5 Historic Hotels in Los Angeles
Our Los Angeles tours almost always include a drive-by or a stop at one of the historical hotels here in LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica. Being Tinseltown, of course these hotels are famous because of their ties to the film industry or the legends that have performed in it. They served as locations for the Oscars, hideaways for superstars hiding from prying eyes, or they are still a place where Hollywood deals are born.
Let’s have a look at some of our favorites:
Beverly Hills Hotel
9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills
The “Pink Palace” celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1912 and has been home to a number of celebrities in its century of existence. It is featured on the cover of the Eagles’ album Hotel California and indeed was the inspiration for the song of the same name. Howard Hughes lived here for a number of years and it is said that he had the staff hide roast beef sandwiches in the trees so he could hunt for them at night. The Beatles were granted special after-hours access to swim in the pool, and the famous Polo Lounge is still the place that top agents cut big Hollywood deals.
The hotel includes 23 separate bungalows that are uber private and favored by stars for decades. The guest list has included JFK, Marliyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson . . . it goes on and on. John Stamos and Shaquille O’Neal were even married here (2 different weddings, of course!).
Unfortunately the hotel is now the subject of protests and a boycott by several groups due to the current owner, the Sultan of Brunei, imposing Sharia law on his sultanate, including the death penalty for homosexuality.
The Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
The Roosevelt opened in 1927 by owners Douglas Fairbanks, Louis B Mayer, and Sid Grauman to cater to actors, producers, and directors from the east coast working on films in the burgeoning world of Hollywood. It hosted the very first Academy Awards in 1929 in its Blossom Room, which was said to take only five minutes.
As you might expect, given its business purpose, the list of stars that have stayed here is long. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard famously stayed in the penthouse suite for just $5 a night; the same suite will cost upwards of $6,000 today. Charlie Chaplain was said to have a different woman on every floor. Marilyn Monroe lived here on and off for a couple of years early in her career; today you can stay in the Marilyn Suite for $1,800 per night.
The hotel is also haunted! A mirror that was once in Marilyn’s suite later displayed an image of her to frightened guests, and those on the 9th floor report hearing Montgomery Clift mumbling his lines over his footsteps in the hallway.
The hotel is also the home of the former Cinegrill, a prime nightspot for stars of the 40s and 50s. Michelle Pfeiffer sang atop of a piano in The Fabulous Baker Boys in this space. It is now Teddy’s, a still popular nightclub that Lindsay Lohan visited on her first night off from house arrest in 2011.
506 S Grand Avenue, Los Angeles
Huddled right in the middle of downtown LA lies the historic Millennium Biltmore, home of many Oscar ceremonies in the 30s and 40s. It’s fun just to wander the ornate lobby and look at all the detail in the walls and ceilings. Then head over to the gallery in a hallway off the main hall to see incredible photos of celebrities at the hotel. A huge photo from an Oscars ceremony from the 1930s shows Walt Disney, Henry Fonda, Cecille DeMille and others at their tables during the ceremony. Find the photo of a young Ronald Reagan on the right side of the hall.
The current check-in lobby was formerly the Music Room where JFK’s campaign worked during the 1960 Democratic National Convention. He gave his acceptance speech at the hotel as well. When the Beatles stayed here in 1964, huge crowds of fans forced them to enter the hotel by helicopter.
The Biltmore served as a filming location for a number of movies, including Chinatown, Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, Oceans 11, True Lies, and the TV show Mad Men. More recently it has hosted the semifinals for American Idol.
The Beverly Wilshire
9500 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills
Most of you will recognize this icon from Pretty Woman as the hotel where Vivian falls in love with her Prince Charming in the penthouse. But this place has seen a lot more than just Pretty Woman.
Before Edward claimed the penthouse, Warren Beatty called it home for several years. Before that, none other than the King himself, Elvis Presley, lived at the hotel while making his films in the 50s. Other big-time guests of the Beverly Wilshire have included members of the English Royal Family, Emperor Hirihoto of Japan, John Lennon, Cary Grant, Elton John, Mick Jagger, and the Dalai Lama.
The Chateau Marmont
8221 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood
Clinging to the hill above the Sunset Strip, the Chateau Marmont has been and remains a favorite for celebrities to hide away in an exclusive and private oasis. There is the main hotel that you see from the street, but in the back are private bungalows perfect for someone famous to find some peace and serenity away from paparazzi and curious fans.
It’s also the type of place where you can get yourself into trouble — John Belushi tragically died of a drug overdose in Bungalow #3 in 1982. Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams visited him there just a couple of hours before his death.
The hotel has also hosted the usual suspects — John Lennon, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Mick Jagger. In addition, Ringo Starr, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, William Holden and Jefferson Airplane have made stops here.
Jim Morrison injured his back while staying here trying to swing from the roof to his room window, as seen in the film The Doors.
More recent guests have included Lindsay Lohan on a couple of extended stays, Robert DeNiro, and Leonardo DiCaprio.