for the first few years of her life, before moving back to Los Angeles in 1939 at the age of 7.


Father Francis ran an art gallery at the Beverly Hills Hotel, while mum Sara, a former actress, championed her daughter all over town as the next big movie starlet. Taylor practically grew up on the MGM set, going to school on the ‘Lot’ with fellow child actors Roddy McDowall and Margaret O’ Brien. She had homes in California and Virginia


Hotels

Beverly Hills Hotel – Los Angeles

A must for old Hollywood enthusiasts, everyone who’s anyone in the entertainment industry has a story to tell about the legendary ‘pink palace.’ Taylor spent six of her eight honeymoons here including one with Burton in Bungalow 5, which was said to be her favourite. Legend has it that their standing room-service order included two bottles of vodka with breakfast and another two with lunch. Tasteful images of Taylor adorn the bungalow’s walls and there’s a private pool too.


She also stayed in Bungalow 3 with Burton while they filmed their hilarious guest appearance on the I Love Lucy show.


Elizabeth's affinity with the hotel continued after her death when her family held a small memorial service for her here in 2011.


Eden Roc Miami

The Eden Roc and the Fountainbleu were the two top hotels in Miami during the 50s and 60s; Eden Roc was beloved by Taylor as well as Frank Sinatra, Humphry Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It’s still a showstopper of a hotel but it’s had so many refurbishments since the old Hollywood glory days that you’re unlikely to have a similar experience to Liz or Lauren, but wherever they are, we’re sure they would approve of your choice of accommodation.

Hotel Paisano – Texas

Taylor stayed at this retro 3-star hotel in Marfa, Texas for 6 weeks while filming Giant, alongside handsome co-stars Rock Hudson and James Dean. The cast and crew ate in the Hotel Paisano most nights, and watched the dailies with director George Stevens in the ballroom.


The hotel has embraced its role in Hollywood history by offering an Elizabeth Taylor Suite, which includes a balcony overlooking the pretty courtyard below and the opportunity to explore the hotel’s Memorabilia Room, a mini museum dedicated to the filming of Giant.


St Regis Hotel – New York City

Taylor stayed here with her uncle just before leaving for the UK to film Ivanhoe in 1952. One of the world’s most legendary hotels and home to the first Bloody Mary cocktail, it was opened by the Astor family in 1904 and has welcomed such illustrious names as Dietrich, Monroe, Hemingway and Dali (no first names required).

Plaza Hotel – New York City

Taylor famously stayed at the Plaza in the aftermath of her divorce from hotel magnate Nicky Hilton.


Plaza Athenee – New York City

In her later years, Taylor chose the Plaza Athenee Hotel as her residence of choice when in NYC. She loved the suites with terraces on the top floor, where she enjoyed breakfast with stunning views of the Big Apple.


Fairmont Copley Plaza – Boston

Formerly known as the Sheraton Plaza, Liz stayed at the Fairmont Copley Plaza with Richard Burton during his extremely successful theatre run in Hamlet. It was in the lobby of this hotel that the New York Times reported that Liz & Dick were mobbed by fans, describing them as “tearing at their hair and clothing for souvenirs.” They had married for the first time one week before on the 15th March 1964 in Montreal. Liz & Dick fever had gripped the nation.

 

Restaurants

Elizabeth loved food, and while she loved fine dining and all the caviar that came with that, her favourite dishes were simple and without fuss; the chilli from Chasens (no longer open unfortunately) and a bucket of southern fried chicken. Elizabeth Taylor's favourite restaurants in the USA include:


Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge – Los Angeles

Elizabeth was a frequent guest at The Polo Lounge throughout her life. As a tribute, they have immortalized our violet-eyed gal with a signature cocktail in her honour. The 'Violet Eyes' cocktail is made up of Butterfly Pea Flower Tea-Infused Tito’s Vodka, Giffard Elderflower Liqueur, Lime and White Cranberry and is inspired by who else?


Canters Deli – Los Angeles

This legendary 24-hour Jewish deli has been in business since 1931 and according to their website, Liz was a big fan. Which is no surprise, given that Canters was one of the few places in the city that was open all night, offering a plethora of kosher delights to LA's night owls.


Musso & Frank Grill Los Angeles

Musso & Frank is the best restaurant in LA for old Hollywood wow factor. The interior has barely changed (the ceiling is still stained with Bogart’s cigarette smoke) and their list of customers is like a who’s who of Hollywood from 1919 to the present day. This was known as the place where film deals were done. Taylor visited often, alongside other luminaries like Charlie Chaplin, Dorothy Parker, Alfred Hitchcock and Raymond Chandler.


La Cabanita Los Angeles

Taylor developed a life-long love of Mexican food on the set of Night of the Iguana (see below). Apparently, her driver switched her on to this particular hidden gem and she visited La Cabanita regularly for the last 15 years of her life, no doubt enjoying their delicious tacos.


Tavern on the Green – New York City

A reception was held at Tavern on the Green, the beautiful restaurant located within Central Park, to honour Taylor in 1986, followed by a ceremony at nearby Avery Fisher Hall, where she was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Lincoln Center Film Society. Her daughter Maria also chose it as the place to introduce her mum to her new son-in-law over lunch.


Sardis – New York City

Liz loved this legendary restaurant, famous for its celebrity caricatures on the walls. She hosted many dinners in Richard Burton’s honour at Sardis during his highly successful run in Hamlet on Broadway.

 

Sites/Landmarks

Elizabeth Taylor Hollywood Walk of Fame Star & hand prints at Graumans – Los Angeles

No visit to LA is complete for classic movie fans without paying tribute to your favourite Hollywood legends on the Walk of Fame and then at Grauman's Theatre, both located on Hollywood Boulevard.


‘You’re the Star’ Hollywood mural – Los Angeles

Located on Hollywood Blvd & Wilcox Ave, this mural is a homage to the stars of yesteryear, featuring Liz alongside Richard Burton in their Cleopatra costumes. A fun place to visit to capture a selfie with Liz.


Church of the Good Shepherd – Taylor married Nicky Hilton at this catholic church located at 505 North Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills, aged 18 while filming Father of the Bride in 1950.


Forest Lawn Memorial Park

Liz was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park after her death at the age of 79 in 2011, with a love letter from Richard Burton in her hand. Forest Lawn is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world and is the final resting place for countless Hollywood legends including Humphry Bogart, Jean Harlow, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn. Events (including spooky outdoor cinema nights) are held regularly to honour their famous guests and tours run between mid-June and October each year.

 
Taylor & Burton in Toronto for Burton's star turn in Hamlet. Image courtesy of Toronto Star Newspaper

Canada

Canada played a pivotal role in the early days of Elizabeth and Richard’s romance. In 1964, while Le Scandale was still at its height, they travelled together to Toronto and Montreal where Burton was playing to stellar reviews in a production of Hamlet.


King Edward Hotel – Toronto

Liz & Dick arrived in January of 1964 and took over a five-room suite on the eighth floor of the King Edward Hotel. The King Edward was built in 1903 and was the first luxury hotel to be built in the city, it remains to this day one of the chicest spots in town for date night.


Ritz Carlton Hotel – Montreal

Elizabeth Taylor married Burton for the first time in the bridal suite of the Ritz Carlton. Another gorgeous historic hotel that boasts top class, 21st century amenities such as an indoor saltwater pool with magnificent views of the Montreal skyline, full service spa and gourmet French restaurant.

 

Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, now a stunning resort town on Mexico’s dream-like Pacific coast, was once a quaint little fishing village. It was here, during the filming of Night of the Iguana, alongside Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr, that Elizabeth and Richard would finally find some peace away from the paparazzi. They loved it so much, they bought a home here.


The good news is , you can still enjoy a slice of Liz & Dick’s Puerto Vallarta by staying at their former home, which has been transformed into a luxury hotel.


Casa Kimberly HotelPuerto Vallarta

Taylor and Burton discovered Casa Kimberly during the filming of Night of the Iguana. It boasted 10 bedrooms, 11 baths, 3 kitchens and a huge pool. The Burtons bought it and built a house across the road, connected by a pink bridge that was an exact replica of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. Nowadays you can stay in Taylor’s bedroom, complete with the original pink bathtub that was commissioned for her. Interestingly, it’s in the shape of a real heart as opposed to the love heart that Taylor requested, the funny result of a communication issue. The Iguana restaurant, which specialises in 5 star Mexican cuisine was recently voted one of the world’s best restaurants. They also serve chocolatinis in the bar, Elizabeth’s favourite drink.


Play del Amor Beach – Puerto Vallarta

A secret beach that’s only accessible by swimming through a tunnel at low tide.


La Palapa Restaurant - Puerto Vallarta

A popular local beach front restaurant since the late 1950s, Elizabeth would often eat here for breakfast while her husband was on set filming Night of the Iguana.


Hacienda San AngelPuerto Vallarta

Not quite a haunt of Elizabeth Taylor, quite the opposite in fact but it’s well worth a mention for Liz and Dick fans. Burton purchased Hacienda San Angel in the late 70s for his 3rd wife Susan. It’s perched on a hilltop above Puerto Vallarta and is now a hotel that offers spectacular views, a gourmet restaurant and exquisite furnishings.


Acapulco

Worth a mention as it was once the playground of the rich and famous and is cited often in countless Hollywood biographies. The Mayor of Acapulco married Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd here, with Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds as best man and bridesmaid respectively. They then stayed on to enjoy their honeymoon here. I can’t find any reference to where they stayed. Drop me a line if you can fill in the blanks.

 

Jamaica

A popular haunt of the rich and famous in the 40's, 50's and 60's, Elizabeth reportedly holidayed here with Noel Coward, who had a house near Oracabessa.


Moxons Hotel – Between Ocho Rios & Oracabassa

A rare budget option for Liz Taylor fans at this cosy, boutique hotel. Built by Englishman Timothy Moxon who entertained close friends such as Noel Coward and Ian Fleming here. His brother Oliver took over in the late 60's. He was married to the talented chef Baroness Bonita, and together they turned Moxons into a gourmet Mecca up until the early 90's. Illustrious names such as Dean Martin, Mick Jagger and Bob Marley have all enjoyed the unique hospitality of Moxons, alongside Elizabeth.


Sources used for this post:

How to be a Movie Star - William J Mann Furious Love: The Marriage of the Century - Sam Kashner & Nancy Schoenberger And God Created Burton - Tom Rubython Elizabeth - J Randy Taraborrelli


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