Inspired by one of my favorite places in LA, Chateau Marmont, I wrote a big story about LA’s legendary hotels. LA has a unique relationship with its hotels – while in most other cities, hotels are left to tourists, Angelenos embrace their hotels as temporary homes, second homes, offices, locations for business meetings and even dates. I blame this on two phenomena: first, most of the people in the Industry are freelancers so hotels take over a role of an office. Second, there’s the aspect of privacy – fans or paparazzi won’t be bugged you in a hotel as much as they might in a random restaurant.
During the golden era of Hollywood, Chateau Marmont (designed after a real castle in the Loire) welcomed stars such as Greta Garbo, Carole Lombard, Bette Davis, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and later Mick Jagger and Joan Baez. This where in 1933 Jean Harlow had an affair with Clark Gable – while she was supposed to be on a honeymoon with her third husband. The legend says that F. Scott Fitzgerald suffered a heart attack in front of the notorious hotel. In the 60’s it was home to Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski and in the 70’s to Jim Morrison. According to more legends, this is where Dennis Hopper had orgies with 50 women, and Led Zeppelin drove into the lobby on motorcycles. John Beluschi died here in 1984 and in 2004 Helmut Newton died in a car crash while leaving the hotel. In 2007 Britney Spears was kicked out for strange behavior and in 2012 Lindsey Lohan for a $46,000 bill. There are many more stories, so if you’re curious to find out more, I can recommend reading „Life at the Marmont“. In May this year a new book on Chateau is coming out called „Castle on Sunset“. And do watch Sofia Coppola’s „Somewhere“, most of which was filmed at the Chateau.
The very first Oscars were held in 1929 at the Roosevelt Hotel. The ceremony lasted 15 minutes and tickets were available to the public for $5. This is where young Marilyn Monroe lived at the beginning of her career – she posed for her first magazine cover on its pool. Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo also stayed here. And it’s famous for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard starting their affair there (yes, Clark and his affairs!).
Then there’s the famous Beverly Hills Hotel with its Polo Lounge, one of Rat Pack’s (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis JR and Dean Martin) favorite bars. The list of famous guests includes Beatles, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Hunter S. Thompson, Charlie Chaplin and Henry Fonda. Marilyn Monroe has lived here as well, and this is where she filmed “Lets Make Love”. Not so long ago, producers and studio bosses would rent cabanas at the pool over the weekend and do deals there. Older guests say that before mobile phones, the pool boy would come out with a phone in his hand and call out most powerful names in Hollywood. It must have been quite a scene!
Sunset Tower is a wonderful piece of Art Deco architecture. It was an apartment building all the way till the ‘80s: John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Howard Hughes, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and even the famous gangster Bugsy Siegel used to live here. In spite of its young hotel history, Sunset Tower is a legend and this is where you will often see stars and deal makers lunching together.
Then there’s the Beverly Wilshire which every one knows from Pretty Woman, Beverly Hilton where Golden Globes are hosted and the secluded Hotel Bel Air - all of them full of pre-Instagram stories.